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8 February 2023 - Story

"I believe my disability can't be an obstacle to my dreams." Muzimal*, 13 years old.

Thirteen years old Muzimal* dreams of becoming a teacher one day. Today, he enrolled into a school 300 meters from his makeshift house in an internally displaced people's camp in Baidoa. The family arrived at the camp few months ago, and Muzimal used to see other children going to school every day.

Muzimal is a child with a disability since he was born, and his father worries that if he sends Muzimal to school, he will be bullied by other children. However, despite these challenges, Muzimal* has started attending school for the first time. He says he enjoys learning and has already made friends who welcomed him into the school. But his father is worried that his child might be discriminated against in the school because he has a disability and may not be able to learn like other children.

Muzimal's* family were farmers who harvested crops such as beans and maize that depended on the seasonal rains. However, in 2019, a lack of sufficient rainfall inspired by climate change led to their crops dried, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of families in their region and forcing Muzimal* and his family to flee to Baidoa.

 With funds from ECHO, Save the Children Somalia programme is running schools in Baidoa in internally displaced peoples' camps. The programme aims to respond to acute needs in education and child protection stemming from the protracted crisis in Somalia, and it is being implemented across 50 schools in four districts in Southern Somalia. Close to 37,406 children benefit from the programme, which aims to increase access, retention and transition of children and adolescents to equitable, quality, inclusive and protective formal and non-formal education. The programme also improves the quality of teaching and learning for vulnerable and marginalized boys and girls like Muzimal* who have been affected by humanitarian crisis, and support vulnerable boys and girls to study in a safe, inclusive and protective learning environment.

 Muzimal* said: "I am the second born in a family of three siblings; one girl and two boys. I was born in a village outside the Baidoa district. Our life there was quite much better."

"We owned a farm and livestock such as cows and goats. Our father used to plant crops such as maize and beans during the rainy seasons in the farm. In the beginning, we loved our life as farmers. We used to get food from the farm and never slept hungry."

 "While we were still young, our mother passed away, and my father started taking care of us. He ensures that we get the assistance we need even though it's tough for him to get us food and help in house chores.

"Then things become increasingly difficult. Rains failed in 2019, and we didn't receive rain for months, and our crops dead."

 "In the past, when it became dry, our father used to migrate with our domestic animals, but this time he could not leave us behind in search of grazing because there was no other person to take care of us. He feared leaving us alone. As a result, we lost all our livestock due to poor pasture to graze on."

"We moved to Southwest state and are staying in a temporary makeshift house that accommodates all of us. Immediately after our move, my sister enrolled in a school and is currently in grade four. Each morning, I saw her returning to school every day. I also wanted to go to school and learn just like her, but my father was scared because he could not take me to school every day. One day, I decided to go to school to support myself. Though the school is not far, I took more time to reach it because I could not walk like other children."

" Sun is very hot here, and sometimes I struggle to walk to school because it is very hot day. Some days I collapse on the road and will be there until someone helps me.

"My siblings support me, and I appreciate the strong love bond we get from our dad."

"I have the opportunity to develop and shape my destiny. But the only way to develop my potential is to go through the barriers and challenges."

"I believe that disability can't be an excuse for my progress, but my commitment and the kind of support I receive will eventually contribute to my desire to achieve my dream. I have big dreams, and I have to achieve them even if I have to achieve them on the roughest road."

Issa* - Muzamil*'s father, stated: "I am a father of three children; two boys and one girl. All my three children were born in the village. Muzimal is a child with a disability. So, it was tough for me as a father to raise him like other children. I worry about him a lot."

"We lost everything we own and that's why we moved here. At this IDP camp, I also faced challenges to feed my children. There are no plenty jobs to do here."

"Muzamil* is a smart boy with a passion for learning, and I know he will overcome any obstacle laid on his path. But, as a father, I pray that God guides him all through."

"I am thankful for all those supporting him to ensure he is learning; may God bless you. He always used to ask if I could take him to school, but I insisted not to send him to school because of his disability."

Names changed to protect the identity of the contributors.