America, Time To Send Our Noble Missionaries, The Peace Corps, Back To Somalia!
Elmi DidarI was born and raised in former British Somaliland Protectorate, Northwest Somalia and I went to the primary school in the late fifties … that is during the colonial era. But during that period in Somalia, education was not a right; it was a privilege as only those few who were lucky or could afford would go to school.
Tuesday March 7, 2017
But in 1960, Somalia became independent and suddenly, the Arab World, under Nassir of Egypt and the West, specifically America, under President Kennedy, came in to help and that was of course during the height of the Cold War.
Fortunately, President Kennedy, possibly realizing that developing the mind and not always using the military muscle, when it comes to making more friends in the global village, was the right response to communism which was at the time a huge challenge to Western civilization and ideology.
So, President Kennedy came up with the brilliant idea of establishing Peace Corps and sending them to the Third World and thereby hoping to acquire more friends through education. So, in the fall of 1962, the first contingent of the Peace Corps came to Somalia and four teachers; a chemist, two mathematics teachers and an English teacher were posted to my school. And despite all odds, they immediately, through excellence, shined and got the attention they deserved from everyone including the public, though Somalis did not like USA at that time because America was a close friend of Ethiopia, an arch-enemy of Somalia at the time.
By profession, today, I am a scientist thanks to many including my first Peace Corp teacher who taught us the ABC of science and chemistry. His always provocative but practical laboratory demonstrations and his challenging and thought invoking explanations often vividly come back to my mind every day. For instance, I can recall how one day, his pocket knife in an electroplating laboratory test demonstration, turned sky blue, which I understand today was due to the copper sulfate deposits on his knife. And in that class, I can recall whispering to myself asking “why this or that” amazed of what was really happening in the micro-world.
Mr. Paul, my English teacher was another gift who deserves to be mentioned here. I can recall how, in one of his always-creative essays, he took us (the class) to an imaginary trip to America, "the New World". And I can recall how he stole our imagination making us believe how, after 2 day-long flight in often turbulent weather, in late summer afternoon, our plane was finally hovering over the sky scrapers of New York. And I can recall how he made us believe that Lady Liberty, standing tall just below us, was welcoming us to the land of liberty. And I can recall how he made us believe that we finally landed at La Guardia Airport and soon he was driving some of us including me, in his big Cadillac in the streets of New York.
Friends, that and that alone created in me a lasting impression and desire to learn more of America and hopefully end up in there one day.
Fortunately, in 1963, America built a teachers’ institute near Mogadishu, Somalia. It was run by Eastern Michigan State University at Lansing, Michigan and luckily, in 1965, I was one of those selected for that institute and three years later became a teacher for the schools of Somalia. Later, again supported by USA, the same school became a teachers’ college and I graduated from there too.
As a graduate from both institutions, I found out the American education system, as one that was easy yet, progressive, challenging, innovative and powerful. And since that date, I was determined to go to USA at least for higher studies thanks to the Peace Corps who taught us that the road to success lies solely in education and hard work.
Unfortunately, the socialist military government of Somalia…politically motivated, myopically replaced the impressive American-oriented education system with mass literacy programs and soon Somalia's once promising and highly competitive education system in the whole country collapsed, (albeit initial mass literacy rate successes at the expense of quality, thanks to the Somali language introduction). But today, Somalia is literally in the 10th World when it comes to education. And even many college graduates from here cannot spell their names correctly.
Regrettably, for many reasons including the Ethio-Somali war of the mid 1970’s, the collapse of Somalia education system, and the crippling national debts thanks to the running out of control corruption and misappropriation of funds, the whole country collapsed. And the already falling out of favor government of Siad Barre was overthrown; and soon the country descended into civil war that it literally became a failed state in the Horn of Africa, a failure from which it has yet to overcome despite a massive international campaign to put it (Somalia) back in order.
Fortunately (maybe), the collapse of Somalia caused a human mass migration to the West and today hundreds of thousands if not more are citizens to Europe, North America or Australia. In fact, Somalis are now in almost every country on this globe and many of them are intellectuals or professionals in every field.
