Leaders are not born, but are created: Youth for Change project (Y4C)

DSCN0647The Youth for Change (Y4C) project was implemented from January to December 2013 in partnership with UNICEF,  The main objective of the project was to contain and prevent conflicts by engaging adolescent at risk through creation of employment and livelihood opportunities at the district level. As an organization we put all our resources at our disposal -manpower, finance and facilities- in ensuring the success of the project.

The various components of this multi-pronged project were: Conduct refresher training for Adolescents, peer educators and non-formal education teachers, reviewing of LSBE and NFE manuals, conduct Literacy and LSBE training classes for 350 adolescents at risk, conduct basic ICT literacy training classes, conduct psychosocial counseling for newly registered adolescents, and their families and communities members. In addition, we planned to hold inception of mentorship clubs, engage adolescents in positive community activities, engage participants with recreational activities, establish a referral mechanism as well as conduct community mobilization and child rights training.  Last but not least, PSA undertook a media campaign to raise awareness on adolescents and violence.

The expected project outcome was to realize the harmonious and sustainable integration of 350 youth-at-risk(YAR) in their respective communities. This would then support them lead fulfilling lives as a result of acquiring life skills.  The 350 beneficiaries were identified and selected through a criterion which was transparent and fair to all prospective eligible adolescents in targeted areas within Bosaso.

A meeting was then held by PSA, whereby all village elders and committees/clans elders were invited and presented with the program’s core objectives.  Literacy and numeracy skills in Somali and Arabic languages were passed on. Children were taught basic arithmetic such as counting, addition, subtraction and multiplication. In addition, children learned and practiced some of the life based skills, thereafter participating in adolescent discussions. The exercise offered opportunity to practice problem solving/analytical skills, communication skills, decision-making and team work. Sheikhs and elders encouraged the adolescent to gain knowledge from the program.

Similarly, during the NFE, the beneficiaries learned basic mathematics concepts. These are addition, division, multiplication and subtraction. As we write, learners can now read and write Somali and Arabic languages. Regarding LSBE training PSA organized ten sessions a week amounting to 120 study sessions per quarter.

Within the program PSA initiated training for 45 youth who exhibited leadership skills. This was aimed at creating a pool of peer educators who can pass on step down skills in the use of community dialogue to solve problems. This is especially in regard to respect for human rights and dignity.

Beginning in September, 200 youth were transitioned to formal education. They joined Salahudiin Primary and secondary school for formal education. Beneficiaries sat the standard examinations which offered a basis to categorize and have them enrolled  in any one class –between Class 1 to class 8. Learners were divided into morning and afternoon intakes. 50 of the beneficiaries joined secondary school. PSA duly carried out its role to pay for the school fees, do follow ups, provide mentorship, recreational activities, refreshments, facilitate Life skills based education (LSBE) sessions and buy school uniforms for the students.

On 27th February 2013, PSA held a meeting with all the adolescent Peer Educators. We presented them the 2009 UNICEF’s LSBE manual and the 2012 course outline.  The participants duly reviewed the manual and adapted a course outline that was used to facilitate adolescent education sessions. In the afternoon, PSA presented to all the NFE teachers the APE program targets of 9-16 years and AE program targets of 16 years and above. Here too, the course outline was adapted following a review of the original manual. The manual was developed by the Ministry of education and international organizations.

PSA’s  ICT centre was prepared and equipped, 20 computers were set up at the centre to be used for practical. The classes were conducted for 12 hours per week for 8 months, the ICT team presented and agreed on the work plan and ICT curriculum, The Centre also secured and availed relevant learning materials.

From time to time we hired doctors within Bosaso, who are specialists in psychosocial therapy. They occasionally provided counseling to all the 350 children. A needs assessment was routinely done at the start of each counseling session. The challenges of the assessed children ranged from trauma after serving in armed forces and various militia groups, separation from their families, family feuds, poverty and lack of food.

Between the first and last quarter, a total of 97 children and 93 parents underwent some psycho-social therapy or support. We managed to organize 27 sessions where the speakers/facilitators came from outside the centre but within the community. These sessions were conducted to encourage and motivate the adolescents to stop violence and be the beacon of hope in the community.

We conducted psychosocial training to 128 various categories of target groups of community members and families of the beneficiaries. The latter includes elders, sheikhs and centre managers received PSS skills in to help adolescents at risk to cope with life challenges. During the sessions,  parents were given a chance to highlight various problems and challenges that are associated with their children and a remedy to each problem was suggested.

