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Case stories: Youth for Change Programme

27 November 2012 - Hundreds of young Somalis, seen as being are at risk of becoming involved in violence, have learnt new skills and given renewed hope by a programme in Puntland and Somaliland. The joint programme, implemented by UNICEF along with UNDP and ILO , provided the young people with  employment and educational opportunities. From September 2011, 700 children from violence- sensitive areas in Burao and Bosasso, participated in life skills-based education, vocational training and psychosocial programs and are being reintegrated back into the community. After taking part in the programme, some have been motivated to go back to formal school while others have found work – and many showed behavioural changes and positive decision making. UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure formal and non-formal educational opportunities are available for the children.

One of the highlights of the program has been the complete turnaround of a significant number of youth from the engagement in violent activities. One of the participants, 17-year-old Salman said: “I want to continue my life with a pen and not a gun”. The impact of this program has been noted by the authorities as contributing to peace building and the stabilization of fragile areas.

Phase Two of the programme will be implemented in Bosasso, Burao and Mogadishu benefiting 1000 young people.

Testimony from those at the start of the Youth for Change Programme

“My name is Mohammed* and I was born in Mogadishu. I came to Bosasso four years ago. I am now ten years old.  I live in a camp for the internally displaced with four of my siblings. My father works in construction but he chews the money that he earns and he does not care about us. My mother cannot really take care of us so I am working on the streets polishing shoes and the money I earn I give to her.  I usually make about a dollar a day.  Few days ago some guys from a gang attacked me and my friend from the host community.  They took all my money. I am very angry and I will retaliate if I see them.”

“My name is Osman and I am eleven years old. I live on the street because my mother has passed away and my father is in Galkayo. I have nobody to take care of me. But I do not need anyone anyway there is an old mama who brought me to this centre (Resource Centre for Peace). I have my gang, we are three and I am the leader. We always hang out together and we have our tactics how get the money from the people.  They arrested me a couple of times but then I always get out. Although I like being in the jail. At least I get food.

There is a black market where I used to sell the stolen mobiles. Than we have a lot of food. We are very strong. When other gangs attack us we fight back. Last time we stoned to death another kid because his gang tried to rob us. Our main area of operation is the port. There is always a lot going on. We clean the marines’ shoes and the deck. The marines are from India and Pakistan. They pay us in fuel. We used to get five to ten liters of fuel that we sell on the market. Then we eat well. Sometimes they are bad, so I started carrying a knife to protect myself and my team.”

The story of Mousa “Wariye” who has now completed the programme

UNICEF Somalia/2012
© UNICEF Somalia/2012
Mousa Yussuf Abdi, 13, is known by his nickname Mousa ‘’Wariye’’ which literally means “the reporter” because of his ambition to appear on the television news.

Mousa Yussuf Abdi*, 13, is known by his nickname Mousa ‘’Wariye’’ which literally means “the reporter” because of his ambition to appear on the television news. And it was his keen interest in reporting that has helped his transformation from living on the streets to attending one of the best private schools in his area.

Mousa comes from Burao in north west east Somalia. His parents divorced when he was young  and he spent most of his time living on the streets, sometimes visiting his uncle. During his time with the street children he began getting into trouble. However, he was inspired by a well-known local television reporter. He used to imitate the reporter and never missed watching the evening news at the local tea shops in Burao.

His life changed when he became a beneficiary of the Youth for Change program at the SOYDAVO youth centre in Burao. During his time there he received support and training and began to show his potential – coming top in tests and reuniting with his uncle. His talent was recognized by his teachers at the program who took a video clip of him repeating the news verbatim and sent it to the local television station Horn Cable Television. The television station managers were impressed with Musa’s talent and are now sponsoring him to attend private school in Buroa. He hopes to become a reporter after finishing his education.

* Names have been changed.



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