Commemoration of Universal children’s day 20 November 2014
Children of Somalia
Somali Women Development Center (SWDC) is pleased to commemorate Universal Children’s Day this year with personal stories from Somali Children with theme of the year “Stop violence against children”
Somali children have been facing various forms of violence including sexual abuse, exploitation, physical and humiliating punishment, harmful traditional practices including (FGM and force/early marriage) as well as recruiting them into the armed groups.
In Mogadishu, there are thousands of street children left by their parents or in a majority cases lost their parents, lack of welfare and proper child protection mechanisms have left them ended in streets, chewing khat, sniffing glues have affected their psychological wellbeing.
Following are the stories of some children of which SWDC team met them in person and now they are telling the world how is their life and what do they need.
Voice of a street child
Asad Abdi Olow , 14 years old is one of the street children who was formerly displaced from Qoryoley Dist6rict together with his parents due to the fight between the armed group Al-shabab and the Government in the area, after long struggle they happened to arrive Mogadishu, they were welcomed by old IDPs who were formerly displaced from the same area, they were given temporary shelter for a while , they later erected their own small bush made of sticks, cartons , worn out clothes .however life in the IDPs camps was not pleasing according to Asad compared to their previously life which was mainly based on farming. He said that in the IDPs, the basic needs of life which are food, shelter, and clothes are all in question mark. In addition to that there is constant domestic violence, rape cases, child abuse in the IDPs which was very strange to him. The young boy added that there was frequent quarrel, as well as fight between his parents due to family bill which later resulted their separation and life became more difficult for him since there was nobody to support him , his father was nowhere to be seen , his mother had nothing in hand yet there were other young children than him who needed to be brought up, as a result he decided to join the street children which he saw was a simple life, he now scavenges in between km-4 junction and Waberi District, Asad said that garbage’s, rubbish bin , left over from hotels and able families are the main sources of his life , he also mentioned that he does not use any sort of drug as others do. Some of the challenges he faces now are, since he is new to this kind life, other experience old street children snatch or grab the food he collects beside that sometimes he is displaced from his position of sleep along the walls by similar groups this always force him either to look for an alternative place, or at times sleep hungry. Though he is not contented with this kind of life but there is no other option at the moment. But he believes that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that life will positively change from what it is now, and thus everybody will live in a promising future.
10 years old orphan girl Nasra helps her family
Nasra Osman saiid is 10 years old girl from Qoryoley District who currently lives in H oryal camp in Deynlle District
She is an orphan girl, her father died when she was five years old , their family consist of six members, three boys and three girls and their mother. When they arrived Mogadishu, it was only the mother who was the sole bread winner of the family, by washing clothes, cleaning houses, and sometimes acted as mobile hawker by selling samosa. Nasra said “When I reached at the age of 10 years. I decided to help the mother in selling the samosa. The mother prepares the samosa as early as 6am, then I start to collect the prepared samosa and take them to the market, the challenge I face is that sometimes I get good market, at times the market is poor, there is less sale I return the samosa home, and its consumed by the family members , when the market is good I get at least profit of 1 dollar, this helps the rest of the family members, am happy that four of my young brothers and sisters go to religious school through our effort, and finally I believe I will create better income generating activity in order to improve the standard situation of the our family.
“To be a Street child is not a good option to live in”
Abdi Salam Said Omar 12 years old; lives in the street of KM4 in Hodan District Mogadishu. Abdi is an orphan boy who lost his father at the age of five years; life became different after the death of his father. There were other two young siblings and his amputated mother who as well needed support and care Abdi said “when I saw the hard life of my family are facing I decided to go out and manage the daily life of our family. My family lives in Hiliwa Districts, in every morning I walked from Hiliwaa to KM4 which is around 8 KM, I start collecting the garbage (remains) of Khat and resell it to the porters and low class people”, this act as income generating activity to him and his family too. Since he is a drug addict in he also use the money to buy glue to sniff instead of engaging theft cases, he is the only sole bread winner of their family. Most of the time he spends with his peer friends at km-4, though he regularly pays visit home and give them the required family bill.
“To be a Street child is not a good option to live in”, said Abdi however “there is no other alternative or proper Government that support one so as to overcome such difficult life”, and he ended his words by appealing to both local and international agencies to help the plight of street children.
Husein Mahamed Ali aged 14 is the one of homeless boys who lives in a bridge at Waberi District,
Hussein is an orphan his Father Passed away while was young, at that time they were five children and was the oldest at all, their settlement home was hamar jajab District, after death of thier Father, their life became difficult, in addition to that their only mother travelled to Saudi Arabia where her mother lived. They decided to shift and live next to their old grandmother who lived in ex- American Embassy area, their Situation in life was getting worse day after day since the grandmother was not in position to help them due to age factor.
