Fatuma Hassan’s world was full of surprise and vibrant gestures. With a hearing impairment a young girl born in Kismayo navigated life through lens. While children of her age eagerly waited to kick off a journey of schooling, Fatuma’s way was full of uncertainty. Education was an inaccessible dream for Fatuma due to her hearing impairment and lack of special needs school within her town (Kismayo).

Throughout, Fatuma possessed an unwavering spirit and deep desire to read and learn.  Despite all the challenges, Fatuma’s goal was to help her family who had displaced by the unrelenting drought and the brutal civil war. The burden of helping her family rebuild their lives weighed a lot on Fatuma’s shoulders. She believed education was the only key to overcome all these challenges. It was with this great determination that she encountered the arrival of ADRA Somalia’s special needs education program at Beder Primary School.

With ADRA’s support Fatuma enrolled and started learning through sign language and this enabled her to communicate effectively. Despite her feeling happy to be in school she also struggled to the new environment since she has never been to a classroom before.

“Many learners find hard to adapt to this environment and as teachers we are trying our best to make them all get access to equal education “said Mr. Abdi a sign language teacher at Beder school.  Through the Together for Inclusion (TOFI) project funded by NORAD, ADRA Somalia has been able to offer wide-ranging support in different areas of Education.

Fatuma in class having a discussion with her teacher.

Fatuma truly represents a clear example of how the Adventist Development and Relief Agency empowers and provides equal education to all learners in Somalia. Hundreds of learners like Fatuma have been missing chances to get education due to the civil war and various humanitarian challenges that were present before.

“ADRA’s special need program’s main objective was to provide equal and accessible education to all learners regarding who they are or where they come from” said Ali Dekow ADRA’s deputy project manager for education. The special needs program has enabled all learners with different kind of disability to be part of the program and access education.

Fatuma will be among the first group of learners to do their final primary exam in the entire country in the coming weeks. ADRA’s program has enabled many to dream and Fatuma is among the dreamers who were never left out since the start of the program.

The nurturing of such young learners is seen as a successful future for the upcoming leaders of tomorrow. ADRA’s TOFI program has been able to train learners and teachers with disabilities giving them space to be exposed to the new world of digital communication.

 According to the school head teacher, ADRA’s collaboration with the school has enabled the growth to increase and motivated many disabled young generations to enroll to the school and get education. The head teacher added that, “Before we never had a space or teachers who could teach sign language, the materials for learner like the brail machine and through ADRA’s support we managed to create an equal opportunity for all learners and therefore we thank ADRA for the support.”

Through the last decade Somalia has been slowly recovering from the civil war and trying to create milestones in field like education. With close to 2.2 million learners been out of school due to conflict, climate challenge and displacements. The TOFI program implemented by ADRA and funded by NORAD has been helpful in developing education sector for learners in Somalia with disabilities.