A very special school
Sheikh Secondary School in Somaliland is special for so many reasons. Offering an exceptional level of higher learning, it is first and foremost a beacon of hope in a region of extreme poverty.
The school manages to unite a traditional African Islamic world view with a strong belief in technology, science and industry, and is the first boarding school of its kind to offer girls a higher education on an equal basis with boys. Here, girls can dream of becoming teachers, doctors, architects and engineers. Muna Omer Raabi is one student who has now graduated and says she will be “forever grateful”.
In Somali culture, girls cannot board with boys and need separate housing. Through a lack of suitable accommodation, places for girls are currently more limited than for boys. With the help of generous UK donors, funds are being raised to create extra rooms so that more girls can attend this amazing school.
The school’s success is especially remarkable given the fact that the buildings were destroyed during the Somalian civil war and for many years the site lay abandoned. Its reemergence as a preeminent seat of learning is testimony to the vision and sacrifice of British couple Enid and Dick Eyeington.
Enid and Dick moved from Swaziland, where they were both loved and esteemed, having taught the children of both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. They came to Somaliland in 2002 to rebuild the Sheikh. Tragically, less than a year later, they were murdered by extremists.They were targeted for daring to believe that both girls and boys in Somaliland had the right to a first-class education. Thanks to the constancy of wonderful UK supporters, we are proud to continue the vision of Enid and Dick.
There are still girls who cannot go to the school. Raising more funds will help make that possible. If you can help call us or email info@ soschildren.org
Leaving a legacy in Pakistan
The incredible generosity of UK supporters is transforming the lives of SOS families in Pakistan. Here are just three examples!
One UK couple have given over £250,000 to the Children’s Village at Sialkot. SOS mothers and their 96 children are now living in new homes. The houses also have solar power. This means SOS mothers at Sialkot no longer have to burn wood to heat bath water. Next year, the Village will also celebrate the construction of a nearby secondary school. Not that travelling some distance to school stopped 19-year-old Ali Ashraf (pictured far right) from achieving his goals. In 2005, Ali’s mother was killed in the earthquake which hit Muzzaffarabad. To the pride of the Sialkot Village, this determined teenager is now studying engineering. With the wonderful support of SOS donors, Ali has a bright future ahead.
But it isn’t only large donations that make a difference. UK supporters may remember the tragic story of the British mountaineer and research biologist Ben Cheek, who died during his attempt to climb Shimshal Whitehorn in northern Pakistan in July 2008. Family and friends launched an appeal in Ben’s memory. Many small donations combined through Ben’s JustGiving page are helping to build a new SOS Children’s Village at Rawalakot.
UK donors are also making a difference at Peshawar, the scene of December’s terrible school atrocity. In Peshawar, funds are still needed to build youth and family houses, but a new SOS school is almost complete. As ever, we look forward to providing vulnerable children here with loving homes, and an excellent education.