Fatuma is a form three student at Waberi Secondary School in Daadab. She lives with her brother at the camp after her mother and other siblings went back to Somalia. Her father divorced her mother and now lives in the Ifo section of the camp with his other family.

Growing up, her father denied her an education and refused to educate his daughters after her elder sister dropped out of school. “My father was greatly disappointed when my elder sister dropped out of school and for this he vowed never to take a girl to school again,” Fatuma says. Her wanted her to finish Islamic school and marry her off. But Fatuma had other plans for her life, she wanted to go to school study and become a midwife so that she could help women bring forth life.

Fatuma admired her friends who attended regular school and she wished she could be like them. “I would cry everyday as I watched my friends go to regular school, I also wanted to study and am glad that my friends taught me everything they learnt in school,” she says. Fatuma’s friends then contributed money to buy her uniform and stationery so that she could be enrolled at school. “My friends supported me to join school, Mariam in particular ensured that she passed on her new uniforms to me as I grew older and taller.

So how did she do it?

Fatuma pretended to go to Islamic School everyday but would take a detour to school. “Every morning I bade my parents goodbye and headed to the Islamic School, I would however take a detour to Mariam’s house where I would change into school uniform and head to school. After school I would go back to Mariam’s home and change out of the uniform and head home.

The Revelation

For 6 years, her parents did not know that she was attending school but this changed when she topped her class in class 4 and her father’s friend came home to deliver the prize. “My parents were very shocked and excited at the same time, my father couldn’t believe it and from then on begun encouraging me in school.” To date Fatuma’s father is her greatest supporter and he keeps tabs on her education and is in constant communication with her teachers in regards to her performance.

Fatuma urges other girls in Daadab to go to school even when they are faced with a myriad of challenges. She muses “If one door is closed, there are may other open ones, therefore it is possible for refugee girls in Daadab to overcome the challenges that stop them from attending school.