“25 names of youths you recognize in the community who are at risk to criminal affiliate and been associated with militia and freelance activities”. The groups we are asking for this information are Mogadishu’s peace committees, located throughout the 16 districts within the city. A strong emerging prominent groups consisting of 240 members who are divided into 15 within each district and have their own fair election on choosing a chairperson and deputy, the peace communities are the heart and soul of Mogadishu. They are the members chosen from every district by their communities to represent them with having full access to their district commissioners twice a week and are the voice of their respected borough.
As Somalia emerges from war and destruction, collapse of trust for one another has affected the country with the outcome being isolation and fear amongst ourselves. The district peace communities have provided a breath of fresh air with their eager to sacrifice time, energy and resources. They only hope for restoring confidence and faith amongst communities. Their contribution to society had been noted when the governor of Banadir had accepted a request from them to be provided identification cards in order to conduct their job securely. Keep in mind; this time last year, they had been unknown to each other and their neighbourhoods. Community development has recently been made more accessible because of peace committees which prove how influential they gotten within the metropolis.
The peace committees are made up of 3 women, 3 elders, 3 youths, 2 IDPs, 2 religious elders and 2 from the business community in each district totaling to 15.
This was done to have a voice from each background level within a district represented and have a louder say in what activities to be conducted and to provide assistance to security and organizations on conducting projects. When we had tasked them to provide with us 25 names of youths, it was because of a major project named “Youth 4 Change”, being implemented by Somali Youth Development Network, targeting those at risk and providing with them an alternative route to life. Challenging mission of course, but what the peace committees have done was to provide us access to these youths, after-all, they do reside in their communities and have the knowhow on these individuals.
Just recently, we had concluded a Trauma Healing Forum throughout Mogadishu specifically for the women of the city and the contribution from PCs (Peace Committees) had been beyond useful. We were provided an insight and access to local women within the community who had shared with us their traumatic experience. It would have been a costly task on facilitating our own research and would have taken much time. Not only have the PC’s contributed on smoothing the progress of the task, but must also take credit on raising the trust between their neighborhoods, a major boost to the reconciliation program the government is currently implementing.
Other successes with peace committees include in mobilizing communities to participate in planning and implementation of programs such as Mine Risk Education Soyden had been facilitating by training over 1,800 school teachers and members across the city. PC’s also contribute a vast amount of energy in solving disputes amongst neighbors by raising awareness of peace building and importance of unity.
We must also take note, this is a group who go without any salary and doing whatever it takes to bring Mogadishu forward with peace and harmony amongst all. A breath of fresh beacon to the on-going progress Mogadishu has been currently witnessing.
The job just doesn’t stop there. With security being our most vital task if we want to live in peace, District Commissioners have noted to the governor of the region how PC’s are now promoting a united community by organizing peace rallies and aiding the security personnel of suspicious activities. This has halted numerous planned attacks that have saved so many lives.
One must only witness and speak with PC’s in order to see the will and ambition they have for Somalia and it’s a beautiful sight to be amongst those working with them. I’m sure the work they conduct has been noted by the higher government.
A group of individuals who carry no guns but hope for the community they reside in, a rare sight to see in Somalia.
Mohamed Hassan (Dj)