Somalia: Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdullahi: “I have a dream to meet the needs of the visually impaired through education”

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Mogadishu – Somalia Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdullahi was born in rural Mudug region, Puntland, Somalia in 1992, with normal vision. The father of one was born into a family of pastoralists. He was taken to the city of Galkayo at the age of five to study at religious (Koranic) and secular schools in 1998.

But after finishing his fourth grade at Salaam Primary and Middle School in 2001, an unfortunate event happened to him. “I suffered from an eye disease and I was immediately taken to the ophthalmologist for treatment,” he says. “The doctor operated on my eyes and I lost my sight.”

The pursuit of education

After losing his sight, Abdullahi fell into depression and thought he could no longer study because at that time in Somalia there was no system for educating the visually impaired. No one understood or cared about their needs.

But his depression and desperation did not last long. Mr Abdullahi returned from the village of Bur-salah to the town of Galkayo and in 2005 joined the Al-Basar Institute for the Blind in Garowe, Puntland.

“I shed tears of joy when I returned to middle school three years later, wearing a student uniform. It was a special day for me, and I shared my joy with my peers,” says Abdullahi.

However, when he started at Omar Samatar High School in 2008, Abdullahi studied with students who were not visually impaired, which he believes had a profound negative impact on his academic life. This was because none of the private high schools had premises that cater for the visually impaired students. There was no Braille and the teachers were not trained in how to teach them or adapt to their needs.

After high school, his quest for higher education led him to Mogadishu.

“I started at Somaville University in Mogadishu in 2014 to study for a bachelor’s degree in international relations. During my university studies, I faced the same challenges as in middle school. My biggest goal was to find teachers who could understand my special needs, because they were not trained to teach students like me.But with the help of some of my colleagues and technology – I would upload teachers’ presentations and lessons in audible format on my phone, have my classmates revise them over and over after each lesson, and would listen to them at home “I overcome the challenges. Fortunately, I graduated and celebrated it with my friends and family in 2018”, he states.

To become a teacher

Because he was taught by teachers who were not visually impaired, Abdullahi said he was facing many problems. For example, he talked about how difficult it was for him to understand a subject like mathematics that was taught by teachers who could not understand his needs. Not seeing the numbers on the board meant challenges that those teachers did not notice.

It made Abdullahi constantly think about becoming a teacher and dealing with the situation of visually impaired people like himself. This led him to start teaching at a center for students with special needs before graduating from high school.

“In 2010, I started working at a center in Galkayo that taught people with special needs such as the visually impaired and deaf. I was hired specifically to be a visionary teacher. I worked there for a year, and it was my first time working as a teacher,” he says. he.

His teaching career continued to grow when he later started working in 2014 at one of the country’s most prominent schools for the visually impaired – the Al-Nur school in Mogadishu.

“I teach subjects like math and Somali language, and I enjoy teaching these subjects and teaching Somali boys and girls, because I know what difficulties I have been through and I do not want them to go through the same trials,” he says. he. and adds, “I have always understood the needs of these students, because I have studied in similar circumstances.”

Mr Abdullahi has a dream of meeting the needs of the visually impaired through education and hopes that his postgraduate education, which he will soon complete, will enable him to pass it on to people with special needs like him.

“I am convinced that the education of people with disabilities can contribute to the development of this country. Given that many people with disabilities like me need the country to do more for us, I am convinced that it will not be in vain to educate and support people with disabilities or lost, ”says Abdullahi.

Awareness and education

Abdullahi emphasizes that there is a great need to raise awareness and educate people about the needs of people with special needs.

“A lot of people think that people with special needs can’t do everything like the rest of society. That’s wrong, and it was not based on reality,” he says. “It even leads parents to think that their children with special needs can not learn. That is not true. It is time for us to face reality. Society must make more efforts to educate the desperate young people who need education and schooling, now more than ever. ”

In addition to becoming a teacher, Abdullahi also dreamed of one day becoming a journalist to fight for the rights of people with special needs – he has also achieved that dream.

“I have worked for several local media including Gooboog FM, Mandeeq FM, Star FM and Rugsan from 2014 to early 2021, I have produced reports and programs that advocate for people with special needs, and have reached the level of program editor,” says the 29 -year-old teacher.

His work in the media has raised awareness of the need to change the view of professionalism for people with special needs.

“I still look forward to working with the media and as a teacher I know that teaching and journalism can go a long way. They are equal and compatible,” he says.

The teacher and journalist also have artistic talent, and have composed songs and poems that are widely used in some of the country’s media.

“I have always loved literature. I am aware of its importance. I have written many poems and songs of consciousness, mostly about people with special needs. I want to make their voices heard, and promote the important role of art in society,” he concludes.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Since 1992, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been celebrated annually on 3 December. The focus of the day aims to promote understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for people with disabilities’ dignity, rights and well-being. It also aims to raise awareness of the benefits that can be achieved by integrating people with disabilities into all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life.

This year’s theme is “Leadership and participation of people with disabilities towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world after COVID-19.” The day emphasizes that the inclusion of disabilities is a very important part of upholding human rights, sustainable development, peace and security.

So far, the global covid-19 crisis has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and shown how frightening the exclusion of people with disabilities is. People with disabilities – one billion people in the world – are one of the most excluded groups on earth and they were hit hardest by the death pandemic, according to the UN.

Source: UNSOM

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