Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Appeal For Books

For the past few years Wycombe LM have been supporting HiCEP (Hiran Community Education Project) which operates in Somalia. This small charity was started by Daud Ali, the brother-in-law of our Friend, Norma Straiton. Although Daud lived in the UK for most of his adult life he longed to do what he could to help the people in Somalia where he had been born and raised. In 1998 he gathered a group of supporters to work with him to do whatever they could to advance the provision of education in Somalia. In the following years despite prevailing insecurity Hiran Public Library was established in purpose built premises in his home town of Beled Weyne.

In 2004 Daud retired from his work as an Education Psychologist in Birmingham. During visits to Somalia he ran English proficiency classes for adults and established the English School for primary aged children. At the time of his death the school was providing education to over 100 children. He organised the purchase of a plot of land on the outskirts of Beled Weyne and during 2008 he supervised the construction of new school premises. Sadly those buildings have stood empty since then and the school ceased to function because Daud and the 3 other teachers were murdered. In 2010 there were further attacks on those who were guarding the new school premises and running the library. It was clear that it was not safe for anyone associated with HiCEP to remain in Beled Weyne.

Despite being unable to operate in the Hiran Region, ways were found to take the work forward in Northern Somalia where the security situation was much better. Between 2008 and 2014 HiCEP sponsored 5 people from the Hiran Region to study at Amoud University and complete a 2-year teacher training course. In 2011 a library was opened in Hargeisa which is the administrative capital of northern Somalia. The library provides a much needed service to the local people providing books free of charge. It is open 6 days a week and is particularly popular with students as it provides books to help them with their studies.

In January 2012 a new school opened in Hargeisa. It is called the Rehana Hersi Ahmed School; being named after the young British teacher who was killed alongside Daud. Rehana had a heart for the underprivileged so she would be pleased to know that the school which bears her name serves children from poor families. The school provides primary education for 72 youngsters. Most of their families are described as 'internally displaced people' or IDPs – families who have been displaced by years of conflict.

The insurgent group whose members murdered Daud and his colleagues and many others thereafter has been steadily losing ground. The security situation has improved sufficiently for HiCEP to begin to plan to re-establish their work in Beled Weyne. The hope is that, starting in 2017, the premises of Hiran Public Library will be repaired, refurbished and restocked. Their appeal is for books. The following list provides some guidance as to the types of books which are most likely to prove useful but it is not exhaustive:

·                     All kinds of factual books such as school text books. [Maths and science books are the least ‘culture bound’ but books on all subjects help to broaden readers’ horizons.]
·                     Books on English grammar.
·                     Easy reading books to help with mastering English.
·                     Dictionaries.
·                     Up to date atlases.
·                     Medical text books [in this case books which are regarded as ‘out of date’ in the UK are still useful as medical practitioners do not have access to all the modern technology which are to be found in UK hospitals].
·                     Individual reference books.
·                     Sets of encyclopaedias for children.

 [A set of the 2002 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and one of the 2008 edition of the World Book Encyclopaedia have already been donated.]

If you have books to donate please email Wycombe Friends as soon as possible (subject line: Book Appeal), and we will arrange for collection and storage. Arrangements will then be made for them to be transported to Somalia.

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