From Salmon Arm to Somalia

Presentation: Sean Paterson presents a safety kit to aircraft marshall Mohamed Adan as airport management looks on. - Photo contributed
Presentation: Sean Paterson presents a safety kit to aircraft marshall Mohamed Adan as airport management looks on.
— image credit: Photo contributed

The kindness of a Salmon Arm family has travelled all the way to Somalia.

Sean Paterson, an economist from Salmon Arm, has been working in Kismayo, Somalia as chief technical advisor for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). UNIDO has been working to complement stabilization efforts there now that the area has been cleared of militants and other armed opposition groups.

On his first mission there in April, Paterson heard about aircraft marshall Mohamed Adan, who used his bare hands to direct planes, with no gloves or even a reflector jacket. Adan was often in danger, especially in foggy conditions during the rainy season when visibility was so low that he had to be careful not to get hit by the planes he was directing.

Back at home, Paterson told his 14-year old son Noah about the man’s predicament and they decided to do something about it.

They bought a reflector jacket, a pair of reflector gloves and painted wood to make two luminous red reflector sticks.

Sean presented the kit to Adan upon his return to the southern port city in Somalia.

The kindness of the Canadian father-son duo caught the attention of Somalian journalist, Guled Mohamed, who wrote about their actions. He sent his story to the Observer.

The journalist wrote that Adan was elated when he received the gifts.

“I cannot explain how I feel because I have never received a present in my life,” Adan told the journalist. “It is so kind of them to remember me thousands of miles away and bring me these gifts. I have worked at this airport for the last 23 years under very hard and tough moments under 17 different administrations. The only thing that makes me happy is that this administration in control now wants to bring change and development and that is what keeps me going.”

Pilots flying into Kismayo noticed the change immediately when Adan started using the kit, writes journalist Mohamed.

“I noticed a difference with Adan today,” said one pilot. “I clearly saw the reflector sticks and his jacket and I was actually wondering whether it was him.”

Paterson said his family is happy to help in whatever way possible.

“The 35 Canadian dollars and the time we spent in making him the reflector sticks is really nothing compared to the feeling of doing something good or helping improve someone’s life or work,” Paterson told the journalist.

Kismayo is a southern port city in Somalia that is known for its farmlands and white pristine beaches, writes the journalist.

“Just like the rest of chaotic Somalia, in the last few years the city witnessed brutal war as different warlords and militia groups fought over the control of the city’s international airport and seaport.”

Since September 2012, however, Somalia forces and peacekeepers from Kenya, Sierra Leone and Burundi have maintained peace in the city, opening it up to international and local investment.


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