Tag Archives: Somalia

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Teenage soccer player Jibril Kafi Ahmed has his eyes on the prize despite challenges facing Somalia

Our second featured interview to celebrate the Somali Youth Day is with a football enthusiast Ahmed. He too, is a member of Mogadishu One Stop Youth Center, who values the space as a place to to play, learn and grow. UN-Habitat recognizes the importance of public spaces to practice sports and interact with peers and this is why:

Sixteen-year-old Jibril Kafi Ahmed is a budding soccer player, who is already making a mark in his country Somalia, despite the instability caused by years of war.

Growing up in his neighborhood, in the capital’s Yaqshid district, Ahmed was denied the opportunity for normal upbringing, as he was confined indoors, due to insecurity caused by terror group Al-Shabaab.

Sounds of gunfire and explosions were a common feature of his childhood; while the sound of a bouncing football that he so much craved was just a mirage.

The challenges of growing up in a violent environment did not dim his desire to be a soccer player. As he grew older and as the security situation in Somalia improved, he started playing soccer.

Now a member of the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, which engages youth in sports, Ahmed finds himself in an enviable position, to advance his dreams.

The high school student, who cuts a lanky figure, says being a member of a sports team such as the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ comes with many benefits. And so does sports, which he adds, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and is a great platform for promoting peace and unity in society.

The shy youth, who would have been lured into crime, had he not joined the Centre, is a testimony that positive living produces great dividends.

“I appeal to the youth who are with Al-Shabaab or other militant groups to quit and join the government forces”, Ahmed says, in his message to youth who have joined criminal gangs such as terror group Al Shabaab.

“I plead with them to stop harming people because the country needs them. I also plead with them to stop fighting, as it does not add value to their lives”, he says.

Since joining the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, Ahmed’s his life has changed for the better.

“I look forward to playing for one of the top clubs in Europe”, he concludes during an interview.

The young man is unfazed by the instability in his country and has hopes to excel as an athlete and join the hall of fame, like Somalia born Olympian gold medalist Mo Farrah.

The ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ is an initiative led by UN-Habitat with the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) as part of the Youth Employment Somalia programme.

Advertisements

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Youthful Najmo Sa’eed Mire’s hope for peaceful co-existence in Somalia lies in sports

To celebrate the Somali Youth Day (15th May), UN-Habitat would like to highlight interviews with two young Somalis – beneficiaries of the Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, an initiative between the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) and UN-Habitat, which equips youth with vocational skills.

Najmo Sa’eed Mire strongly believes sport is the pathway to nurturing engaged youth and extols the immense power of sport in promoting peace and erasing clan differences, which continue to bedevil Somalia.

“Sports will help unite the people and once there is unity you have peace,” said Najmo, a twenty-one year old resident of Warta-nabada district in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

“Sports has a positive impact and both men and women can take part. It knows no borders,” she observed.

Najmo also noted that sports is capable of enhancing unity and discouraging youth from joining violent extremist organizations, blamed for the country’s security challenges.

Her great love for sports, illustrated in her participation in a cheering squad, during a football match at the Mogadishu One Stop Centre, explains her deep conviction in the positive attributes of sports.

With relative peace in the capital city, many youth are able to engage in various sporting activities. At the height of the biting drought, the youth have gone a step further and pulled resources to help communities affected by drought.

“As students we did our best to contribute to drought victims with the support of our teachers. In our neighborhoods, we collected money and other items for drought victims living in Garasbaley area and Yaqshid district. This was possible because sports brought us together and unified us,” Najmo explained.

While raising a white card to peace in Somalia, she appealed to the youth to take sports and education seriously and stay away from crime.

“I urge my fellow youths to reject crime and other unlawful activities and choose sports instead to help promote peace, love and unity. Together we shall succeed,” she says.

Najmo looks forward to the day when armed militia who kill and maim with reckless abandon, will dispose of their weapons and join peace-loving Somalis, in promoting peace through sports and other social activities.

