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8 March 2024 - Story


To mark International Women's Day, we follow the story of Filsan*, a child-friendly Space Facilitator on a typical day. In highlighting her journey, we wanted to acknowledge, recognize, and praise the hard work of female teachers from across Somalia.

My name is Filsan and I'm 26 years old mother of six children. From the time I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. "As a child, I always knew I wanted to teach in the future," I recall. "I played teacher, helping others understand their lessons." While my peers dreamed of becoming doctors or soldiers, I was already envisioning myself as a teacher, opening young minds to endless possibilities.

My day starts very early for me, as they do for most mothers here in Somalia. At 4:00 am, I begin with remembrances and prayers, then cook a traditional Somali breakfast for my six children. My eldest two handle their morning routine independently now, but I still assist my four younger ones with getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and all their preparations.

By 6:30 am: Together with my four middle children we set off on the short walk to the nearby Save the Children Child Friendly Space where I have worked as a facilitator for five years now. This role was difficult to achieve, as I had to navigate gender barriers and duties as a young, new mother myself. "After taking a year off to give birth, I started revising with younger neighborhood children and mothers. It was fulfilling prep for my work at the center."

I arrive at 7:00 am sharp - to set an example of punctuality for the children. I check that everything is in order, from the cleanliness of the space to the availability of toys and board. We have a timetable that guides us through the day, and during the first fifteen minutes, I greet the children as they arrive. We currently have 102 children registered at the CFS center, and as they arrive, I check their hygiene, including clipping their nails. 

7:30 – 9:30 am: Our activities kick off with the children sharing what they'd like to do and learn that day. They sing alphabet and number songs, draw pictures of animals and nature, really engaging their creativity from the start. "I believe children are naturally so creative and curious.

The morning continues with a wonderful mixture of interactive lessons and free-play activities like jumping rope, skipping, hide-and-seek, and other games that allow their imaginations to take over. "They discover such surprising talents and produce wonderful results when given that freedom,"

Around 9:30am: it's time for a half-hour break to rest, enjoy a simple snack, and re-energize. "As a mother, I find it quite easy to read their emotions and fluctuating needs - their eyes say it all." Sometimes I'll tell stories, other times they prefer outdoor free play to recharge.

Then it's back to our core activities promptly at 10:00am. While the mornings center around intellectual growth, I'm also hyper-focused on creating a secure, nurturing environment where every child feels protected. I've realized children at this age require as much emotional protection.

By 11:30 am: I make sure each child is safely collected by their family member before cleaning and resetting the classroom space and then head home to prepare lunch for my family.

AFTERNOON: Since most of my children attend afternoon Quran classes in the afternoons, my schedule is much more open than it is in the morning. I spend time with my two youngest children and try to learn something new at the same time. My six children consist of five daughters and three boys. My two eldest children are in third and second grade, while the next four come to the center with me. The youngest two are too young to join me, so I have a family member look after them while I’m at the center.

EVENING: I sit with my children and help them review their Quran lessons. I also assist the older two with their homework and tell them stories about the prophets before bedtime. Normally, we only have enough energy for one activity before sleep, but Fridays are everyone’s favourite day since we get to spend almost the entire day together.

Every day at the child-friendly Space is a rewarding experience for me. Engaging with children, teaching them, and being a supportive and friendly presence fills me with satisfaction. Seeing the children graduate and move on to primary school is the most rewarding part of my job. It feels like watching a child take their first steps, and I feel privileged to be a part of their journey.

What's even more satisfying is receiving an acknowledgment that children who transitioned from our center to primary school perform better academically than those who didn't receive a similar opportunity. It confirms that our efforts are making a positive impact on children’s lives.

Balancing work and motherhood can feel challenging, but creating a safe, nurturing space for children is always so rewarding. As a working mother, it is incredibly rewarding to create a safe and friendly environment that helps protect and shape the future of our children, one step at a time.

As I look to the future, my ambition is unchanged: being an unwavering source of support for the vulnerable children who need these nurturing spaces most.

As I consider the future, I aspire to remain a facilitator at this center. My passion for being a source of support for children who require a safe space is a lifelong ambition. I hope that the center can expand and improve its resources to provide for even more children than it currently does.



The Child-Friendly Center was established within the IDP camp in Puntland Somalia with the support of USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) project to provide structured psychosocial and play activities for children as well as positive parenting skills for adults.  The Child-Friendly Center is directly accessed by 147 children - 89 boys and 58 girls and more school-aged children were referred and transferred to neighbouring schools in the camp. Additionally, more children in the camp are also reached through interactive recreational activities, case management including mental health psychosocial support, and parenting without violence sessions.