Somali Hope Academy is not only education focused. The Foundation ensures the school also participates in other key areas including: women and girls, orphans, vocational learning for local parents (first-aid and CPR), early marriage intervention, development, disaster relief (famine), and nutrition. As a result, the Foundation’s and the school’s actions to gender equality in humanitarian assistance are multi-faceted. In addition to the items noted above, the school actively participates in the “Let Girls Learn Campaign,” provides a volunteer counselor for girls, and ensures the barriers to girl’s education are not only identified, but removed. Gender Equity is one of the United Nations’ goals for sustainable development. The Canadian government also highlights the importance of global gender equality.
For example, ensuring high-quality sanitation facilities exist, ensuring girls are safe in school from bullying or other harassment, and ensuring partnerships with other organizations that provide girls’ hygiene supplies are established. Moreover, the Foundation attempts to ensure the school is composed of at least 50% girls (a goal we are currently surpassing).
The benefit of Somali Hope Academy is immense. The Academy is the only school of its kind in the area and without it the children would go without an education. The school is improving the livelihoods of not only the students, but also the local community. It has created a large ripple effect of touching the lives of many. On their website, the United Nations highlights the importance of education to sustainable development.
The school provides 100% free education to underprivileged girls and boys who would otherwise not receive an education.
The school offers community members First Aid and CPR training.
The school offers a breakfast program, giving the students a healthy start to their school day.
In addition to teaching about proper hygiene and health, the school provides clean water and clean facilities (washrooms, classrooms).
The school coordinated famine support. Students contributed rice, etc. and the teachers donated money.
Early Marriage Symposiums invite all schools in the district to stress the importance of girls attending school and the barriers they face.
Education is a human right and a key to reducing poverty and inequality. It empowers people to transform their lives and the societies in which they live. Education enables people to read, earn better wages, care for their health and have a voice in their communities. It also makes people aware of their rights and opportunities.
We chose to target education because we believe that education is fundamental for the progress of all humanity in general and war weary Somalia in particular. The conflict in Somalia has been on going for almost two decades with a lack of a public education system. Only those who can afford schooling for their children have the option for private, thus effectively isolating a large number of children with a pool of potential and talent. We realized that it is about time to reach out to the marginalized and the poor, so that they too will have a chance to overcome poverty and neglect.
The Somali Hope Academy appreciates the importance of both education and physical health, with a curriculum that emphasizes academics and athletics. Nutrition is an important part of good health and being physically and mentally able to learn. The breakfast program is wonderful example of leadership, foreign aid and community working together to help prepare the students.
Funding from the Norwegian Refugee Council pays for the food. Students’ mothers and women from the community gather early in the morning at an outdoor makeshift kitchen to cook and serve a nutritional porridge for more than 500 students. This provides a good nutritional start for each student, ensuring they can focus on their studies.
Another example of the community working together to make things better is collecting food for disaster relief. Drought is a fact of life in Bursalah, Somalia. When drought has been particularly severe and famine threatened the region, the school coordinated community-wded food collection.