Mogadishu’s 10 year-old teacher
Women and girls sit on the floor of a house in Mogadishu’s northern Daynile district, their hands moving quickly. Brightly coloured balls of wool are scattered around them as they learn how to knit, crochet, and sew dresses, hats, scarves, toys, and home decorations.
Fadumo Sheekh Cali
This is Fadumo Sheekh Cali’s craft school. The main teacher is her 10-year-old granddaughter Ruwaydo Najiib Xasan. She is quite strict and has no qualms about bossing around students four times her age.
Ruwaydo Najiib Xasan
She learned handicraft techniques by watching her grandmother almost as soon as she knew how to walk. Fadumo felt strongly that she should pass down her knowledge to future generations to keep her skills alive. She takes her handicrafts around different cultural fairs in Somalia hoping that people will see the benefit of making clothes for themselves rather than depending on imports.
The women and girls who spend their weekends at the craft school have no problem being taught by a 10-year-old child. They say Ruwaydo is an excellent teacher, making sure they correct their mistakes and learn how to make unique and colourful clothes and other items to brighten up their homes.
Ruwaydo and one of her students
Ruwaydo and her cousin live with their grandmother, whose house doubles up as a shop selling the rainbow-coloured handicrafts they make. The family makes a decent living from the sales. Part of the income pays for Ruwaydo and her cousin to go to school where they learn maths, Somali, English, and the Koran.
Ruwaydo’s dream is to take the skills she learned from her grandmother to a different level, setting up a big crafts school in Mogadishu. “I want to be a great teacher,” she says. “I will do all I can to make sure my grandmother’s skills never die.”
Bilan is Somalia’s first all-women media team. Funded by UNDP and hosted by Dalsan Media Group, Bilan shines a light on the issues women care about and offers a platform for women’s voices.