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Positive attitude and high self esteem make you a successful warrior


“If you have a goal to reach you should try to ignore what others have to say about you or your clan. If you work hard and are patient, nothing will stop you from realizing your dreams and desires.” Farhia Hersi – councilor in Galkaio, Somalia.

Farhia Hersi – a single mother of nine kids (seven daughters and two sons) is from "Madhiban”, one of the traditionally marginalized groups in Somalia. Due to her determined struggle, she can be a role model to many women around the world who want to be successful.

Two years after her high school graduation, Hersi got a scholarship in 1987 and went to Sa’udi Arabia to study nursing and later worked as a nurse in some clinics and hospitals there. In 2000, she decided to return to Somalia as she was having family problems which ended in a divorce. Going back was not that easy as she was a single mother, having to raise her kids all alone. Further, she had no financial support from anyone else.

Hersi joined Galkaio Education Center for Peace and Development based in Galkaio, Somalia as a teacher in 2001 and later became one of the supervisors. She also underwent training on women’s empowerment from the center which helped her overcome her barriers.

Somalia is a male dominated society which believes that women are supposed to be at home and cannot participate outside activities. As she describes the difficulties she faces everyday while performing her duties as a councilor or social worker Hersi says: “We have a complex culture which believes that women cannot represent the clan. But we have to struggle and I have to bear whatever men say. Being a councilor I am representing the rest of the community and especially women".

"All women everywhere in this world share one common thing and it is that they have been considered as subordinates. Men should encourage and participate in women’s empowerment and consider them as their other half.”

When one of her daughters once tried to drop out from school because of the other students’ ill-treatment of her clan, Hersi told her: “Wherever you go you still belong to your clan. There is only one way you can defeat the students whenever they start talking badly about your clan. Tell them that you all belong to different clans and no one is superior to the other except for those who fully obey their Lord and will be rewarded thereafter. If they want to criticize you as being dull or ugly, well, let us see if you are. Convey to your detractors that you are proud to be from your clan”. Now the daughter is in the twelfth grade.

There are some horrific traditional practices within the Somali community where by there is no intermarriage between Madhiban and the other clans. Owing to the traditional isolation of Madhiban people, Hersi founded a Minority Center in 2005 based in Galkaio. It provides free education for internally displaced persons, marginalized people and other vulnerable persons. The center offers primary classes in the morning and adult classes in the afternoon. She invited educated persons from this clan regardless of gender or age to teach at the school and be role models to the young generation.

Hersi believes that raising awareness in the community about equality through the media and training will help eliminate the stigma related to Madhiban clan. “It is just because of ignorance about the community’s equality why most clans constantly dishonor Madhiban people. Otherwise, each clan will consider the rest as equal members of the community.”

Hersi is the CEO of Women and Child Development Organization which she established in 2003 in Galkaio. It advocates for children, internally displaced persons, marginalized groups and all vulnerable people. It also raises awareness about sexual and gender based violence and all kinds of violence against women. She is a member and co-founder of Mudug Child Protection Network based in Galkaio from 2004. It advocates for children’s rights and their education and development. Hersi is also the chairperson of Mudug Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Network based in Galkaio since 2009. It builds awareness about human rights violation and abuse of power. She is also a member of many other networks.

Hersi was a councilor at district level in Goldogob, Somalia from April 2008 to August 2009. At present she has reached Mudug’s regional level. She is a member of Galkaio’s city council permanent committee.

Hersi has two plans for the Galkaio community. One is to establish a nursery school as there are no such schools in Galkaio. The other is to start a large beauty salon for young girls from both the host community and migrants from southern and central Somalia.

“I want to establish a nursery school for children between three to five years whose parents go to work. They grow up as if they are street children who never received parental care".

"Having such schools will let them grow up while they are educated, have received parental care and know how to live with the rest of the community. Their mothers will not worry about leaving their kids behind. And the children will enjoy the company of their teachers and peers”.

She is also planning to open a large beauty center to train and employ young girls including those who got married at an early age and have been divorced, widowed or those whose husbands have left them and have nowhere else to go.

“These girls face many problems as they do not have anyone to take care of them. They might become sex workers because of the odd jobs and the difficult times they face.

Hersi believes that commitment and a positive attitude helps you reach your goals.

“I have faced many problems and had so many barriers to overcome but if I quit who will be the role model for our young generations?” she asks.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.



Sarvina's picture


Hi Ruun,

Wow...your profile is much interesting. I do love reading it. After read this, I get your feeling how Hersi inspires you..



Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

Ruun Abdi's picture

Thanks Hany

Yeah actually although i didnt know all this info from her i used to admire her all the time... This was a great opportunity that VOF gave me to know her more and more.


Farona's picture

Congratulations !

I love this piece. Thank you for profiling Harsi ! she's Warrior,indeed....
I am amazed by her determination.
I can't seem to forget that she studied here in SA !

