Rebuilding Burao (2)

In a country where $5/month lets a young boy go to school and take a plumbing course, $10/month can put them to a computer school, one would think these school fees are simply affordable. Not to the poorer Somalilander household where 12,000 – 17,000 shillings are painstakingly budgeted to feed a household of 5.

However, compared to moving to Hargeisa or to Borama where Hargeisa University and Amoud University are located respectively, Candlelight Vocational School offers the youth of Burco a better option. Established in 1998, it is recognized by the Ministry of Education as a secondary school, apart from Candlelight there is only one secondary school that exist in this city.

At the moment, it has 550 students taking up 6-months computer classes, plumbing and secretarial courses. The low school fees cannot sustain the cost of maintaining the school’s physical stucture, salary for teachers and staff among others. Candlelight opened a workshop in a building fronting the school, hired a professional blacksmith from Hargeisa and now produce steel windows and fences and sell these products to businesmen and locals.

Burco Youth Recreation center :


With the help from UNDP, Candlelight is at its last phase of building the first Youth recreation center in the city. When we entered the compound, we were welcomed by huge basket courts and a seemingly unfinished volleyball court.

Why basketball when Somalilanders are fond of playing football? beats me, some say its because there is no place to play basketball, and then I asked where do they play football?


Rebuilding Burao

Rebuilding Burao is the responsibility of everyone, it is here where the contribution of civil society, government and the Somalis in the diaspora are very apparent.

Last July 26, the newest and quite luxurious hotel (in Somali standards) in the city was opened. Its City Plaza Hotel. Built by a Somali engineer from the diaspora, the structure is like a resort hotel in a tropical country like the Philippines. After more than 4 hours of travelling, we reached Burao at around 8:45 and was awfully hungry,food is not readily available in local restaurants they say, so since Citi Plaza was newly built and its a hotel (which we assume has food anytime of the day) we took the risk and went straight. Approaching the hotel at night, it looked like a mall with all their colorful lights and wide structure.





We stayed at the rooftop and enjoyed the night breeze of wind. It’s like a fortress, very impressive and quite relaxing for our group who were tired.

The hotel is accessible by car, my Somali colleagues felt quite sad with the fact that it is not quite accessible to the local population. The price of food is quite expensive given the quality. We waited for an hour (remember we came from Hargeisa, passed by those dead camels, had a flat tire and traversed the bumpy roads) and was almost ready to leave when the food (which we did not originally ordered, but they served it to us anyway and we ate it anyway because it was the only thing available.

Streets of Burao




The technical institute built by the Germans, this used to be the most popular educational institute in the region, destroyed during the war, it still hasn’t been rebuilt.

habhab (or xabxab?) fresh, red and sweet, they are everywhere.

Ahmed‘s uncle, old men are usually dressed this way, i just find it nice and very dignified.

somalia shillings.jpg
Wheel barrow is very useful in this country, it is used to transport bread, dry goods and yes even money. In Burco, Somalia shillings is still used because of its bustling trade with the South and surrounding regions of the former Somalia Republic. If Somaliland shillings is 7,500 to $1, Somalia shillings is 21,000 to $1.

Windy Burao

I’m back in Hargeisa now, I still have to write more about our eventful trip to Burco (pronounced as Boo-ra-o) and of course that beautiful town of Berbera. Our server was down for a few days which felt like ages. Anyway, the important thing is we’re connected to the world again.

Burao is known for a few things, one is the militant character of its people, this is where the best and bravest fighters of Somali National Movenment (the liberation army that toppled the Siad Barre dictatorship) come from. They say peace is still fragile in this area, but everything is done with caution, specially in settling disputes.

America has Chicago as its windy city, Somaliland has Burco. The weather is perfect. The downside of it is the dust. I was teasing my Somali friends that in Burco, women don’t need to wear make up all they have to do is get outside and walaah! instant make over. If you’re not vain and whiny, it’s not that bad really, if you are one of those types then, please give the people of Burco a break and go back to your sheltered life.

I remember my first post about Burao, the meat country, a place where you are served meat 3 times a day. The best restaurant in town is still the good old reliable Shamaxale (Shamahale) where the service is fast (specially for travellers like our group) and tasty! Frequented by locals and expats, this is the place where you could get a decent and delicious meal.