Strong for Somalia


Jutting out into the Indian Ocean, in the ancient times Somalia had the international reputation of being a one-stop port for commerce. Sadly Somalia is nowadays known for the recurring humanitarian crises and the civil war that broke out in 1991 which has affected countless families including Abdul’s.

Abdul was born in Mogadishu in the south of Somalia, also known as the White Pearl of the Indian Ocean, one year before the outbreak of the war. Although he left his country at a very young age, the thought of Somalia brings back beautiful memories of his childhood and his happy family and community life. “Tribalism is a very big topic in Somalia. We can talk to someone from a different tribe but we are always conscious of our differences and we make sure that we don’t encroach upon their groups. A common social practice in Somalia is to gather and talk of many topics such as sports and other tribes”. For a better picture of this tribal mosaic, Somalia is the land of many clans. There are five mains clans (Darod, Dir, Hawiye, Isaaq and Rahanweyn) which are divided into numerous sub-clans. Abdul is a Majerteen and his tribe falls into the Darod clan. Abdul shares an interesting point about Somalia with Islam being the distinguishing denominator from other countries in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea). Islam is the main religion and unifies all Somali groups. “We may disagree in many matters but at the end of the day, we all believe in one god and the same principles”.

In 1991 tribalism and tensions among the various Somali peoples became more intense causing his family to flee to Saudi Arabia where they still reside. Alas, Abdul took another route, to New Zealand at the age of 4 – where his uncle was based – because a birth malformation on his legs required special medical assistance. There he grew up and when he reached 10 years of age, doctors advised that they couldn’t undertake such a delicate operation and his last resort was to come to Australia. During his teenage years, Abdul went through a series of operations over 4 years. Thankfully he could finally walk and enjoy a better life. Now 21 years old, he lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne but he has never forgotten his parents and siblings back in Saudi Arabia.

Abdul Photo

© Marion Cabanes – 06/06/2013

The description of his life portrays Abdul as a very brave young man. He overtly says that “it was very hard to leave my family at an age when you most need them. From Somalia to Saudi Arabia, from Saudi Arabia to New Zealand and to Australia, I already had too many start-overs in my first 20 years”. If you were Somali and planning to settle in Australia, Abdul advises that “it is not easy to start over a new life in a different country. At the beginning it’s always a struggle to find a place, friends and it takes some time to make this new country your home”.

Although Abdul left Somalia at a very young age, he still comfortably speaks his mother tongue – Somali –  and he feels a lot of affection for his native country. Deep in his heart and in his daily Melbourne life, his thoughts are with his family with whom he communicates on a  regular basis. His love for his mother who couldn’t be close to him for many years is also the same love that he expresses for his mother land. He is able to share an interesting cultural insight of Somalia because his mother has described and reminded him of their life back in Somalia.

Today completing a Community Services Certificate III at Victoria University, Abdul is ambitious to become a Psychologist or Counsellor. He wishes to help young people suffering mental health problems, “I have been through depression in my teenage years after my operation, I believe I can understand and help young people”.

Abdul’s unique course of life from a family living barely above the poverty line has made him a strong and positive person ready to assist those in need. He has hope that one day peace will be back in Somalia, and he and his family will once again be reunited.

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