Rahma’s journey back to school — in her own words

(Courtesy of HUMAN / Malala Fund)

(Courtesy of HUMAN / Malala Fund)

My name is Rahma, which means mercy. I was given this beautiful name by my mother after she stayed four years with my father without children, and also she gave me this wonderful name because I was the first born baby of the family. I was born in Somalia, which is located in horn of Africa, a place called Mogdisho the capital city of the country. Really we were beautiful family who lived together with peace and harmony whose main activities were farming and fishing. But unfortunately we fled our place and our farms and i’ve come here because of the fights between the federal government of Somalia and the terrorists.

My family and I arrived in this refugee camp on 14th October 2009. At that time, I was 13 years old and I did not know how to read and write anything. But I had that feeling for learning in my heart. After we settled I saw small children who were going to school in the morning and coming back in the evening. I start asking myself questions. Why did this small children go to that side every morning? What did they do there and why are they punched in every time? One of the fine days, I decided to go with them and see what they were doing there. I saw everything important there. Though I was older than them and I started in school late, that could not hinder my education because I had a natural talent which was that I was a fast learner. So for the first year I had gone to fustion $1 built strong base for the second year after I was examined I sat standard 5 so I jumped the four classes of the lower primary schools because of the work I did. On the other hand I was still struggling to be one of the students who were joining secondary schools in 5 years later. I sat my Kenya National certificate of primary education exams (KEPE) and I got the chance to join secondary schools. Really I was very happy because my hard work paid me.

But what was more painful was that my family went back to Somalia for repatriation so they told me that they can’t leave me here and they convinced me that I can get education in Somalia and also they would pay my school fees. What happened when we settled in fact everything changed automatically. There was lack of security, the rate of bombing was very high and even if you go to learning center, you will think about what time you would be bombed. On the other hand school fees was very expensive and my family could not afford to pay my school fees. I was two months at home when my father prepared me for marriage so far I couldn’t continue my education. In fact I stood up and told the father that I am not going to marry until I finish my study and see my achievements.

So I did not know what to do with my dreams. Really I was in a panic situation. I lost hope and all my wonderful dreams turned to nightmares, and this affected not only me but also the bright futures of many girls who wanted to be the doctors, magistrates, engineers and teachers of tomorrow. Apart from that I stood up and told the father that, I am not going to marry until I finish my study and I started thinking about how to overcome this challenge. I had opened a Facebook account while I was in Dadaab and although Somalia had no functioning phone lines, I had access to my neighbours wifi. I got in touch with a friend who had won a scholarship to a university in Canada. He sent for me $150; I sneaked and got into a bus to Dadaab taking 8 days.

Let’s hug tight our books and pens For our grandmothers were not given this chance Let’s make our fathers proud Let’s make them believe in us. Let’s show them we can do it. Let’s them see the root of education in us.



Rahma is a student and refugee from Somalia.