Changing the future, one click at a time

Jess Estrada's picture
Posted by Jess Estrada on
Mon, 10/03/2016

In the following blog post, learn more about CARE's efforts following our partnership in the One Million Bones Challenge:

Youth in Somalia face particular challenges when it comes to finding a path out over poverty.  Living in a country considered one of the poorest and most fragile in the world – a country which has faced decades of drought, conflict and political instability - a majority of Somali youth suffer from a lack of basic education and employment opportunities.  And Somali girls face even greater challenges than their male peers.  When it comes to gender inequality, Somalia is ranked globally in the top four. Women and girls have limited participation in society and in decision-making and have fewer rights than men and boys.

But in the northern region of Somalia, in Garowe, Puntland, Students Rebuild has made it possible for hundreds of Somali youth, both young men and young women, to build a better future for themselves.  In 2013, through the international humanitarian organization CARE, Students Rebuild helped establish the first-ever information technology training center for youth in Puntland.  Thanks to the Students Rebuild initiative, young people in this region of Somalia now have the opportunity to receive training at the Cisco Networking Academy, providing them with knowledge and skills that will lead to future employment and a path out of poverty.

Hamdi Abdulkadir Ali is one of the trainees enrolled at the Cisco Networking Academy in Garowe, Puntland.  She joined the course on June 1, 2016. Hamdi is 21-years-old and is currently a third-year student in computer science at Puntland State University in Garowe.  

Hamdi is the youngest child in her family of four boys and six girls.  While her four brothers were given the opportunity to go to school, her sisters – like most Somali girls - had to stay at home rather than go to school and were married off while they were still young.  Recalls Hamdi, “I watched my sisters get married off one after the other at an early age.”  But Hamdi was fortunate.  As the youngest girl in her family, she was the only one able to attend a formal school, thanks to the persistence of her mother.  Says Hamdi, “My mother struggled to get me into school and she was the reason I am here today.”  Sadly, Hamdi’s mother died when she was 12-years-old, but Hamdi appreciates how much her mother wanted her to get an education. As a child, Hamdi looked up to her mother, who, despite having no opportunity for education in her life, always stressed its importance to her children.

Despite being school, Hamdi saw few opportunities for herself and expected that she would grow up to be a housewife with no opportunities to improve her own life.  But one day she saw her friend using a computer and had a new vision for herself.  Hamdi had always had an interest in information technology, and she was given the opportunity to train at the Cisco Networking Academy.  The center, founded through Students Rebuild by the Bezos Family Foundation and CARE, is the only one that provides this type of training for youth in all of Puntland.

Although it is perceived as a field best suited for males, Hamdi says she is confident that she can compete with young men in the program.  Hamdi believes the Cisco training is helping her acquire the skills she needs to obtain a good job in the IT sector and advance in her chosen career path.  “I am taking this course to get a professional certificate that can help me along with my university degree to get a good job and do better with my life.” During the Cisco training, Hamdi learned networking skills such as how to set up monitoring systems and security via access lists, as well as how to fine-tune routing protocols to meet internal and external customer needs. She looks forward to working for an internet service provider in Puntland.

For girls from a conservative community, education is seen as a waste of a scarce resource – girls are to help with the household chores and then be married off. But education unlocks a girl’s potential and empowers her to contribute to her family, her community and her country.

Reflecting on her experience, Hamdi says, “If I could change the world for the better, I would give every girl the opportunity to learn.”

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. To learn more, visit CARE. CARE partnered with Students Rebuild for the One Million Bones Challenge.