Sunday, 19 August 2012

Youth 4 Change Project – SOYDEN - Mogadishu


I got invited on Thursday 16th August, to a youth exhibition which took place and organised by “SOYDEN”, a youth Educational assignment aimed at young Somali youths who have been traumatised by the 2 decades of war and unrest in Mogadishu. Osman Moalin, the Executive Director at SOYDEN arranged for me, and 2 other guys I know from London, to give out a lecture or a confidence building talk to the youths in a scheme named “Youth 4 Change” funded by USAID and UNDP.

From the moment we walked in, all we could see was 200+ young Somali youths in full buzz, who this time last year, where in the streets of Mogadishu carrying AK-47s doing robberies, roadblocks and caught up in street gangs. Fast forward a year the youths have already learned how to read and write, built their social skills and integrated with rival gangs who they couldn’t see eye to eye with before. For me personally, it was a privilege to be able to be given the time to get collectively involved with the youths who share the same culture with me but have grown up in a difficult environment.

Osman introduced us to the gathering and from go; I was eager, just as the youths were, to get involved. They started throwing all sorts of questions, “Is it really cold in UK? How long have we stayed there? Why did we come back? How do you feel about Mo Farah? Are they ispaaro (a Somali term used to describe roadblocks by guys with AK-47s)? What is life like back in UK?” on and on. Without hesitation, we went straight in with the answers and it was creating a whole euphoria around the whole hallway. Teachers, staff, UNDP members and even some security service personnel, with their Ak-47s where giving us their focus. It was a magic moment and a whole new environment for us Diasporas. We loved every minute of it.

The questions kept coming, and we kept answering. So on to a degree where it felt as if we all knew each other. I could not believe that we had only all just met. I was fascinated about the fact how much warmth and full attention they have given us.  They were just as excited as we where to be with them.

When the time was up to conclude the Q/A, we had to chance to talk to some of the youths individually. To my delight, we exchanged facebook details and took some pictures together which I would cherish my whole life.

We left the centre with full pride and absolute pleasure to have been given this momentous privilege to be invited and see the progress Mogadishu is going through.

This experience has left me really emotionally joyful and I felt great satisfaction for every member involved in the programme. Whether it’s the Director Osman Moalin, who must be recognised for his tremendous effort and non-stop commitment, the teachers, staff or the students, I am sure this experience has left a mark on us all, somehow or someway.

Mogadishu’s youth are finally realising their ability and talent. With centres like this, it will give them the foundation and platform to enhance their talent/ability to full maximum.

Mohamed Hassan (Dj)

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