So, hello America, as a Somali American who now lives here and carefully follows the daily political, social, economic, etc. realities here ....my birth place (Somalia) for the last five years. I find it imperative to write this honest petition and advice to my country (America), and hope it will give heed to it. America should strongly support Somalia's newly elected inspiring president who also happens to be a US citizen. And should that happen, I believe that will make a huge difference.
First, America’s declared war on Al shabaab is truly welcome. It could never have come at a better time. However, understanding realities here (Somalia) more than many other observers, I would advise that the Regional as well as the international community also must collectively do more to bring this country back to normalcy.
No one can afford to ignore the decades long nightmare to continue because out of the last few decades’ lawlessness and misery, world criminals, in the name of hijacked Islam, have established a strong foothold here and operate freely and where there is a semblance of peace in any part of Somalia, catastrophes may be looming!
Sadly, these brutal groups have time and again, proven they are here. And they are totally against peace and order because they know if they lose they will be hunted, killed and/or prosecuted and put in prisons.
However, a big part of America’s contribution should rather come in the form of putting the noble missionaries (Peace Corps) back to work. And yes, resuming the works of that Mission today would be far more effective because for any community or country to develop and succeed, putting emphasis on the infrastructure…education being first, is a necessity and that is where Peace Corps always did and do better.
This time however, America can and should target Somali Americans or European Somalis most of who currently do nothing in their new countries but are only a social burden because they claim and live on social security checks contributing nothing of value and substance to the national GDP of their new countries.
So, in my view, hiring that group as Peace Corps and putting them back in Somalia can do a lot in resuscitating the now moribund education system of their former country because they understand the culture, climate, language and their communities far better than anyone else and accordingly can help stabilize it (the country) to develop faster.
Another beautiful part of this plan is, America would be doing a big favor for Somalia by bringing back every community its “lost sons/daughters”, but who now know better to rebuild the country. And fortunately, every Somali village or town, in this country of Somalia, I am sure, has one if not more of its intellectuals sitting idle somewhere in the West.
The costs America incurs on that project, would not be high and the gains truly outweigh the risks. So, if for instance, America employs 10,000 intellectuals as Peace Corps at a basic salary of $700 per person per month, the total cost for a whole year would be $84 million and of course does not mean that America does not or should not contribute on other programs too and that sum is nothing for superpower America.
Interestingly, spending that much alone would have immeasurable benefits. It would be a direct assistance to Somali communities across Somalia as every Somali village would have some of America’s money indirectly paid to them since their son/daughter is with them spending that money in their own village and accordingly supporting his/her relatives and/or community.
So, hello America!, let us show our compassion again. We cannot remain indifferent to watch merciless medieval type mullahs committing countless atrocities against innocent Somali mothers and their children. We cannot afford to remain indifferent and watch a cesspool full of world criminals destabilizing Somalia or the whole Horn of Africa, dictating it who to be. We cannot remain indifferent and watch hundreds of Somalis or their supporters terrorized or dying daily in the hands of merciless suicide bombers, with hijacked foreign ideologies, who hate life and living and whose sole mantra is death and destruction.
And last but not least, as a caring nation that always stands by others at their time of need. For heaven's sake, America, as today's sole superpower, we cannot close our eyes and ignore our responsibilities; let us save Somalia by freeing it from the yokes of Al-shabab and their mentors both of whom were flushed out from their hideouts in the Middle East! And certainly America's Peace Corps, through educating the public, can make an unparalleled contribution.
However, my strong advice to Somalis is, as Somalis we cannot afford to remain indifferent expecting others to clean our dirt. Let us do our fair and major share, come together in good faith, hold shoulder to shoulder, put our muscles and minds together and together sing: "wada jir bay laba gacmood wax ku qaban karaane, an isweheshanno walaalayaal an wada jiranoy walaalayaal". And let us put Somalia where it was in its hey days of glory; the days of lightening and the nights of drums.
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