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Mogadishu gun victim empowers children with disabilities

Four years after surviving a near-death experience in an attack by unknown gunmen in Mogadishu, Mustafa Hassan Awad, 16, has launched a foundation dedicated to enhancing the lives of Somali children with disabilities.

The Abeer Foundation was launched in Mogadishu on Sunday, August 15, 2021, to mark the fourth anniversary of the day he and his siblings were attacked by masked gunmen who sprayed their Toyota Land Cruiser with bullets.

The incident left him on a wheelchair and killed his elder brother.

Mustafa suffered bullet wounds on his back which affected his spine, while Abeer was hit by a bullet on the left side of her brain, leaving her visually impaired and paralyzed on the right side.

The experience left the family shaken and completely devastated.

On Sunday, four years later, Mustafa launched the Abeer Foundation at a function attended by the Somali Deputy Prime Minister, Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid, other ministers, local civil society and business leaders and foreign dignitaries.

Speaking during the launch of the Foundation that is named after his sister, Mustafa said: “It is my pleasure to be here to share with you, my story. On this day, August 15th, 2017, while we were riding in our car; armed militants attacked my family with indiscriminate firing. My older brother Mohammed Hassan died on the spot, and it left me and my younger sister Abeer, along with 2 other family friends seriously injured.”

“It has been a long medical journey from Somalia, to Turkey, and Germany; visiting numerous hospitals and moving from city to city. We have gone through several surgeries and spent long weeks in the “ICU. I personally had to undergo physiotherapy sessions, and this came with its own challenges, which were both mental and physical. Thankfully, my family worked hard at helping me beat those challenges.”

Through sheer will, Mustafa was able to return to school after many months in hospital beds.

“I am now enrolled in secondary school and preparing for my IGCSE exam. I empowered myself to further my education by teaching myself programming and web development. Through this I have been able to create my own website,” he told the guests.

At the launch, his father Hassan Awad who is the Managing Director at Dahabshiil Group of Companies in Somalia also shared his experience and how the attack left his family devastated, and how they have had to cope with the crisis.

Hassan who also is the Vice Chair of the Abeer Foundation, said that with the help of Dahabshiil, his friends and family, he was able to take the children and the other injured family members to the best hospitals in Turkey and Germany.