5 Questions for a Kid who Shines Shoes in Mogadishu

Abdinashir Mohamed Guled spends five minutes asking a shoe shiner in Mogadishu five questions.

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Muse Abdi, I come from the town of Baidoa [in south-western Somalia] and I am 13 years old.

When you shined your very first pair of shoes who was it for and what kind of shoes did they wear?

I shined my first pair of shoes for my neighbor, a man called Nur, his shoes were sandals.

How many people do you live with?

I live with my older brother and we live in my aunt's house, my mother died of leprosy in 2007 and my father is blind and he lives in Baidoa with my two sisters. They are poor and have no breadwinners, I sometimes go to there when I make money, to bring some good money to them to keep them alive. My two sisters help the father. They go begging to get some money to buy food.

Do you ever shine the shoes of your friends and family?

Yes, I shine all types of shoes, but I encounter problems when I shine shoes for soldiers, they don't give me my money and if I argue they may kill me on the spot. One of my friends, Hassan Bufle, was killed for that reason. He asked for the money after the job from a Somali soldier, the soldier left without saying anything, Bufle ran after him and asked for the money and then the soldier shot him dead with two bullets in the head! He was the best friend I ever had. We used to help each other but I have no friend now.

If you could talk to someone who shines shoes in New York what would ask them?

If I would speak to someone who shines shoes in New York I would ask him to send me money because he is rich because he earns more than me. I have no more customers because people no longer sit at cafes for security reasons so I cannot shine shoes for them. They also don't want to wait until you finish shining on the streets because it's dangerous and they fear for their lives.

Please let the New York shoe shiner send me some dollars because I am poor, all shoes shiners are friends so we should help each other regardless of ethnicity.

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