Before starting this piece about Somalis, I would like to challenge you to keep an open mind. Consider what it would be like if you lived with circumstances such as Somalis do.
Fallaadhi gilgilasho kaagama go’do: The arrow will not fall out of your body, however hard you may shake (i.e. no excuse will help you if you have been exposed).
What do you think when you hear the word Somalia? Do you think about the pirates, Black Hawk Down, or a land wracked with modern-day famines? Or do the camels, white sand, and two thousand miles of coastline come to mind? Most likely, you may have limited knowledge of the country and its people due to its rather obscure position on the world stage. In this article, I hope to provide some information about Somalis and share how GoTEN will work with them in 2023.
The first thing to know above all else regarding Somalis is this: to be Somali is to be Muslim. 99.9% of the country follows Islam. This goes into all areas of society and particularly into education. For hundreds of years, children have been attending Madrassas or Islamic schools. Here, they are taught the Qur’an and work to memorize it in its entirety. Which many do by the time they graduate. On the other hand, formal education is more lacking. There is only a small minority of students that graduate from primary school, which is around 18%. The Borgen Project says illiteracy could be upwards of 60%.
Beyond education, the challenges that Somalis face are seemingly endless. In Somalia, if a drought doesn’t harm a person’s chance at survival then civil war, disease, lack of healthcare, and drastic gender inequality will.
Somalis in the United States do not face the same hardships. However, many carry the burden of needing to send money for family and friends to buy food in Somalia. Picture this scenario, you work 50 hours a week at a minimum wage job. On top of having to pay for housing and food for your immediate family that has survived long enough to make it to the U.S., you now also have family members constantly begging you for a percentage of your already very limited income. The fact of the matter is – without you they will starve. What would you do and how would you handle the pressure? These questions are present in many Somalis as they live out their daily lives.
Far beyond physical needs lies a great spiritual need. One of the most daunting challenges that face the Somali people is the lack of peace that comes only from Christ. The World Watch List has deemed Somalia to be extremely difficult to be a Christian and there are an estimated several hundred Christians in the whole people group of 16.5 million people – Open Doors USA.
Given all this information, I hope that you were able to get a snapshot of these people. Rather than sink into hopelessness we have the only true hope available to us, and that is Christ Jesus. We expect progress to be slow but envision that Jesus will become more well known in the Somali community through GoTEN and our partners. I would like to end with another Somali proverb.
Lax dhukani abaar moog: The short-eared sheep does not hear the complaints about the drought (it forgets about the sufferings of others once it is full).
Will we let our full stomachs deafen us to the cries of others, or will we be a part of the solution? Now that we know of their great need, let us act. Please consider joining the ministry by either praying, giving, or volunteering with us.