After 11 years since our graduation from Sheikh Mohamed Moalin Primary and Secondary School in Beledweyne, I spent a memorable day with some of my high school classmates in Mogadishu. We had a lunch and afternoon tea/coffee together at the Peace Garden (Beerta Nabadda) in Mogadishu, a green space that people come for photos, weddings, celebrations and family gatherings.
The most interesting part of our meeting was a brief update about our last 11 years since graduating from high school. The journey for each one of us was different. Some of us migrated to places like Saudi Arabia and South Africa, but returned to the country (for different reasons); others went straight to universities; while some others started in higher education after few years.
Life is full of challenges. We pursued different career paths. From school and university teachers to researchers, government civil servants and businessmen, our experiences and sectors we work in are diverse. We discussed challenges we encountered and that some of the circumstances may push one to a career that is not his/her personal preference.
The date of the meeting was actually a coincidence and not preplanned. July 2020, was 11 years since our high school graduation ceremony. We spent years together and shared a class, but the journey after our high school graduation ceremony for each one of us was distinctive. I vividly remember our last class. Our history and geography teacher Moalin Dirie was there. His farewell remarks included الدنىا تجمع وتفرق (The world brings people together and disperses them). Indeed, the world brought us together in one class, and after our graduation, we rarely saw each other.
The meeting resuscitated our memories. We had a flashback of the good old days at the high school. For me, I spent the most difficult years of my life in Beledweyne. I went to the city to pursue a high school education in mid 2006. The rise of the Islamic Courts Union, the invasion of Ethiopian troops, and the recurrent flooding and the worsening insecurity all happened while I was attending the secondary school. Meeting with some of the students we spent such difficult years with was a great opportunity and resurrected my dormant memory.
The aim of the gathering was not of course coming together and having a lunch jointly. We had a vision to build a foundation that could last for a long time and could tighten our connection and relationship. We agreed on a yearly contribution and elected a committee with defined terms of reference. The main duty of the committee would be convening meetings every four months among a batch five students of Sheikh Mohamed Moalin School and supporting the school in different ways.
All of the students who met except one (the only female in the meeting, Anab) live in Mogadishu. How we could support and help our school was a question that recurred repeatedly in our minds. With the new association, we hope that we will be able to support our school in Beledweyne.
In late 2019, when I visited Sheikh Mohamed Moalin school, I felt that we did not give back to the school and teachers who had worked so hard to teach us well. Giving back to the school, even with something small, will hopefully increase the connection among our cohort of students as well as our bond with the school.
Although we are at the beginning of an effort to give back to our school, the idea of establishing Sheikh Mohamed Moalin School alumni is taking shape. We hope that our coming together will inspire others to do the same and collaborate with us. Together we can do great things.
It was a rare gathering, and I must thank Feysal Mohamed Hashi and Omar Ali Hassan for taking a leading role in bringing together our high school classmates currently living in Mogadishu. Coming together was the beginning, giving back together and keeping the momentum will hopefully follow in due course.