In the last quarters of the project, 30 beneficiary children participated in community based activities. These include women peace campaigns that were organized by a partner –Danish refugee Council (DRC).  They also participated in community policing.

5 video documentaries were produced with the video clips featuring activities like study cycles and radio debates, sports, TV talk-shows as well as learning and recreational activities. The videos were later on shown to the students, parents and several of our stakeholders. We further plan to upload them on various sites and platforms.

According to our own research and assessment, 88% of youth in the region read magazines. The youth range from 13 to 18 years of age; among the magazines being read includes our own HIMILO monthly magazine.

According to the youth, magazines are a great source of entertainment and information. It is a perfect way to relax and unwind. Generally magazines provide information about the latest trends, upcoming events, current affairs, celebrity news apart from self-help, health and other information depending on the style and focus of the magazine. HIMILO magazine provides information to youth about various aspects of the entire community.

78 articles were published in the HIMILO magazine within the period; with 5000 copies of the magazine produced and distributed.

All over the world, internet sites especially websites and social media have proved to be most popular especially among the youth. These sites are integral to the success of any organization. Recognizing this fact, we created the P.S.A Facebook fan page. In addition, UNICEF created for us HELLO website in order for the youth -within and outside the country- to get access and get informed about our activities and initiatives as well as have a chance to be part of it. The platform is easier to maintain, update and expand.

P.S.A’s Facebook page was developed due to Facebook popularity among the youth around the region and globally. We post and update activities, events, photos, debates, chatting, research and challenges faced by the youths in Puntland; we also routinely post articles on all activities initiated by PSA. It is regularly updated by the P.SA staff; the social network has also improved the coordination between various stakeholders and the organization.

On recreational activities and sports, all 350 beneficiaries were trained in it with every class allocated a total of 6 hours per week for this purpose. The children were so interested in the recreational activities that it reached an extent of becoming a motivational tool. In the same vein, 12 classes had trips to Laag villages (30 kilometres north of Bosaso) and BiyoKulule (15 kilometres East of Bosaso). During the trips, recreational and sports sessions were held.

Specialists of each sport were in charge of their respective sport which greatly enhanced safety and quality standards. Very few cases of injuries were reported. Participation in music, art, community work, clubs and hobbies was also considered.

  1. Establishment of drama and art team

The drama instructor trained the participants in various aspects of theatre production. This included: improvisation techniques, script writing, characterization and acting. The training helped in equipping the drama club members with appropriate skills to script, act and direct productions. Participants also had opportunity to watch some exciting movies/videos which stimulated their minds to come up with interesting plays as well as act them play out.

The objectives of the Drama activities were firstly to encourage public participation/involvement. This is intended to create a safe and hospitable environment for adolescents. Secondly, drama promotes adolescent creativity and appreciation of their culture. Then it also encourages the community to watch, appreciate, identify and nurture local talent. All the aforementioned objectives were achieved. The drama group learned a lot of lessons from it and in the process drama skits with relevant messages were acted out for the target audiences.  Many people were reached and the messages carried in these plays were well received.

  1. Establishment of referral mechanism

PSA refers children for specialist care and attention at medical facilities and police stations. A total of 10 children were referred for psychiatric /psychosocial therapy (PST). This followed their prognosis as being traumatized due to abuse, violent conflict or serving as armed or non armed combatants in militia groups.

In one incident, a child who had head injuries was referred to hospital for psychiatric care. The doctors recommended that the child be taken outside the country for surgery. PSA and other LNGOs through fundraising raised the money enabling the child to undergo surgery. We are happy to report that following this initiative, he is now in good health.  It is also of note that during summer, 25 beneficiaries felt sick due to the sweltering heat wave ushered in by the harsh season.  PSA promptly referred them to hospitals for treatment.  The youths were able to get treatment and recovered.

  1. Community mobilization and child protection training

To prevent children from violence and abuse requires collective responsibility.  Successful child protection interventions employ a triple approach dubbed 3Ps: promotion (awareness rising), prevention and prosecution. The prevention approach requires the community to find a common structure and process that encourages a variety of organizations to cooperate and build synergy so as to achieve a common goal. In 2013, PSA in collaboration with UNICEF conducted community mobilization and training on child rights. The two activities reached both host communities in the 16 villages of Bosaso. We succeeded in sensitizing the population on children rights and need to protect them from and violations.

