The Tale of a Teenage Refugee

Saliim (left) and Abdi (right) do everything together – especially science homework and soccer. They both hope to make Fatuma (center) proud and study medicine. Photo credit: Penelope Crump / Save the Children
Saliim (left) and Abdi (right) do everything together – especially science homework and soccer. They both hope to make Fatuma (center) proud and study medicine. Photo credit: Penelope Crump / Save the Children

In honor of World Refugee Day, Save the Children celebrates brave children who have been forced to flee their homes – and rebuild their lives. Abdi embodies courage, strength and determination.

At just 15 years old, Abdi was orphaned when the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia spilled over into his home. With his parents gone, Abdi became a vulnerable target. Militant groups often recruit boys to become child soldiers. Wanting to honor his parent's memory, he fled war-torn Somalia in hopes of continuing his education. He left with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few school books.

Abdi spent several harrowing days walking in 110 degree heat through the desert. The nights, though cool, were often terrifying. Scores of bandits roamed the road from Mogadishu to the refugee camps in neighboring Ethiopia.

When he arrived at the camp, Abdi was sent to Save the Children's special program for children who have been orphaned or separated from their parents.

In another part of the refugee camp, Fatuma and her husband doted on their only child, a 12-year-old boy named Saliim. They'd always wanted a bigger family, so Fatuma and her husband applied to become Save the Children foster parents. Save the Children provides families with beds, clothing, food vouchers and other essential items for foster children. What's more, foster parents get extra help to rebuild their lives, such as training, livestock and small business loans.

Abdi was placed with Saliim's family and they quickly bonded as brothers. Life in the refugee camps is hard, but with brave children like Abdi and loving foster parents, there is hope for the future.

Boys like Abdi are why we're dedicated to helping children in need. We work in poor and vulnerable communities in countries from America to Zimbabwe — saving one child at a time. Our caring staff helps provide lifesaving care for newborns, feed hungry children, educate girls and boys, fight child trafficking and respond to catastrophic disasters worldwide.

Sadly, we know firsthand that there are far too many children who aren't getting the help they need. And that's where YOU come in. Without compassionate people like you, children like Abdi go without.

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