Volunteer educational trip to Somaliland

Somaliland is a country recovering from two decades of civil war; this has significantly impacted on the healthcare system and higher education in the country. Education in Somaliland is regarded as a privilege and therefore, it is not something that is taken for granted. Both men and women are equally encouraged to educate themselves and develop their knowledge and understanding in various disciplines including healthcare.

Volunteering here can be rather challenging mainly due to the lack of security. Often, volunteers have to adhere to strict curfew in some regions. I did, however; feel somewhat safe as a Somaliland Diaspora.

I spent three weeks teaching in Hargeisa [Capital] and Borama. I taught sexual health and screening, record keeping and documentation as well as time management. Students found my teaching materials and activities “exciting” and “different” as expressed in feedback forms completed. I tried to engage them using various teaching styles. One of the things I taught students was how to employ critical thinking to their practice. I wanted them to think outside the box and to effectively link theory to practice. I also gave students an insight into Forensic Medicine. This session went down very well. Students were taught how to care for victims of rape and sexual assault, how to assess a victim, what immediate aftercare is needed and the importance of forensic medical examination as part of the evidence gathering process.

Most of the students I taught were women. Somaliland regards education as a right for both the sexes; ‘females have the same chance to gain a place a university as their male counterparts’. The classes I taught were full of bright and enthusiastic young women. These young women were outspoken and keen to make a difference to their communities.

Books2Africa provided essential teaching resources for my voluntary trip. I was given books, a poster and a camcorder to utilise. I made use of all the resources especially the Royal Marsden Manual book. I used this book in the clinical learning environment to support students in developing their practical skills. I wanted to improve standards and the students I taught were more than willing to participate and learn skills to enable this change.

As Books2Africa Somaliland Country Coordinator I hope to provide essential resources and motivate others to educate themselves and their communities in Somaliland.

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