Snakes on the wall and sand in the eyes

Ph. Alessandro Rocca.

Galbarwaqo is a village in the Mudug area in central-northern Somalia, a region affected by a permanent emergency due to Al Shabaab, clan conflicts and frequent natural disasters.

Until recently, its primary school, located on an open dusty ground, had no fences to protect students from wild animals or the curiosity of people. It comprised two dilapidated rooms whose roof was regularly scattered by the wind. The lessons were regularly interrupted by snakes hidden in the cracks in the wall, or by the sand that blew into the eyes of pupils and teachers. The two existing latrines had an extreme need for rehabilitation.

Through the project “Drought Recovery & Resilience in Hiran, Galgaduud and South Mudug regions” funded by the European Commission, Cesvi could build a 2.5-meter high wall around the school; it could rehabilitate the latrines, renovate the roof and fill the cracks in the walls.

“Compared to before, the differences are huge. We built the school because we believed in the importance of education, but we couldn’t afford its maintenance. Our initiative has been rewarded by Cesvi: with this intervention, the school activities will continue for a long time. Now we just have to find other qualified teachers who can improve the level of teaching ” says Salad Ali, a citizen of Galbarwaqo.

The perimeter wall allows a greater level of safety for students; it will also give a huge advantage to the school: the presence of a protective fence is a requirement for being approved for food distributions by the World Food Program. Once the school will be able to provide students with a meal, their parents, already sensitive to the importance of education thanks to the awareness meetings organized by Cesvi, will be even more motivated to ensure that children attend classes.

I’m glad my school was restored, it was difficult to study and focus in classes like the ones we had before, so many students just stayed home. Now that the school is beautiful and functioning, many are back in class, happy to show off the uniforms distributed by Cesvi “- says Sadiyo Hirsi, a third-class student.

“Cesvi did a commendable job here in Galbarwaqo” says Idle Kulan, whose children attend the newly rehabilitated school. “Cesvi is the only humanitarian organization siding for the well-being of our communities. Not only in the education sector, but also on health and nutrition: levels of malnutrition in our region are well beyond the emergency level. Our situation is very critical, but with Cesvi on our side, we no longer feel alone“.

“Providing inclusive quality education and learning opportunities for all” is the objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To date, however, there are still 303 million children and teenagers who do not have the opportunity to access primary school services or complete their educational path. Poverty, discrimination, armed conflicts and migration are the main causes of early school drop-out. 1 child out of 3 who does not attend school lives in emergency situations (Unicef). To these children is dedicated the International Day of Education, established in December 2018 by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of education in creating a sustainable and resilient society.

Cover photo: Alessandro Rocca