Sheikh Abdinur is a 50-year-old father of 8 children living in Garowe, Puntland, Somalia. He has been a champion on raising awareness on issues affecting his community members. He spends most of his time developing community attitudes towards gender-based issues. He does this by facilitating training sessions during ‘hope action’ meetings to educate community members on child protection and children rights issues.
Like many other fragile countries, communities in Puntland face challenges such as poor maternal and child health, gender equity, gender-based violence, and child protection issues.
Thanks to World Vision’s Channels of Hope (CoH) initiative, faith leaders and other community leaders are trained to break down walls between different faiths in their own communities to respond to serious issues and promote the well-being of all in the community, especially the most vulnerable.
To help respond to the challenges these community members face, Sheikh Abdinur was among the leaders trained on maternal new-born and child health (MNCH), child protection and gender issues.
“I am happy and grateful that I have learned, being part of this wonderful initiative,” Sheikh Abdinur said. “Now I can tell my community members about the importance of immunization in preventing diseases. This will make a huge difference to the health of the mothers and babies in our communities. Now, the importance of immunization vaccines is one of the topics I enjoy discussing in our community meetings. It’s a vital message in communities like ours, that don’t have a lot of access to health information or health education.
Sheikh Abdinur is also the Deputy Director of Al-Rahma Religious Network, an organisation that does general awareness on healthy parenting practises. The organisation also supports orphans by advocating for their education to enable them to have a better future.
Through the Channels of Hope model, the group of leaders are also enlightened with a deeper understanding on the effects and impact of the challenges that community members face in terms of gender issues, maternal and child health issues, and child protection. These leaders trained in CoH become active participants in their communities and are committed to supporting the most vulnerable in their communities. They mobilise their own congregations and seek to strengthen existing community structures where there is none.
“I have gained more knowledge and skills to help address the issues relating to different topics in the community, through community meetings, dialogues and during Juma congregations in the most populated mosques,” Sheikh said. “Parents, especially mothers, are eager to learn more and always seek information on the advantages of immunization. We have really made huge advancements in our work informing the community about the importance of vaccinations, because there has been a huge increase in the uptake in vaccinations.
“During the training, we decided that it was important for us to address sensitive topics related to female genital mutilation, early/forced marriage and other forms of gender-based violence that has unfortunately taken place in our community. The training equipped us to educate parents, guardians and community members of the negative consequences of these harmful beliefs. We hope that through educating the local and rural communities, that we can put an end to these incredibly damaging practises.”
World Vision’s Channels of Hope programme is more than just training or education. It is a life transformation. Training is designed to inform the mind and motivate a sustained and effective response to significant issues.
Faith leaders are often among the most influential members in a community. Their beliefs and values can inspire entire communities to care for and love one another. This is why World Vision is working with community leaders and leaders of all different faiths to create a better, more peaceful, world.
“I feel blessed to serve my community, addressing harmful community practises, and participating in child protection forums where a lot of discussions takes place.” Sheikh continued. “Now the communities are openly seeking advice and are sharing their stories and experiences. Practises that were once stigmatised and shrouded in secrecy are now spoken about. This is the first step to destigmatising any issue.
Our aim is to keep working until these practices stop. I am sure this approach will help us to reach more people in all the regions of Puntland. The work is difficult but very rewarding - we can see cases related to child protection and gender-based violence in our community have reduced. I am very thankful for the support and help from World Vision. It has really helped in transforming my community.”