He decided to look for another alternative in life, he thought of how children of age were living in such a big city, as a result Hussein made self-survey, he found out that the junction at km-4 in Mogadishu was suitable place for him to live since there were many others of his age living there, who had the same problem he faced in life,
He made consultation with some considerate friends after he openly disclosed the entire situation of his family, he was advised to be a shoe shiner, Hussein never knew where to start first and the materials required however he gradually got training from his new friends, little by little, bit by bit, he became an expert in shoe shining, he was now able to cater for the needs of his family on daily basis. He soon became the bread winner of the his brothers, sisters, and the aged grandmother, Hussein became drug addict due to peer influence and opted to stay with his company day and night after he takes the bill home , he immediately rush back to his dear friends, they ate together, sniffed glue together. Slept in the same area, defended each other in case of any external attack from other groups, and life was simple to him this time , he had less worries , he was contented in the situation he was which he saw was the only better option for him since he was self-reliant person now, during the discussion with him , he said that if he sees willing agency that will support and change their life style he will welcome and join them as long as they are contributive , constructive to him and his beloved unforgettable friends who helped him during the time of difficulties
“Shoe shining is my life”
Ibrahim Mayow Ali is ten years old boy displaced from Qoryoley District in lower Shabelle particularly village called Bula sheikh. Ibrahim is an orphan who lost his father when he was still young, there are other children in their whom they are of the same parents. During their stay at Qoryoley, they were cattle keepers as well as peasant’s farmers. Unfortunately they lost all their properties in the course of the fierce fight in the area, there was no means of transportation in the area they lived due to the fight, this forced to track up to Qoryoley District with children only, the little belongings they collected was forcefully taken from them on their to the District by unknown armed men, they also faced beating and torture, fortunately they were released and reached their destination safe and bare handed.at that time there was influx of population at Qoryoley District who flew from its surroundings as a result they could not get proper care thus decided to move to Mogadishu in large group. After long, tiresome journey they arrived outskirts of Mogadishu where they saw many IDPs settlement, who welcomed them, helped them get temporary shelter for weeks, according to him life in IDPs camp was hectic and as well unbearable, there was no proper shelter, feeding, poor hygiene conditions, constant domestic fights, rape cases and worse of all unemployment. It was hard to cope with such pathetic situation and therefore decided to look for better solution in order to cover his personal needs and that of the entire family. He developed close relation with old IDPs children who came long time before them and carefully observed how they earned their daily bread, he came to know that majority of them were shoe shiners. In order to familirise with Mogadishu environment , he had to go with them every day , came back with them again in the evening as a result he has developed good skills in shoe shining more so how to deal with customers not forgetting to learn the most strategic areas and those that are risk in one’s life. He consulted his mother who also served as house cleaner, clothes washer for the able families in order to sustain family needs, she did not hesitate about his opinion but gave him full support and courage, she gave some money to buy the necessary material required of which he did with help of friends . Due to his upright character and behavior he developed many clients, thereby become among the popular shoe shiners in the town. Ibrahim was now able to cater for his personal needs and that of the entire family. Though he still beeives that this is not enough there is need to get education, other life skill twining unfortunately there was nobody on sight offering such constructive programs to the infortunes who are left behind, however he hopes that one day one time things will positively change however long it may take doesn’t matter.
“Washing cars is not an easy task”
Sabow Ali is Young boy displaced from qoryoley District special rural area called Jirow, when they were living there their lives depend onfarming activity ,due to the fight between al shabab and government that happened in the area, he and his family Moved into Mogadishu , they are current live in IDP Camp Called Africa Located at Daynile District .
Sabdow discovered that life in the IDP camps was difficult and hard to bear, there was no proper shelter, food as well as lack of medical care, due to over population some people took advantage of the situation and misused children, it was very strange and unbelievable compared to the previous life they were living in. unemployment was one major challenge that all IDPs children faced, in order to overcome that he decided to look for income generating activity so as to support their family needs. In the morning he goes to religious school after he is over with learning sessions, he immediately joins one his team mate whom they carry out the same activity which is car wash for half a day and the rest of the day he loins another team who are shoe shiners, this gives him the courage to be the only bread winner of the family, he does not use all kind drug or alcoholic drinks.
The little money he gets is used for family use and as well to educate himself and the rest of his young sisters and brothers
Child sexual abuse case
Qasim Adan Ali, four years old IDP living in Elasha Biyaha about 15kim away from Mogadishu in Afgoye corridor, the family of the victim already displaced from Qoryooley due to droughts and conflicts that hit in the region. The family then moved to Mogadishu looking for better living condition, they found space in Elasha Biyaha and set up their small hut. On 5 October, the father of the young went for work; man came to the house and raped the young boy, the man immediately run away from the scene. The case was referred to SWDC where he received psychosocial support and referred to Burane medical center which proved the incident. His case has been documented and prepared for legal action.