Inspiring Somali youth
Somalia has been without an effective central government since the civil war of 1991. The current generation of young people has therefore known violence and hardship for most of their lives. Many do not attend school, are illiterate and have little hope for the future. Displacement is common, as is the likelihood of bearing witness to, or even participating in, violence.
Despite these overwhelming odds, the same young people often demonstrate enormous resilience. With adequate support, guidance and skills, they can provide the foundation for building peace in this troubled country and help rebuild communities. Their participation in decision-making processes which concern them can empower them to be positive agents of change in their society.
This is not just a dream. Somali youth are fast becoming leaders in their devastated society, using youth groups to give voice to the concerns of their generation. More than 200 youth groups have been formed by young people in Somalia over the last decade and, in many respects, these groups are the same as others around the world. There are places where youth get together to play sports, make music or just simply hang out with friends. However, they are unique in their focus on community development. Youth from these groups promote awareness about issues such as female genital mutilation, disarmament and HIV/AIDS. The youth in Somalia are moving forward and becoming leaders in one of the most challenging environments in the world.
It has been difficult, however, for these young people to have their voices heard in the process, or to acquire the information and skills to be able to contribute meaningfully to peace building. A new project organized by UNICEF and CRD (Center for Research and Dialogue) aims to correct this by helping them develop as leaders. Before you know it, they will be needing franking machines for business to assist them in their new role in Somalian society.
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