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Sunday, August 23, 2015

China's aid restores hope for orphanage home in Somalia

A severe famine ravaged Somalia in 2011, wiping out the remaining hope after a decade of conflict that drove families into desperation and consequently death.

MOGADISHU, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- A severe famine ravaged Somalia in 2011, wiping out the remaining hope after a decade of conflict that drove families into desperation and consequently death.

Thousands held on to hope on their way to Mogadishu where they were settled in internally displaced people (IDP) camps and provided with humanitarian aid. However, many of those who arrived had lost some of their family members due to hunger and disease on the way.

While many children found their way into Mogadishu streets, a new challenge was emerging in Mogadishu, the street children. It was also a time when warlords were fighting against each other over control of the city, further exposing these children to all manner of dangers.

But Mogadishu was not lost of good Samaritans. Yusuf Yasin came up with a good idea of setting up an orphanage to protect these children from further harm and more so the fear that they would one day be recruited by armed militias as child soldiers.

Badbado Orphanage Center was born. "We collected children from the streets of the city and others from the regions to save them from an imminent dark future," Yasin told Xinhua during an interview in Mogadishu.

"We had to negotiate our way out through these challenges for the sake of these children whose future lay in our hands. It was the only and most noble thing we could do as the situation was fast running out of hand," said Yasin.

He said getting daily food rations and medical supplies was a big challenge as donor support in the country had virtually been cut off. Even the humanitarian agencies were nowhere to be seen as some left owing to the security situation.

Yasin said the orphanage home managed with meagre resources at its disposal, but the re-opening of the Chinese embassy in Somalia last year was a game changer for them.

"We wrote to them some months ago seeking help for the orphanage and in no time they graciously responded," said Yasin.

The Chinese embassy in Mogadishu led by the Chinese Ambassador to Somalia Wei Hongtian last month donated education facilities including chairs, tables, school backpacks, and blankets among a host of other items.

"Children are tomorrow's generation and our help today is critical towards ensuring their future is secured. We hope this assistance will go a long way in alleviating the challenges the centre has been facing," stated Wei.

For the children in the centre, it was a dream comes true. "My father died in the war and my mother does not have a job. The idea of sitting in a classroom with all these facilities was something unbelievable for me," the 9-year-old Sahnun Abdirazak told Xinhua.

Abdibaasid Abdikarim Mohamed, 11, looks elated as he picks his backpack for lunch, lauding the Chinese for providing assistance to their only home.

"I thank the Chinese people so much for their generosity to us. We had difficulties in our classes since we were sitting on the floor, but now we have desks courtesy of Chinese!" chuckled Mohamed.

"It has been many years of struggle. Having the children sitting and writing from the floor pained me and I always hoped for a day we could have chairs. That day has come, courtesy of the Chinese embassy here," said one of the teachers at the orphanage centre.