The Government of Ethiopia, humanitarian and development donors held a round table discussion on supporting the education of refugee children affected by conflict. The meeting, held on the initiative of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Ethiopia, the Humanitarian and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) and Save the Children, also discussed finding innovative solutions to increase the self-reliance of long term refugees.
During the event, four children from Dolo Ado refugee camps were rewarded for their drawings revolving around the theme of ‘Children of Peace’. The top 20 drawings were displayed at the meeting.
The project, funded by the Nobel Peace Prize money that was awarded to the European Union and implemented by Save the Children, seeks to provide quality education for the children in Dolo Ado.
Over 5 000 children from four camps entered the drawing competition. Here are the top four.
Farhiya Hassan Abuker was the overall winner. The 12-year old girl comes from Bakool region in Somalia and has lived in Dolo Ado for two and half years. She is now in Grade 1 and like most children in the camps, prior to fleeing to Dolo Ado, had never been to school.
“There were no schools in Bakool. I like school because I want to get an education. With education, I can help myself and my parents. My favourite subjects are English and Somali languages. I want to be able to read and write.
I’m happy to have won the competition. I drew the flags of Ethiopia and Somalia, huts, buildings and a ball. These are the things that I like.
Daud Mohamed Madker, a 13-year old boy came second in the competition. He is in Grade 2 and fled Somalia two years ago.
“I enjoy learning especially Environmental Science and English. I’ve learnt that washing hands after visiting the toilet and before eating keeps germs away.
I drew a picture of my school and my friends, because I want to remember them in the future. I also drew a car, because I want to own one. I want to become a teacher so that I can teach other children.
Education is important. If you don’t get education, you remain ignorant. But with education, you can go anywhere.
I don’t want to go back to Somalia. From the camp, I would like to go to a city, like Addis Ababa.”
Abshir Mohamed Ibrahim, a 12-year old boy took the third place. He is in Grade 2 and has lived in Dolo Ado for two years. He too is originally from the Bakool region of south central Somalia.
“I made a drawing of houses, because when I grow up, I want to build my own house. That is why I go to school; to get a job and build a good house. We had a better home in Somalia, but we could not stay there because of the fighting and lack of food.
I want to become a teacher so that I can teach young children; and in turn they will be able to help their parents and build better lives for themselves.”
Adey Abshir Mohamed, a 10-year old girl was ranked fourth in the drawing competition. She is in Grade 2 and is originally from Baidowa. She has lived in the camp for two years.
“My favourite subjects are English and Mathematics. I want to be a doctor so that I can treat the people in my community. I have seen sick people at the health centre in the camp. I would like to help the sick.
My drawing shows agencies that are helping us in the camp. It signifies the different type of support that we receive. The NGOs (non-governmental organisations) give us water, medical care, and learning material. I think water and education are the most important things.
I don’t like staying in the camp. I want to go back home; but I also want to learn and achieve my dreams.”
Decades of conflict have denied most children in Somalia an opportunity to go to school. In Dolo Ado, both the young refugees and the youth are getting a chance to learn.
The European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is supporting both primary school education and vocational training for the youth. With a proper education, young refugees stand a better chance in life and are likely to be more self-reliant.
By Martin Karimi
Regional Information Assistant in Nairobi, Kenya