“I don’t know how long I will live, but as long as I am here I want to plant seeds.”
– Abdi Maawiye/ In Country Director E4Change
The Kelafo region is located in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. This area was extremely under-serviced for many years (no schools, no hospitals, etc.) until a dispute with Somalia was settled and the land became part of Ethiopia. At this point, the government built some schools in the area but not nearly enough to accommodate all of the school-aged children. In Abdi’s community, they built one school and families were told to choose 2 of their children to attend because there wasn’t enough room for all of the children. Out of 10 siblings, Abdi and one of his younger brothers were chosen as the lucky two that would go to school.
Abdi did well academically, but the local school only went to Grade 6 and there were no middle schools in the area. To complete grades 7 and 8, he had to attend a school that was roughly 200km away from his home and live away from his family in a boarding house. Being apart from his family was difficult for Abdi but he persevered and graduated. To complete secondary school he had to move even farther away. With his high school located over 600km away from home, he rarely got to see his family during his teenage years. There wasn’t enough money to pay for schooling, shelter and food so most days Abdi and his brother went without lunch.
Abdi graduated from high school and then moved to Somalia for his post-secondary studies because of conflict in Ethiopia. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Somalia, he earned a scholarship to St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia to work on a post-graduate degree. But he didn’t stop there. Abdi went on to complete his Master of Social Work at Wilfred Laurier University and then settled himself and his family in Waterloo. But ever since coming to Canada, Abdi has been thinking about his hometown and wondering how he could help them.