published in EducationRefugees on August 13, 2018

The chance to see another life

80 year old Hawa Ali Abdi was blinded in one eye while collecting firewood to support her grandchildren. Here, she tells why education for these children is so important.

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“I have been here at Holl Holl for 25 years. I was the very first refugee to come here from Somalia.

I left Somalia when the war started in 1991.

Before then, I had goats and cows and camels. I collect milk and sell it in Mogadishu. I was very happy because we always had enough food.

Then the war came. Sometimes there are bombs when you are walking.

There is shooting. It is like in the movies, when everybody falls down to the ground.

They see you buying tomatoes, and they think you have money, and then they shoot you.

We had to leave everything. All our animals. We did not take anything. We had to walk because we did not have money for a car. We travel at night.

When I arrived here, I was given a Registration Card. They welcomed me and gave me food.

But it is not enough, so I collect firewood.

I had four children, but two have died.

One daughter was in an early marriage. She had completed Grade 8, but she became pregnant, but she died in childbirth. She was 15. She died, but the child is alive.

The other girl was 20. She went into labour, and she too died. Her baby is also alive, but she has a disability with a back problem, and also her neck. Her name is Sabrine.

Because there is not enough food, I collect firewood to earn money to help my grandchildren, and for Sabrine.

One day I was making firewood when it broke, and went into my eye. There is no extra care here for my eye … but what is important here in Djibouti is that there is peace.

I have six grandchildren. They are all going to school.

The children like to go to school. I only stay in this camp so that they can go to school.

The most important thing is education. Without education, why would you stay here?

For me, I do not know how to write anything. My mother did not take me one single day to school. I cannot write, and I cannot read.

But now I understand how important education is. That is why my children must go to school.

Sabrine has a problem with her legs and her neck.

Her mother died giving birth, so this is why she is here with me. But if I am sick, there is no one to care for her.

I get support from LWF to help me with my grandchildren. They are helping me as much as they can.

The children need more treatment and support so they can have a better life.

I am saying thank you to LWF for how they support me and contact me.

I am saying to the donors thank you very much.

I am happy that these Christians are helping us, even though we are Muslims.

I would like to say it is better to get a chance to see another life. We need to get good doctors. If I do not get good treatment, I cannot take care of my grandchildren.

My grandchildren are small, and that is why they must go with me. I want them to have more education, more health, and more economic security.

I am happy to share my story with you to give Sabrine the chance to get help. If she can learn to walk and talk, I will be happy for her.