As Somalia joined the rest of the world in marking International Day of the African Child on Tuesday, children in the East African country shared their voices, dreams, and aspirations with Anadolu Agency.

First established by the Organization of the African Unity in 1991, the day aims at raising awareness for the situation of children in Africa, and on the need for continuous improvement in health and education.

“I would like to be a pilot in the future and fly across the world and meet new people,” said Najma Sagal, a 14-year-old student from Mogadishu. “I want to make many friends from all over the world and bring joy to my family.”

Yuusuf Zahi, also 14, wants to be a teacher. “I want to pass the knowledge that I will get from university to children like me,” he said, hoping that Somalia becomes a peaceful country.

“I want to build my country Somalia to be a place of peace, where children can play on the streets while eating Doolshe Buuro [a type of cake].”

Ayan Hani, who is 12-years-old, meanwhile, aspires to become a doctor. “I don’t want my mum to get sick again, she has been unwell many times,” he said. “When I am a doctor, I will always treat her when she coughs… I want to treat all mums who are taking care of their children, and also look after their little ones.”

Hassan Issack, 17, said he wants to pursue a career in politics for the country’s “better future.”

“I want a better future for all children who will be born in Somalia, I don’t want to see any children on the streets, where they can be easily exploited,” he said. “That is why as an African child I study hard at school.”

Children’s rights organizations in Somalia used the day to call for expanding child protection services amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

”We must scale-up child protection services now, and prioritize child-centered responses focusing on education, health, nutrition, and psychosocial support,” Mohamud Ali, a child protection technical specialist at Save the Children, said in a joint statement.

The 2020 theme for the day is Access to a Child – Friendly Justice System in Africa.

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