Many Somalis ask what inspired sahnun and me
We like to respond by saying it is your parents and their legacy
You see? Chances are you came from a Somali refugee
Who left back in the 80’s or 90’s
Left everything they got, to provide a better life for you and the rest of your family
But the thing is when they left to save you? They left behind an entire generation of young Somalis
Somalis who would have been sharing poetry here today about their country
But instead of talking about their country like you and me they live through it
In Somalia there is no figurative language, what we think our hyperboles are a reality
And that’s what troubled sahnun and me
How kids our age do not have the same opportunities
So to solve this we follow in your parents foot steps
They gave up their lives in order to save you
And by saving you, in a sense they are saving the Somali youth
And that is what WakeUpSomalia is trying to do
Today I ask you “walaalo” to take a moment and close your eyes.
Imagine being in our great nation, yourself watching the beautiful sunrise.
You begin to search for Muqdishu, but you’re stopped by a checkpoint
It’s only then that you realize that the soldier threatening you, is a young boy
You pay the shillings, step in the city, to see what’s going on
Unfortunately all you can hear are the screams of soldiers dying, laid down on the bare lawn
You realize no one here is smiling, unless they’re high on Khat
You yourself stop smiling in fear, because the only music allowed now is gun shots
You see now, more than ever, that the tragedy continues on
There is no pause rewind or fast forward, they WILL suffer on
But now open your eyes, look around and see your brothers and sisters here today
And know that it’s only our generation, the youth, the Diaspora, the Somali’s, who can create a bright future for our people someday.
But if we want a bright future we must understand Alqoon laaan wa iftiin laaan
Which means without education there is no light
Without education our people will forever live in the night… or shall I say sleep
That explains why for 20 years we have yet to wake up from a sleep that is very deep
Sahnun and I realized In order to see the light we must wake up Somalia with the power of education
And then there is no question that we will be a bright nation
Now the question is how?
What if we were to tell you we had to candle to make our people see
We formulated a plan to wake up Somalia with the power of technology
Have you ever heard of the one laptop can save a child campaign
Well ours is one laptop and one projector could save a community. let me explain
Now imagine a classroom no textbooks, I know. it sounds insane
Instead of providing costly textbook for every student, every subject, every year
We would provide a virtual curriculum which will be the 21st century Somali educational frontier
And in order to access it you will need a labtop, and to teach a large body of students you will simply need a projector
Now with this new system of learning that we are proposing we can truly change Somalia’s education sector
Although education may seem like enough
What WakeUpSomalia wants is entire communities to RISE up from the muck
This is why the teachers will be PAID to teach
It’s why the principal will be PAID to lead
It’s why the women will find a new found income
Through our Somali Women’s Cooking Association
All these things can stimulate small economies
Because the jobs we provide are aimed to solely to HELP the needy
But WAIT, lets not forget for one second, about the children
With the American Education Development organization, we’ve created the Somali Studnets mentoring program
Now this all may seem nearly impossible to do
But what is impossible if doing the possible has absolutely no use.
We’re confident, insha’allah, with our project and subprojects combined
Will one day, Insha’allah, allow the whole of Somalia to Shine
Imagine the impact we can have on a community
With a universal virtual curriculum one can easily set up a school very cost efficiently
and that school will not just be a school, it will be the mark of unity
People from all tribes will all have the same equal opportunity
With one laptop and one projector we can educate a class of at least 40
With one laptop and one projector we can hold health seminars for the unhealthy
With one laptop and one projector we can provide life lessons for the needy
The potential of a virtual curriculum is endless
Its impact and use will be timeless
Courses would range from academics to preventing epidemics
We would truly be reviving communities
We can guarantee you with innovation and technology
we can make education accessible easily
Now, I ask you, again please close your eyes and open your ears
I want you to visualize and picture Somalia in 20 years
Is it a country where pirates no longer pillage the seas?
Or is it a healthy place, where people don’t die from preventable disease?
Is it a nation where people of all tribes stand united?
And people live together, play together and eat together with no violence?
Do you see a country, where our political candidates are elected democratically
Where elections don’t result in civil war and innocent civilian casualties
Now can you see the beaches, the bananas and mango trees growing once again freely?
With a generation of educated Somali’s, sitting under their shade, and once again loving their country?
Now open your eyes and just know that what I’ve just said is WakeUpSomalia’s vision
Insha’Allah, all of us in this room, in 20 years, will be able to live it.
We were talking about 20 years from now, lets take a step back and rewind
To the point where our Awoowos were on the front line
Fighting for freedom, because that was their shrine
There work is not done, we are still not free, there work needs to be refined
or else it will go to waste and somalia will never be able to shine
They use to throw rocks, but you can be a freedom fighter too by just donating your time
And that’s what sahnun and I are trying do,
continue the works of your Awoowos, adders, and ayyeyos too.
But let me be honest with you
We cant do it alone
We seek the honor to be blessed with new volunteers and will welcome you all with GREAT hospitality
Because for 1 year and a half, our organization has been worked by only 3 young Somali’s
It wasn’t until this summer that we’ve expanded with a few new dedicated volunteers
And this is the reason, why we’re on stage, to take this unique opportunity
To share our message with this crowd of how YOU can help us with our charity
We need Somali translators, volunteers and LEADERS for our organization
People who share our BELIEFS, have FAITH in this project and maintain a TREMENDOUS compassion
And so in final, before or after we leave each other today and you proceed out the door
Feel free to talk to us, approach us or learn more at www.wakeupsomalia.org
Bashir Warsame and Sahnun Mohamud
Copyright © 2010