Woman Refugee Helps Refugees Education & Confronting Violence

Women, Teens, Social Responsibility Movies

Woman Refugee Helps Refugees Education & Confronting Violence

She is former refugee from Somalia who has returned home to help other refugees and particularly women/girls to gain education and confront violence and FGM. "Mama Hawa" is this year's Hansen Refugee Award Recipient: This is Mama Hawa, teacher, a former director of education, social worker, a former refugee and now winner of the 2012 Nansen Refugee Award.

The UN Refugee Agency award is an acknowledgement of a life devoted to helping others, particularly Somalia's refugee and displaced women and girls.

SOUNDBITE (English) Mama Hama, Nansen Refugee Award Laureate 2012:
"In my heart always it was some kind of supporting women especially girls. Something I felt that I have to do whatever I can do for supporting women."

Hawa Aden Mohamed or 'Mama Hawa' as she is known, says her inspiration was her father. At a time when girls did not go to school, he insisted that she go.

Her journey had its challenges. In 1991 she became a refugee in Canada. There she worked as a social worker and counsellor but the call of home prevailed. In 1995 she returned to Somalia to start an NGO, but conflict forced her to flee to Nairobi in 1999.

She returned to Puntland, Somalia and opened the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD).

Initially the centre was unpopular as it went against tradition.

Many of the women and girls, she helps are victims of violence. Others have suffered female genital mutilation (FGM).

Ten year old Nafisa was circumcised twice, Mama Hawa came to her help.

SOUNDBITE (Somali) Unidentified ten year old girl, victim of FGM (blurred for her protection):
"I was hurt a lot and I was in pain. If she didn't help me I would be dead. The way she helped me when I was dying fills me with gratitude. I was hurt and in pain. If she had not helped me I would have died."

Here the women find protection, skills and hope. Lives turned around to be lived saved.

GECPD also provides vocational training for young displaced boys in the hope that they will not be lured into crime or war.

Mama Hawa said the key is the one her father gave her so many years ago: education. Without it she says you do not exist.

SOUNDBITE (English) Mama Hama Nansen Refugee Award Laureate 2012:
"If you are illiterate, yes you have a mind. You can talk, you can see what is wrong, you can see what is right and all that but not really at the level where you can equally argue. Where you demand your right.


Language: English

Year of Production: 2012

Length: 3 mins

Country: Somalia


  • Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV-UNHCR)


  • Susan Sacirbey (UNTV-UNHCR)