What does getting an education mean to you?
For some, an education represents the road map to becoming a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. For others, getting an education means going to school with your peers, learning math equations and reciting the alphabet. And although hundreds of thousands students associate an education with gym class or recess, for millions of others around the world, getting an education is the difference between life or death.
Cue the Somali Education Fund. Inaugural winners of our #WingdSolve campaign, the Somali Education Fund (SEF) is an organization of Somali-Canadian students at Carleton University who want to give back to their community and their families in Somalia. The SEF team want to pass on the gift of knowledge to their community in Somalia. Therefore, SEF is determined to achieve a very ambitious goal: sponsor 10 disadvantages students between the ages of 5 and 9, through elementary until the end of secondary school.
Asma Hassan identified a problem in her community and pitched her solution, SEF, an organization by students helping students. “Growing up, my family used to give back to our families and relatives in Somalia,” she says, “so I always had a strong sense of giving back to my community. I always hoped that I would, someday, be able to do something later on in life to help my family in Somalia the way that they helped me. I didn’t want to wait 20 or 30 years to actually benefit people though, so I started researching ways to make a difference right now.”
And a difference she made. After suggesting the idea to her friends, her peers also agreed that wanted to give back to their community in Somalia too. Afterwards, their dynamic team brainstormed the most effective way to help Somalis. The result was a plan to pay for tuition and academic fees for 10 children who are in a financially vulnerable position. The SEF, with the help of their partner school in Mogodishu (Somalia’s capital), found 10 students whom one or both of their parents have passed away. According to Asma, these children are being cared for by extended family members who are “raising several other kids at the same time, so you can imagine how resources are stretched way too thin in these families.”
SEF benefits from the tireless support of Wingd, the Somali-Canadian community in Ottawa, and the Carleton Muslim Student’s Association. Since it’s conception in November 2016, SEF has raised $12,000 of the $12,700 needed to sponsor these 10 children for the start of the academic school year in September 2017. “We fundraise in our local community” Asma tells me, “we hold events, we have monthly bake sales, and have even adopted an online donation system.”
“Our parent’s all left because of the civil war, so we are the generation growing up abroad. We want to give back to our parent’s generation and expand our objectives to more than 10 students.” SEF is truly committed to changing the world through education. Their ambition to improve the quality of life by for Somali children by growing their initiative beyond these 10 kids. In fact, SEF’s goal is to reach out to Somali diasporas all over the world and encourage other communities to sponsor 10 children each. As such, the number of students receiving an education in Somalia will be multiplied! Having the opportunity to go to school could, in all honesty, be the difference between life or death. Knowledge is contagious. Going to school and getting an education represents not only an investment for the individual, but also the greater Somali community who benefits from a more informed and knowledgeable population.
In November, Asma took a chance on her dreams and shared her vision for the Somali Education Fund. Today, SEF is just $600 shy of sponsoring 10 children; children who may otherwise not have access to an education. Asma now encourages others to summon the courage and reach for the stars. “Don’t think that your idea or vision is too far fetched. Don’t think it’s impossible, because that’s what kept me from doing this for the longest time, until one day I thought to myself, why not now? If you believe in your dream, then other people will believe in it too.”
#WingdSolve believes in Asma’s dream. If you also believe in Asma’s dream and want to make a donation to the Somali Education Fund, click here.
To learn more and view SEF’s submission video, click here.