A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AMRAN - AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROJECT ASSISTANT IN SOMALIA.
“My name is Amran, I’m 25-years-old, and I’m an Early Childhood Education Project Assistant based in Beletweyne office in Hiiran region, Somalia. I am a mother of two children, two boys, who are three-years-old and two-years-old.
My job is mainly to assist teachers and children in Early Childhood Education centres (ECE) in Beletweyne. These centres have students from ages 3 to 6 who come from vulnerable families. Our main objective is to ensure that children have access to education and are able to learn. We want to make sure that children do not drop out. Currently, we have 2,300 children enrolled. I go to these centres every day and work closely with the teachers, so the children are getting the most out of their lessons.
I enjoy working, interacting, and molding children’s future through an entertaining learning environment. But there are always challenges in every task. In our community one of the primary challenges that we faced was that Early Education Centres were a new concept to the community and we have to put a lot of effort into building understanding and acceptance amongst the community.
My day starts
4:30am: “Every day, I wake up at 4:30am. I take shower and pray morning prayer (Fajr). I start preparing breakfast for the family. After that, I have my breakfast—usually I eat breakfast with my children, then prepare myself and dress for work.
7:20am: I go to office which is three kilometers away from my house. I usually walk to the office.
Beletweyne is a town in central Somalia on the banks of Shabelle river. I was born here, and I like the weather which is a seasonal-- it is a little bit cold during the rainy seasons and hot and humid during the dry season. We have farmers and pastoralists in and around the town. Agriculture and livestock are the backbone of the economy in the region. Many families send products from their livestock and farms to the local market to be sold.
Beletweyne is suffering from the impact of climate change. For examples, there are spells of prolonged dry seasons where pastoralists lose their livelihoods because they cannot feed their livestock and wells dry up - hence millions of people face the risk of starvation. Also, during the rainy seasons, Beletweyne also faces flooding from the river, thus farmers loss their crop and many families are displaced from the town. The most recent one was in 2019, where about a quarter of million were displaced by floods in the town.
So children in these centres face these kinds of experiences. Their families have in one way or another been impacted by the droughts and floods.
When I get to the office, I meet with my colleagues and my supervisor; we plan together and prepare for the daily monitoring of the schools.
8:30: I leave the office and head to the ECE centres at 8:30 am. At the ECE centres, I interact with children inside and outside the class. When I arrive I enjoy seeing all the smiling children. I want to them to graduate from the centres and join other schools, I hope that all of them continue learning, finish school and create a better future for themselves and their families.
Sometimes I conduct guided play for the children with games such as slides, ropes, football, and building blocks. I also support the facilitators on their routines, supervise how young children are attended to, and help with the feeding and care of the young children. I also work with community child protection committees and ensure that all the children feel safe while inside and on their journey to the centre.
Many parents who could not afford to pay the school fees of their children are now able to send their children to the ECE schools Save the Children supports. In these centres, we have a school feeding program, which reduces the burden on parents who might be struggling with income. This came as a result of door-to-door campaigns led by me. Also, the feeding program in the ECE schools have raised the nutritional level of many children in the ECE schools who were malnourished before.
One part of my role I’m proud of is working closely with parent and child welfare committees. This ensures children who are at risk of child labour are enrolled in the ECE schools to help them have a brighter future.
Through the provision of quality learning at the centres and by providing trainings to the teachers, many have transited to the formal primary schools and others are at the ECE schools currently receiving quality education. I have contributed a lot to this outcome and I feel happy, and at least I know I have done something positive for children and their teachers.
13:00: I come back to the office at 13:00. When I come back to the office, I normally have lunch and perform noon (Duhur) prayer. I plan for the following day and attend any other work available or that has been assigned to me by my supervisor. I then prepare my daily updates and share with my supervisor both the exciting things that I saw in the field or any challenges I faced.
There are always strong stories, especially children’s stories that will always impact your life - they have emotional stories and sometimes they will make you smile because they ask you some interesting questions.
One story that stood out for me is one about a six-years-old boy called Abdikadir who had a disability.
While he was still very young his mother noticed that Abdilkadir couldn't speak and would prefer to stay by himself. He would often scream when someone tried to speak to him, and he wasn’t learning at the same pace as other children. The mother was so worried about his situation because she believed that her child might never speak and worried if she took him to school, he will not be able to learn and will bullied by other children.
For four years, Abdikadir stayed at home with no interactions with other children and was not able to attend school. In 2019, when Save the Children opened Early Childhood Education centre in his neighborhood, Abdikadir’s story changed. He started coming to the centre and learned how to talk and pronounce the alphabet and numbers.
15:30: At 15:30, I finish and return to my house, I reach home at 16:00 most of the time. The sheer look of joy my children have when I get home freshens up my day. They are the reason that I wake up every morning. It is thanks to their grandmother and their dad who look after them while am away that I can go to work at the ECE.
I start working on housework including preparing dinner for the family and giving a shower to the children. I serve dinner for my children at 19:00 and I go with them to bed at 20:30.
The next day starts from 4:30am again and it keep on repeating itself. Personally, what I love most is when I arrive at the Early Childhood Education centres and I am greeted by many smiling children, and when I get home and are greeted by my children who are waiting for me to come back home!