Ruun Abdi's picture

Thanks Hany

Thanks alot swirrry i wouldnt have done it without your support am so grateful for having such a wonderful and supportive sisters, plus an amazing mentor and midwife... She is one of a kind and everytime i look at her she inspires me and i admire her and her commitment and hard work.
She told me she went to a nursing collage in SA i dont exactly remember the name but i think she said it was "Machad Al-tamriin" or something like that, she even gave me the street name but since i have never been there i couldnt recall it, bydeway i will ask her to introduce you or at least ask her email so that you get to know eachother better.

Lots of love.

Farona's picture

Aww...I could sens how much

Aww...I could sens how much you admire her in your piece ;- )

She's very persistent and graceful, just like Dr. Chaman !

Oh she went to that college, nice ! - sure sis I would love to get acquainted with her.

Tell her a sis from SA admires her work !

Good luck with your next assignment - I try to start my next assignment soon ! and post a draft, I hope this time i will get everything done on time....will chat soon !

Ruun Abdi's picture

Of course i will tell her

Of course i will tell her about you.

Best of luck to you too dear, i too will try starting it early rather than the last assignment, cant wait to see you online...

Peace and love.

Farona's picture

I guess I posted twice

I guess I posted twice mistakenly, I wish there was a delete button !

Ruun Abdi's picture

Is ok dear but actually you

Is ok dear but actually you just posted it only once... i also looked that delete button sometimes because of my net problems i post it twice but its not i guess.

All the best hany

vivian's picture

Your piece turned out great.

Your piece turned out great. You write well. Well done and keep it up


''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Ruun Abdi's picture

Thank you so much dear....

Thank you so much dear.... All the best for all of us.

warmest regards.


aimeeknight's picture

What an amazing women, you

What an amazing women, you did a beautiful job of telling her story!

"One shoe can change a life" ~ Cinderella

Ruun Abdi's picture

Thank you so much dear... she

Thank you so much dear... she is a wonderful woman indeed and everybody admires her all the time.

Warmest regards.

Mursal Hamraz's picture


Dear Abdi,

Your piece of writing is perfect and very informative. I am really happy to learn about women activists through the strong voices of the VOF fellows. I consider Hersi as a point of proud for her clan. I agree that there are lots of ethnical, racial, gender, and class-based issues surrounding us nowadays, but as I have learned from Hersi's strong voice, we should always challenge and find solutions rather than sitting and acknowledging the false claims of others about either us, our existence, or our clan. This is the only way that people will definitely understand about their false thinking. She will exactly change this thought in future, I am sure. Thank you so much for sharing her story and her strong voice through your most excellent voice.

My best wishes for you,


Ruun Abdi's picture

Thank you so much dear for

Thank you so much dear for taking time to read my piece. of course there are such clan, ethical, etc. in each society and all these differences can be overcome only if we keep challenging and never sit back, that would be the best solution.

Warmest regards,

lydia's picture

great first article!

Hersi was indeed a wonderful woman to choose for your profile--she is active, invested in her community and is doing a lot of good work, proving that she is a wonderful role model for girls and marginalized groups in Somalia. She has done so much, that I felt my head swimming a bit reading about everything she is involved with. I started to get a much better idea of Hersi's goals for her community when you wrote about her plans for a beauty school and pre-school. These are two great, solutions-oriented ideas that will help the community move forward and really grounded your piece.
I am very curious about her plans for the beauty school and think you could develop that into a fascinating feature article. Other than delving deeper into why Hersi chose a beauty school, how that fits into a male-dominated society, if she had any road blocks setting up the school, etc., it would be very interesting to read about one or two of the girls who become enrolled in the school, what led them there, what hardships they have faced, what hopes they have for their future after beauty school. Anyway, just a thought for the future if you wanted to write more on Hersi and her incredible work!

Ruun Abdi's picture

Dearest Lydia, Thank you so

Dearest Lydia,

Thank you so much for taking time to read my first article and get back to me with a wonderful comment. As for the beauty school it is still on the planning and funraising stage, i was away for work for the past few weeks but am back now so i am gonna get back to her and see how things are going at her end .... I even promised to help her for whatever she needs, since am mostly free in the afternoons i told her i am gonna volunteer and be there for her if she needs anything.

Will write that feature article soon God's willing.

Warmest regards,

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture


Great job Ruun! I really like that you made Hersi seem like an ordinary woman who has done extraordinary things. She has accomplished so much, even in the face of discrimination and raising her family on her own. I would love to know a little more about she personally was able to raise 9 children. Did her family in the end support her? One thing I would suggest, is that you concentrate on just one or two major accomplishments that she has done, and that way you can go into further detail on those accomplishments. I would also suggest putting a few relevant statistics on women in Somalia (if they are available). This is a great first assignment, and I look forward to reading more!

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

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