In ensuring the objectives of the two activities are attained, we had to bring on board all the relevant stakeholders. We made sure that all the tradition elders and Sheikhs from the targeted areas were fully involved in our activities and given a role to play in order for the general community to have a sense of ownership in it.  In addition, we invited various members of the community in our preliminary meetings. After presenting  to them about our plans for the two activities, they gave us a go ahead.

We eventually held community mobilization on children rights and carried out training achieving our objectives.

Bosaso city municipality agreed that they will factor in children and adolescent rights in all local development plans starting with the year 2014. The overall aim of this intervention was to promote community knowledge and attitudes toward children rights. The initiative was very successful; some community members confessed they had hitherto not been aware of children rights. Following the sensitization, they promised to embrace it in all their undertakings.

  1. Media campaign on adolescent issues and violence:

After wide consultation and deliberation we realized that our activities alone on adolescents’ issues and violence were not enough. we came to realize that apart from all that we are doing, we needed an avenue to enable us reach and connect to the larger Puntland state population. This is where we decided to take our initiatives and campaign to the next level by introducing the use of social media and media houses.  We even went a notch higher by coming up with our own youth magazine dubbed HIMILO. Indeed, the use of media has proved to be so effective. PSA hired editor/production expert for the production of an in-house magazine. Throughout the implementation period, we produced a total of 5000 copies.

On broadcast, PSA contracted Daljir Radio to facilitate and air Radio talk-shows on adolescent issues and violence abandonment. A total of five programmes were produced.  The topics were: child rights; children abuses and child recruitment. In the same manner, PSA contracted Horn Cable TV to facilitate and Air 2 TV talk-shows.

PSA drafted awareness messages about peace and co-existence and invited project stakeholders to review the messages; which were later on printed on 3 bill boards, 1,000 leaflets, 500 T-shirts and 250 hats. On the other hand, PSA printed 400 LSBE manual as books and distributed to the adolescents.

On 6th June 2013, PSA trained 15 instructors and facilitators as social workers on case management.  The training objectives were to equip key instructors/TOTs and facilitators with skills to understand the practice of case management within child protection programmes. Secondly to enable participants identify issues and gaps in implementation in accordance with remedial measures and in compliance with local and international standards.

  1. Arts/Drawing team

This team were trained on arts skills and provided with materials needed. They compiled ten interesting and captivating drawings, which are displayed on the centre’s walls.  These drawings reflect what the youth think about in a realistic and positive way.

  1. Water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sanitation team

The team from the Carbis skills centre organized a very successful event, and a considerable audience was realized. Given the successful mobilization of youth/adolescents, everything went on as planned. More than 350 adolescents were directly reached with an uncounted number of other people reached through the public addresses in the host community villages, IDPs settlements and community centres within the area. A demonstration of hand washing, household water treatment and safe storage was done. The team members were involved in the demonstrations and rewards were given to various participants who were active in the question – and-answer (Q & A) sessions.

  1. Grants program to the youth organizations and networks

The objective of Puntland Youth and Social Development Association (PSA) is to build and enhance the capacity of youth and adolescents in Puntland region. In the month of October 2013, PSA gave six youth organizations; a youth center as well as youth umbrellas, small grants to facilitate training on life skills based education (LSBE). The grant was also to be used to organize a forum in which the agendas on discussion were on various challenges that the youth do face and what ought to be done. The event was recorded and aired through the media, as an avenue for the relevant agencies to be reached.

On the forum each organization was represented by 20 youths, the study circle methodology was used. In  order to make the forum a participatory  one and all the views and ideas of all participants to  be captured, the subject of debates were on youth agendas, ranging from violence, drugs, education and social life.

  1. First Aid Training

Among the beneficiaries, 25 girls were trained in first aid skills and health education; various techniques on how to save lives were learned. The trainees were later attached to various medical facilities in Bosaso as paramedical apprentices. They have since become skilled practicing first aid attendants. A reward event was held after mid-term exams and those who excelled were rewarded with presents such as exam remarks, sports, competitions, talents, arts and so on. The participants of this event encouraged youth to continue their efforts in terms of education and networking.

  1. Conflict Management and Resolution

Within the reporting period, 65 CARBIS youths were trained in conflict management and resolution to ensure they get ideas on how to peacefully resolve and manage conflict when it occurs. Everyone was grateful to the program and they insisted that same programs and many others be held for it will promote peace and stability in the country. The program will also renew friendly relationship between warring people or groups.