“NOW THE ONLY PLACE I ENJOY IS SCHOOL”: RAMADAN’S STORY
Gebegebo village, home for eight-year-old boy Ramadan. Gebegebo is located in Tuliguled Woreda, Fafan zone of the Somali region. Ramadan's family moved to Gebegebo village from their home in Kontoma village three years ago due to conflict. His parents were farmers. They used to get a good income from their cash crop plantation. They also had cattle and goats. Now his parents lost everything they had due to the conflict.
“I do not like living in this village,” said Ramadan. “Our life was good in our previous home. Currently, we do not eat our meals properly. We only eat when food is available.” Ramadan has four younger siblings. Ramadan attends school at Gebegebo Primary school with his younger sisters Leila, seven years, and Anfa, five years old. Their school is twenty minutes walk from their home.
“Now the only place I enjoy is school,” said Ramadan who is in the second grade. “At school, we learn about a lot of things and play different games.”. Ramadan's favorite subject is English. At school, during their break time, Ramadan plays his favorite game. “We sit in a big circle and one of our friends will run around the circle and put a softball behind one of us sitting in the circle. Then the child who found the ball behind his back will run until the child who puts the ball is hit by the ball,” said Ramadan- explaining the game.
Ramadan was born with malformed feet. “I rarely find a comfortable shoe for my feet.” he, says. “It hurts a lot when I fall while playing with my friends.”
Ramadan likes all his teachers. “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.” he added. Through support from ECW MYRP, Ramadan has received school materials like exercise books and pens.
Misra is Ramadan’s mother. “I never went to school,” said Misra. “I do not want my children to be uneducated like me. I was encouraged to send my children to school when the teachers came to our village some time ago and told us all about the benefits of education. No matter what, I have decided to send my kids to school,” said Misra. Gebegebo’s Primary School teachers have conducted a ‘Back to School’ campaign at the villages and Misra was motivated to send her children to school.
Since Ramandan’s family moved to Gebegebo, his father works as a daily laborer. He never makes enough money to provide food for his family. “I feel sad when I send my kids to school without feeding them breakfast,” said Misra. She says is facing the toughest challenge in her life. She has lost her farmland, cattle, and everything she owned due to the conflict. She wishes peace to her village so she can go back again to provide a better life to her family.
“I believe education will create good opportunities. When they grow up, I went them to be successful in all areas of life. I will do everything I can so they can have a good life in the future.” said Misra.
Farhan is the School Director of Gebebego Primary school. There are about 60 pre-primary and 998 primary students at the primary school. Farhan is one of the teachers who received the psychosocial training to treat the children at school. “The psychosocial training has helped us in treating the children especially those who lost their parents. The children used to make a toy gun using sticks and all they play in groups was ‘shoot and kill’ war games. Now we are teaching them different games. We are planning to prepare a playground for children at school. A non-government organization has promised to provide playground materials. I hope we will make a lot of progress and good results in treating the children from the adverse effect of the conflict,.” said Farhan.
Farhan spent most of his childhood at a refugee camp on the Ethiopia-Somalia border. His father took his family in search of a better life in Somalia. When he finished high school, his family moved to Gebebego village. He has a diploma in Ethics and now he is perusing his Bachler's Degree in Teaching. Farhan is passionate about children and teaching.
“Ramadan is a quiet and shy boy. He came back to school after we have conducted the ‘Back to school campaign’. Like other IDP families, his parents are struggling to provide for him and themselves. His mother is committed to send her children to school. When the school feeding starts in our school, Ramadan and other children will be happier to come to school and there will be an improvement in attendance,” said Farhan.
In the Somali region, Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) have settled in 390 IDP camps and host communities in Afder, Dawa, Dollo, Erer, Fafan, Jarar, Korahey, Liban, Nigob, Shabelle, and Siti zones. The crises destroyed coping mechanisms and halted the development of physical infrastructure and human resources necessary for the provision of social services, including education. With 41% of the IDP population being school-age children, there is an enormous demand for education. Many of these children have either engaged in or been affected by the conflicts and hostilities prevalent in their areas of origin and continue to exist in fragile camp environments.
The Education Cannot Wait facilitated Multi Year Resilience Program (ECW MYRP) is a three-year program aiming to improve learning through equitable access, crisis-sensitive, and quality education for emergency-affected children including children living with disabilities. The required total budget is 165 million USD with a plan to implement in Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumz, Harari, Oromia, SNNP, Somali, and Tigray regions. Currently, ECW MYRP is implemented though 27 million USD seed funding from Education Cannot Wait (ECW) initially focuses interventions on addressing the critical educational needs of 60,487 out of school-displaced children in 81 schools, 17 woredas of Amhara, Oromia, and Somali regions. Part of the seed money will support efforts to mobilize the funding gap of US$138 million needed for the whole program.
Save the Children, NRC, and OWDA are implementing ECW MYRP in Fafan, Dawa, Korahey, and Liben zones of the Somali region since the program implementation started in January 2021. The following are some of the achievements of the program in the Somali region.
- Psychosocial training was provided for teachers,
- School materials like exercise books and pens were distributed to the students,
- Girls received dignity kits in Goljano and Tuliguled Woreda,
- School feeding program has started in most targeted school,
- School feeding committees were established
- School WASH clubs were established to promote hygiene and sanitation