“Youths do love sports. If the youth can agree on the type of sport they want to play, they can as well agree to unite and promote peace, which is good for the nation,” Najmo adds.

Youth and Conflict

UN-Habitat´s work in engaging youth as positive stakeholders in fragile states is developing strategies to engage in national youth policies in Somalia and Afghanistan. Part of the discussions are with the Secretary-General´s Envoy on Youth, the World Bank and Search For Common Ground on how to ensure the trickle-down effect of seeing youth as assets and not as troublemakers. There is a growing recognition globally that youth can play a positive role in building peace even in the most fragile of states.  We have seen both in Somalia and Afghanistan government and youth working together to craft national policies and develop programmes that assure youth’s engagement in governance. In the Democratic Republic of Congo youth and peacebuilding centres are being established based on the successful Kimisigara One Stop Youth Resource Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. The discussion in New York highlighted different models of youth engagement in peacebuilding in fragile states, with the goal to initiating a discussion on the factors that go into creating successful initiatives, and what the roles of youth, local and national governments, and the UN have in supporting these.

 

Peacebuilding through Sports: Engaging the youth of Somalia

Youth represent the most vibrant section of the society, they play a pivotal role in socio- economic changes and development of the society. A nation can only progress when the energy of the youth is channelled towards constructive work. Young people in Somalia love sports, they love to watch sports and more so, they love to play sports.

However, they have very few opportunities to do so – poor sports infrastructure, lack of sports facilities, limited organized sport activities, lack of capacity and lack of sufficient support both nationally and internationally leave many to stay on the passive side. But it’s not all so gloomy as there are enough enthusiastic people in and out of Somalia willing to work hard to change this.

With the help of international partners, young men and women across Somalia strive to create their own sport activities as well as participate in available sports training programmes focused on peer education, first aid and sports injuries, refereeing and coaching. As Said Warsame from Puntland, one of the participants of training organized by Norwegian Peoples Aid Somalia, (Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD Somalia) and CHRISC Kenya said:

“I have been to different workshops where topics such as HIV and AIDS were taught but this is the first time I have learnt new methods whereby I can use fun and games to pass different information instead of relying on workshops and seminars. This seems effective since it encourages participation and involvement. With this new knowledge I plan to use it to educate my fellow youth and at the same time have fun through sports”.

It was in 2005 when the value of sport was identified as an essential peacebuilding mechanism by the international development community. In post conflict countries, peace and stability are fragile but sport can undoubtedly help in peacebuilding and development initiatives when used wisely and strategically but we cannot expect it to do the magic without guidance as sport is by nature a contest. Expecting sport to restore the normality without any further effort would be foolish.

Sport can also serve as a fantastic tool for social and gender inclusion. Girls and women often do not have the same access to services and opportunities. Young people with physical or mental disabilities are also frequently excluded from everyday community life because of stereotypes and prejudices that accompany them. The social exclusion often felt by vulnerable communities can be challenged through sports as it offers a space, where everybody is welcomed to participate, regardless of their age, gender, or ability. It is an adaptable activity, where rules can be altered to community needs, especially if it is for having fun and attaining joy. Rules are created to give directions, not to prevent people from participation.

Re-building the country starts with the youth and sport can be a useful entry point for social change as it represents a great tool to mobilize, empower and engage young people to do just that. It brings people together, which is particularly important in a country like Somalia. It can teach them a thing or two about leadership, conflict resolution, fair-play and communication – transferable skills crucial for life outside the game as well.

While the country is on its way to recovery and reconstruction, the lack of safe and accessible sport infrastructure, qualified coaches, trained professionals with capacity to establish organized sport activities and sufficient equipment, remain a challenge. Through its Urban Sports Programme, UN-HABITAT is thus looking into possibilities to partner with the Government as well as local youth organizations and groups to tackle these issues and thus support urban and community development in Somalia.