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Nov 11, 2019
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Shuttered dreams

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Until when he turned 10, Hasaan Ali had ambitions in life. He had dreams to impact and change the world to be a better place. He had lost his mother at birth when she was giving birth to him. She suffered severe blood loss due to lack of qualified doctors to attend to her. Hassan vowed to be a doctor in his adulthood to take care of the sick, to give them another chance in life to impact change. “All I wanted was to be happy in life.” He spoke amidst sobs lying helplessly on a hospital bed in Dhobely where he was nursing his wounds.
Hasaan had forcefully been recruited by the Al Shabaab militias when he was eleven years old to join the foot soldiers to fight for the militias group. Although it was against will, he was forced to accept the reality and heed the orders from his seniors. “We were exposed to extreme military training and no one cared that we were children. Some of my best friends died during training. There was no time to rest or play, it was all about training.” Hasaan’s dream of becoming a doctor would never see the light of the day as he lays in bed as a double amputee and losing one of his eyes after he was injured by AMISIOM forces during one of the battles they faced as an Al Shabaab fighter. He was saved by the KDF forces after they realized he was a child soldier fighting for Al Shabaab.
The situation is not any better for Mariam (Not her real name). Having been brought up from a humble background, Mariam wanted to change the lives of her parents. At age 8, she was the brightest of her class and her star shined from horizon to horizon. Her school was unfortunately attacked in 2015 by the Al Shabaab militias who destroyed the school completely killing dozens of pupils and kidnapped several. Mariam was lucky to have survived the ordeal but unlucky to be one of the girls who were kidnapped.
“ I was raped several times when I was just 9 years old.” She explains in Somali. “I pleaded with them to save me but no one sympathized with me. The first day I thought they were going to kill me. After that, it was a daily routine.”
At age 13, Mariam was already a mother. She was a sex slave for four years before she was allowed to bear children. She lost her self-esteem, she became so pessimistic in life and lost all hope of becoming anything substantial in life. She managed to escape from the jaws of Al Shabaab and now recuperating in a rehabilitation center in Kenya. Having lost links with her family, Mariam said she has nowhere to go. Her family is not sure whether she is still alive or she was killed during the attack.
Fauziah had a strong urge to become a politician in life. She had seen how the women were being undermined by their male counterparts in Somalia. Women had no place in society. Fauziah in her early teens decided that one day she will give women a voice; identity in the society. While in school she started a girls club christened ‘Girl Child Empowerment’ (GCE). Fauziah realized that the only way she could break this culture was becoming a very powerful woman in the society; an opinion leader. Being a politician could give her powers to protect her mother from the abuse she was getting from her father. She wanted to save women.
Little did the 15 years old beautiful lass knew that Al Shabaab had a different plan for her. The plan was not only to kill her dreams but to kill her too. Al Shabaab attacked her village in Jamene south of Jilib and shot her twice. Her family was not lucky either; her loving mother was shot twice and unfortunately, she did not survive. Fauziah was rescued by the AMISOM troops who rushed her to hospital. A bullet had launched in her skull damaging 20% of her brains. She lost her sight, speech and she was paralyzed. Fauziah although survived the deadly attack, she spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair in a children’s home.
Every young child wants to grow and have a positive change to the world. They have dreams and aspirations that need our support to be realized. Al Shabaab, on the other hand, are there to destroy these dreams, to kill the future generation, tomorrow’s leaders. It will take each individual effort to win over terrorism. Protect your child from radicalization and extremism.

Article Categories:
Al Shabaab
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