07 September, 2013
Why it is not enough for a girl to be gifted in Somaliland
Sep 06, 2013 12:35 PM
In Somaliland, quality of life often depends on access to primary education. For many girls, however, a life of housework and caregiving begins early. Samia was taken out of school to care for her family when her father fell ill. SOS Children gave her back her education.
“I used to come top in all the exams,” she says. “My friends called me ‘the gifted girl.'” But when her father became ill with HIV/AIDS, her family lost its only source of income. Samia’s education was sacrificed so that she could stay home to run the household and care for her father. Her five brothers remained in school, because in Somaliland, boys’ education is the priority.
“I was getting ready for school as normal,” Samia recalls. “Then my mother told me I wouldn’t be going. Only my brothers could go to school.”
Her shame and sadness was so much, that she avoided her former classmates: “I didn’t want my friends to see me helpless at home. I was so lonely.”
A year later, Samia’s father died. Her mother was also diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Infection is a huge source of stigma in Somaliland. The shame and risk of exclusion from society was so severe that Samia’s oldest brother ran away from home.
With her father gone and her mother sick, Samia needed help to keep food on the table. She knew that even if she somehow managed to feed her family, she would never be able to read or write fluently, or pursue the successful career she dreamt of.
Two years after she left school, something changed. When SOS Children found out about Samia’s dire situation, we stepped in to provide the support the family needed to survive. We encouraged Samia’s brother to return, and provided a grant which enabled him to start up a business. Today, he runs a successful workshop and makes enough money to support the whole family.
And Samia was able to return to school.
As part of a partnership with communities and other organisation, we are working to highlight the importance of education for all children in Somaliland. We are helping people understand the realities of HIV/AIDS so that families like Samia’s are not stigmatised through infection. Samia is just one of many girls who have been re-enrolled in school and given everything they need to flourish in education.
Today, many girls like Samia have what every child should take for granted.