UNDP Scholarships for Needy Somali Girls
Hamdi’s spark is evident in her eyes and you can see her determination when she speaks. She is a recent recipient of a UNDP scholarship which will support her to study Economics at Puntland State University. Born and brought up in Garowe, 21 year old Hamdi is the fifth born out of 15 children. Her father, who was the primary breadwinner, died when she was 15 and her family could no longer afford to keep her in school. Hamdi convinced her cousin to pay her school fees and she graduated against all odds with a B+ in science.
- A big and positive hope for Puntland, meet Hamdi a University Business student under the scholarship of UNDP
Despite knowing that she didn’t have money for tuition fees, she scraped together $20 to cover the registration fee for university, and enrolled. Hamdi began attending classes, but it wasn’t long before the university started demanding tuition fees. “They would come into the classroom and yell, naming those students that hadn’t paid – and then they would kick them out.” She approached the Ministry of Education (MoE) and learnt about university scholarships for young women. Hamdi is now one of 30 scholarship recipients supported by UNDP in partnership with the MoE across Puntland. The scholarships not only aim to provide the tuition and other expenses required for a four-year programme of study, but will also support the recipients to fulfil their leadership ambitions through training, mentorships, networking opportunities and career development counselling.
Because her own problems are related to financial hardship, Hamdi chose to study business because she wants to understand the root causes of poverty, with the goal of helping her community. She says, “there are ‘bad’ economics that keep people in poverty, and I want to be able to help them.” Hamdi hopes to work in the economics departments of one of the ministries in Puntland, to be able to care for her family, and also the wider community.
Hamdi knows that it is women that often bear the brunt of hardship in Somalia. She has seen her mother struggle to provide for her 15 children. Hamdi thinks that if she was educated her mother would have been in a better position to provide for her family. “The biggest problem in Somalia is conflict, fighting and guns being used to solve problems”, she says.“If women were educated, mothers would raise boys differently – to be intelligent, and not to fight.” She knows many girls like her who want to study but cannot afford it and she hopes that there can be more opportunities for them. She dreams of setting up a fund to help girls in similar situations, and hopes that she can inform girls about opportunities and fundraise on their behalf. Hamdi has nine sisters – the younger ones are currently in primary school, but the older ones never studied beyond primary and don’t have jobs. She hopes that the younger ones don’t end up having to leave school early.
Hamdi has, in her own words, “a big and positive hope for Puntland” – she hopes that thousands of students graduate from university and work towards making the lives of women better. She says that while she is studying at PSU she will encourage her female classmates not to drop out when they get married – they have already come such a long way.