Abdi is one of the most serious boys I’ve ever met. In fact, in the hour we spend together talking, I only see him smile once – when I take his picture.
Abdi is 14 years old and lives near the village of Boodhlay; a small pastoral community we’re supporting in the eastern regions of Somaliland.
Like most people in this village his family are dependent on their livestock to provide them with food, milk and income.
He is one of ten children and the only of his brothers and sisters to go to school. All the rest stay at home and help to look after the family’s animals.
Every day he walks for an hour and a half to get to school and then the same again to come home. He has an appreciation of the power of education that would have shamed my 14-year-old self.
“My education is very important to me,” he tells me. “I don’t think that anything else would matter to me so much that I would make this journey over and over. Nothing is more important. I need to be able to help my family. When I grow up and finish my education I can do this.”
Struggling to recover
Abdi’s village is currently suffering the effects of poor seasonal April to June rains. Pasture for animals to graze on is extremely limited and water for both livestock and human consumption is scarce.
Already vulnerable as a result of last year’s drought, villages like this all over eastern Somaliland are struggling to recover and return to normal life.
“When there is no rain we move a lot,” Abdi says. “We move to different places in search of food for our animals. I worry a lot about having to drop out of school. If my family moves again we might not come back and I will have no chance of finishing my studies.
“One day I hope to be a teacher myself. But if the rains do not come again my family will move and I will have to follow them.
“Things are hard now. It is difficult to get food and sometimes our water is dirty. I never have any food during break time at school and so concentrating in class is hard. Sometimes when I get home there is nothing to eat either so I try to go to sleep so that breakfast comes sooner.
“There is no one else to look after me if my family has to leave. I would have to go with them and drop out of school. I wish we had a school where I could eat and stay. That way no one could ever take me away.”
Little to smile about
Abdi is one of the most serious boys I have ever met, and not without good reason. A 14-year-old shouldn’t have to worry about being able to complete his primary education. This is his right.
We’re already on the ground, working in a total of 21 villages across eastern Somaliland where we currently support schools.
We’re trucking in water and rehabilitating local water sources so that families, like Abdi’s, have immediate access to safe water in these difficult times.
If you would like to support our work in emergencies, please donate to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund, which allows us to respond quickly when disaster strikes.