A town crier informs Luq residents for 30 years, Somali news
Luq’s town crier, Omar Aidid Awil, has been spreading information to local people for 30 years/Mohamoud Abdirashid/Ergo

Limping with his cane and holding his megaphone, 55-year-old Omar Aidid Awil is a familiar sight and voice in Luq town in southern Somalia’s Gedo region.

A modern-day town crier, Omar goes around the town, which has no local radio station, making announcements and spreading information to all corners.

“I inform the public when new doctors visit the town to conduct medical camps such as eye surgery drives. I also raise awareness on polio and COVID19. I started with polio awareness,” he said.

Thirty years ago, Omar spotted a gap in relaying important information to the residents living on the outskirts of town. He bought a megaphone with his own money and has been providing the service ever since. He is known locally as Luq’s mobile radio station.

“I help the residents by making announcements about lost property or missing people. Most people have my number, they call me to request my help. I rent a tuk-tuk taxi from my pocket and pay three dollars to go round this large town. I don’t ask for payment, I help for free,” he said.

“When I started this initiative, there were no taxis, so donkey carts were my only means of transport. But now we have tuk-tuk taxis everywhere.  If there are any agencies who could help me with a disabled motorcycle and a new megaphone, I would appreciate it.”

Some years ago, local resident Shine Isack Ibrahim recalled losing $200 on his way to the mosque for prayer. He contacted Omar who announced Shine’s number. Someone called and returned his money.  This July, Omar helped Shine to trace his two young daughters who had gone missing for two nights.

“This man deserves to be helped because he is a hard worker and he doesn’t ask for money, he helps people for free. Many residents have found property or a missing person, thanks to his efforts,” said Shine.

On another occasion, Arab Hassan Ali contacted Omar to help find his young son, who had wandered off with their neighbour’s goats to the grazing field without the knowledge of his parents. Omar hired a tuk-tuk taxi to go around spreading word of the child’s description.

A young boy stopped the tuk-tuk to say he had seen the boy fitting the description grazing goats with two girls, and so the boy was found safe and sound.

“Omar is our radio as we don’t have a radio station in the town,” Arab told Radio Ergo. “He is the only person we approach when there is need for awareness of any kind. People even call him to ask when doctors are coming to the town.”

Omar lost his right leg in a car accident in 1988 while travelling from Somaliland and walks with the support of an artificial limb.  He is sometimes rewarded with a small token of appreciation for his services, but largely he is unpaid and has no reliable income. He is the sole provider for his family of 10 children.

Source: Radio Ergo

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