Somalia: who can tell what a child will grow up to be?
When I was 15 I was still in school and probably drooling over some 80’s film star and moaning about homework.
Halima, the woman I am sat with in hot and dusty Puntland, Somalia, was pregnant with her first baby.
Now 17, Halima still looks like a child, and far too young to have children of her own.
She admires my oversized mumu dress (she looks far more glamorous than I), and she shrieks with laughter when I confess that I am 28, and still unmarried.
“Why?” she asks. “What is wrong with you?” I don’t really have an answer, so I laugh and quickly change the subject.
“Perhaps a teacher, doctor or businessman”
She tells me that she has never been to school, but that she would have loved to go.
Money was always a challenge for her parents. It’s something she is determined to fix for her own son.
“I will work hard to make sure Ahmed can go. Who can tell what a child will grow up to be?
“Perhaps a teacher, a doctor or a businessman. Without school he will do none of these things, I know. Perhaps he will serve his community, as the health workers here do.”
Health workers save lives
I ask her about the health workers, and how she came to be sitting here in this clinic.
“The Save the Children team came to my home to check on Ahmed, to see if he was healthy. We have struggled for food a lot in the past year, and Ahmed is not so well.
“If I think about what would have happened if we could not come to this Save the Children health centre I feel very scared.
“I don’t know where else I could have gone – perhaps there is somewhere I could walk to, but I don’t know for sure.
“I cannot think about what would have happened if your healthworkers had not come to my home, if Ahmed had not got help from here, perhaps he would have been close to death by the time I found somewhere else. But he is well now.”
Halima is smiling brightly at me, confident in her future, and that of her son. She tells every woman that walks through the door that I am still unmarried at 28, and promises to pray for me to find a husband.
I ask her if there is a message she would want me to give to Save the Children. Word for word, she says:
“To everyone that works at Save the Children and all who give money, I would say thank you. The help we receive here has helped many people, and saved many lives. Thank you.”