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Somaliland: a drought, four boys and a ball

We arrive in Oodweyne, Somaliland at 10.30am. The environment seems lush, a deceptive picture of the real situation.

Our first stop is the community centre where I meet four young boys: Nur, Abdi, Fathi and Adnan aged 17, 14, 16 and 12.

They are here to attend a meeting to discuss a Save the Children project coming to an end. They are representing the children’s clubs started by Save the Children in different schools.

As well as providing the children with a safe environment, the clubs train them on their right to protection and good hygiene practices.

Nur invites us to his parent’s house. We are ushered into a one-room house and a papyrus mat is rolled out on the floor for us to sit on.

The children share their thoughts on the drought and how it is affecting them and their community.

Nur, Abdi, Fathi and Adnan with members of our field staff

Challenges

“Children and teachers from outside villages have already moved.

“Many of our friends have moved away and we do not have enough teachers in our school. Some of the children are not able to come to school every day.”

They are disheartened. The drought is becoming worse. Water and food shortages are big challenges.

The much-awaited Gu rains were scanty at best. Farmers watched their plants dry out at a few inches high and their animals waste away.

Losing hope

Many families, having lost all hope of a harvest this year, have moved to other areas in search of better conditions.

The children aren’t shielded from the effects of the drought.

“We have to share the little we have among many of us. Before the crisis we ate three meals a day, now we are lucky if we eat two.”

Children from poor families are dropping out of school to be shoe shiners, barbers, water collectors, charcoal sellers and work in restaurants to supplement diminishing household incomes.

These boys are lucky to continue with their education

Growing up too quickly

“We play outside school using a ball we bought after contributing our morning tea money. It was the cheapest we could find at $1.50.

“The main thing for us is sports: football, volleyball and basketball!” Abdi says and the other boys nod in agreement.

The ability to learn and play allows them to be children in a world which is forcing them to grow up too quickly.

They struggle to stay positive in the shadow of insufficiency. In a world where one could find a million reasons to be unhappy; who knew a ball, four boys and happy smiles could paint such an inspiring picture on the grim canvas of a worsening drought?

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