Last week, on the invitation of FilmAid International we headed to the Daadab Refugee Camp to mentor tens of girls in the refugee camps. In the wake of the recent announcement by the Kenyan government to close the camp due to the security threat it poses to the rest of the country, we felt that there was a need to hold mentorship sessions with the girls to equip them with life skills as well as motivate them as they go back to Somalia.
They were drawn from Hagadera and Waberi Secondary Schools as well as Horyale, Abdiazizi and Hormut Primary Schools.
We met brilliant girls ready to learn. They had all surmounted one challenge or another to be in school. Rahma ran away from her family in Mogadishu after voluntary repatriation to return to the camp because that is the only place she could get an education. Fatuma went to school secretly for 6 years without her parents knowledge. Rahma Omar has been telling off potential suitors who stand in the way of her education.
During the mentorship sessions, the girls expressed their dreams to be great people impacting the society. The refugee girls in Daadab want to be doctors, teachers, gynecologists, engineers, lawyers, lecturers at Oxford University, journalists, Ministers in Somalia, President of Somalia while others wanted to be like Malala. They however are unsure of what the future holds for them given that the forthcoming repatriation to Somalia means that their education will be interrupted if not completely stopped. Notwithstanding, they believe they can be who they want to be.
In one of the sessions, the girls identified the ills that dog their society as female genital mutilation (FGM), Girls not able to go to school, forced marriage and teenage pregnancy, child labour and the war in Somalia. They then went into groups where they designed community service projects to counter these ills. We urged them to come up with projects that were simple and easy to manage and that would not require funding. One group ‘Somali Stars’ came up with a project to eradicate FGM. The ‘Harambee Group’ will implement a project on girl child education where they will champion for the rights of girls to go to school. They also came up with a poem about peace which shows how peaceful Somalia would be if girls were educated. Another group came up with a project ‘ChangeMakers’ where they will be campaigning for the rights of girls so as to eradicate ignorance where by mentoring girls in schools as well as speak to parents about taking their daughters to school
Role Modeling and Celebrating Somali Women Trailblazers
We also held a session on role modeling where the girls identified the leaders they look up to. They identified their mothers and teachers, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Hillary Clinton, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, Wangari Maathai and Fadumo Dayib. Veronica Thamaini the Program Director of Akili Dada’s Young Change Makers program introduced the girls to Somali women trailblazers like Dr. Hawa Abdi, Fatima Jibrell and Edna Adan as well as Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Defence, Amina Mohammed. The girls were able to trail their road to success and learnt that some had to surmount similar challenges to them. The session was combined with visual boarding where the girls came up with an ideal map for their lives. They were able to look into their futures and write down where they see themselves as well as the community and their country Somalia.
The Girl Declaration
The girls learnt about ‘The Girl Declaration’, a call to action to put girls at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. The girls were also taken through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) where they were able to localize every goal to their local context.
They also learnt about embracing their bodies where they were able to affirm the changes that their bodies have undergone and talk freely about menstrual health and hygiene.
As the mentorship sessions for the girls in Daadab came to an end, the girls left inspired and ready to be the change they desire for their communities. We at Akili Dada hope that the invaluable lessons learnt will go a long way in transforming the lives of the girls, their families, their communities and their country Somalia.