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Mogadishu centre educates children from struggling families

Monday September 13, 2021

(ERGO) – Ilyas Abdikadir Adan, 12, and his nine-year-old brother Abdi Manan used to worry about where their next meal was coming from because their widowed mother was barely able to keep the large family fed.

Since their father, a tuk-tuk driver, was killed in 2019 in a shooting incident involving the army at Mogadishu’s Sana’a roundabout, Ilyas had been helping his mother selling vegetables to earn enough money to cook one meal a day.

The two boys are now among 50 children aged seven to 13 being supported by Iftin centre, a charitable centre in Tareedisho, on the southern outskirts of Mogadishu.

“I am studying both Koranic and secular classes. I wasn’t in school before, I was just studying madarasa, and even for the madarasa I didn’t pay any fees as we were living a tough life,” Ilyas said.

As his mother could not afford the fees his madarasa teacher was teaching him for free.

“Some days I used to go to madarasa without eating. We only used to cook supper. But now I don’t think I am missing anything, I am studying well, and my mother is happy with me.”

Since October 2020, the brothers and other children have been getting food, accommodation and education at Iftin centre. Most of the children come from families who were displaced from Shabelle regions, Bakool, Hiran and Bay and lost their fathers in conflict.

Sayid Ali Omar, the founder and director, hired someone to run his grocery store in order to devote himself fulltime to the centre. He contributes $300 a month to the centre and relies on other contributions from local and diaspora givers, although money is often short.

“I take the food on credit. If we could get an agency to support us, these children would receive enough food. We pay off the loans when we receive donations from well-wishers, and that is how we run this place,” he said.

Sayid says he himself benefited from similar help at a children’s centre as a child after his father died and this is his way of giving back to society. He wants them to have an education and a chance at life.

Ten children at the centre, which was built by Darul-biri organisation, are sponsored by Somalis in the diaspora who send up to $50 a month. Sayid hopes to find more such sponsors. Local businesses pay the centre’s water and electricity bills.

Harun Salat Halane, one of the three volunteer teachers, said he has a good relationship with his students and teaches them Arabic, English and Mathematics.

For now the centre has only admitted boys, but plans to expand to accept girls too.

“I am planning to expand this centre so that we can admit 100 to 300 students. We haven’t admitted girls as they need more care than the boys. We will build another centre for girls if we get help from the Somalis,” said Sayid Ali.


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