Somalia school kits
Photo courtesy of Lutheran World Federation

Lutheran World Federation, an MCC partner, distributed MCC school kits at Wamo Primary School in Kismayo, Somalia. The recipients are vulnerable, IDP and refugee children who are returning home to Somalia as the Daadab camp in Kenya is being closed in phases.

Many Somali refugee families returning home after years in refugee camps lack basic items, like blankets and school supplies.

This past summer, MCC shipped 10,120 school kits and 2,930 comforters to Somalia, which were distributed by Lutheran World Federation (LWF), an MCC partner, at five schools in Kismayo, the capital of Jubaland State.

Fatumo, left, and Sahro, right, (last names are not used for security reasons) are just a few of the children who received MCC school kits at a distribution in Kismayo, Somalia. Photo courtesy of Lutheran World Federation

This distribution is a response to the increased population in the city. According to Anne Wangari, the Africa Emergency Hub Coordinator for LWF who is overseeing the distribution in Kismayo, waves of Somali refugees fled to neighboring Kenya over the last 25 years in response to violence at the hands of the Islamic militant group al-Shabaab, as well as political instability and drought.

However, the Kenyan government claimed some al-Shabaab militants hid in refugee camps on the border and carried out attacks in Kenya, prompting the government to shut down one of the camps.

Around 2012, the Jubaland regional government re-established control over Kismayo, one of Somalia’s largest cities and an important Indian Ocean port. Especially over the last two years, thousands of refugees have been able to return home as access to basic services, including education, improved.

But many returnees and internally displaced people lack the everyday necessities, including school supplies. Some children’s families never left Kismayo, but also face poverty and marginalization.

“Some kids were coming to school with nothing,” Wangari says. “They’re coming to school to learn to read and write and practice drawing. When a child has nothing to draw with and nothing to write on, that child cannot learn,” she says.

That’s why MCC’s shipment is so important, she says.

Lutheran World Federation (LWF), an MCC partner, distributed MCC school kits at Wamo Primary School in Kismayo, Somalia. During the meeting, LWF staff encouraged parents to participate in their children’s education. Later on, MCC comforters were also distributed to parents.Photo courtesy of Lutheran World Federation

In addition to providing school kits, LWF is using MCC comforters to encourage parents to be active in their children’s education.

“When we bring them together in the school, we talk to them about the role of parents in education. How do they ensure that a child is able to learn? How can they support the teacher in their work? How do they support the children in their work? Before they go home we give them a blanket to show them how important it is for them to support the children’s education,” Wangari says.

In addition to the school kits and comforters, LWF also pays five teachers’ salaries and provides one hot meal per day and clean water to students in five public schools. LWF also is addressing sanitation issues in the schools by providing hand wash stations.

As access to education improves, Wangari says LWF hopes to improve the quality of education in Kismayo with MCC’s help.

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