From an early age Abdi dreamed about going to university. Born and raised in Mogadishu, Somalia, Abdi’s dreams were shattered when he was in 8th grade when civil unrest, insecurity and government disarray cause the education system to collapse, which meant that Abdi’s education ended when he was only 14. The collapse of Somalia’s schools was just one reason Abdi’s family decided to try send him away to a place where he would be safe and where he could continue his education. From other families’ experience, Abdi’s parents knew – if they could get enough money for a plane ticket – they could send their son to Malaysia, which they did. In Kuala Lumpur Abdi could legally enter the country without a visa, which he did; but then he crossed illegally, as hundreds of asylum seekers and economic migrant do each month, to Medan, Indonesia. By bus from there, Abdi reached Jakarta in August 2016, where he knew, also from others’ experience, to contact the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to register as an asylum seeker.
As is their practice with children seeking asylum, UNHCR referred Abdi to CWS for care and protection in one of our group homes for unaccompanied and separated refugee children. Once settled in one of the four group homes for boys, Abdi found safety and he was able to recall his dream of having an education. “In the group home I found the security that I didn’t have in Somalia. And there are classes here, including language classes, which are important to help me fulfill my dream of going to university one day.” It is helpful, Abdi continues, that “CWS social workers always encourage me to strive more and to be never satisfied when it comes to learning. They keep saying that education is the way to success.” So far, the highlight of Abdi’s journey to better education has been a Social Entrepreneurship training program organized by the UNHCR and the International Labor Organizations (ILO). The six-month program has classes focused on life skills and entrepreneurship, which meet twice weekly. In sharing his experience in taking the course, Abdi notes that he is learning (in his own words) “to be an entrepreneur from the ground up”. He talks about how the teachers explain all the basics: management, finance, marketing and sales; and, he tells us there are even sessions about emotional wellbeing. So, the course leaves no detail out. In closing his conversation with CWS staff who were interested to learn how the course had gone, Abdi said this, “These are the types of classes we refugees need; and, you know, the knowledge will stay with us – wherever we go.”
For CWS team members who know about Abdi’s dream of higher education one day, he is an example for others by showing that he does not let being in a difficult situation stop him from continuing to learn. Abdi is one of the most knowledgeable and most active students in his group home, and he knows that if he continues what he is doing, and never stops learning, his dream of going to university and eventually be of service to his country – Somalia or a new adopted country – could come true.
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