Sahro Adan Mohamed, 44, can now use her mobile phone, search for names in her phone contacts, and read SMS texts without any help.
For as long as she can remember, Sahro has relied on her children to help her use her phone, but now she feels liberated as a result of participating in an adult literacy programme.
Around 120 women from various IDP camps in the Somali capital Mogadishu have enrolled in the literacy classes being offered since March at Mohamud Mire school in Waberi district.
“We have learnt our A, B, Cs. We learnt to read and write Somali for the first time! Before this, I wasn’t able to use my phone,” Sahro told Radio Ergo. “I learnt to search for the names on my phone, I couldn’t do that before, I only knew how to answer the phone, but now I can easily use my phone.”
As the sole breadwinner for her five children, however, Sahrois not able to attend classes as often as she would like.
Sahro’s husband ceased support for the family leaving her to earn what she can, doing laundry for better-off households in the city.
The classes are free, and the school also offers free education to Sahro’s children. Her son, Mohamed Hassan Ali, who is in class five at the school, is happy that his mother can now read and write.
“My mother goes to school at 1 pm. I am happy to see my mother reading and writing. Before she used to ask for help when she wanted to call someone but now he can use the phone on her own,” he said.
Amina Adan Shegow, a drought-displaced agro-pastoralist from Lower Shabelle, said the classes had opened up a new future for her. She joined two months ago after being convinced by one of the teachers to start the studies.
“I know it’s not too late to start so I want to continue studying as long as I can. I am going to the same school as my two daughters!” Amina commented.
Sahro Jam’a Hassan, one of the teachers, believes education will change these women’s lives. They learn reading and writing in Somali and mathematics and the school is planning to offer Arabic.
“We have divided the classes into full and part-time students because these parents can’t be available all the time. The school is free both for adult literacy classes and for the children,” said Sahro.
The school is supported by the ministry of education and the international NGO, Save the Children. It provides pens and books.