Youth unemployment can cause frustration and a loss of confidence in Wales. In Somaliland it can be a matter of life and death as young people risk their lives by taking to sea in search of a better life.
Ali Abdi, community educator and board member for SEF Cymru is part of a partnership, supported by Hub Cymru Africa and funded by Welsh Government, to enable young people to forge a new future by to setting up their own enterprises.
Ali’s ambition is to help young people realise theirs: “Here are two nations, full of young people wanting to play a part. The idea to bring together sixty young people from Somaliland, and thirty from Wales, came from discussions within both communities. They are different continents but the problems are similar; there’s high youth unemployment and when people aren’t actively included they feel powerless and find other, less positive, avenues to go down.”
So far, Wales Somaliland Youth Links’ programme has recruited 90 young people to receive customised training in ICT, labour law, soft business skills, financial management and community development.
“Our drive in both nations is to create entrepreneurs. If you can’t get a job, you can create it. This is the essence of our programme. My role is to champion their ideas and ambitions. This week I brought together an aspiring designer from Butetown, full of ideas, and the Prince’s Trust to discuss a start-up grant. I’m promoting existing opportunities to our communities and vice versa, to make sure we are included.”
Beyond the inclusion agenda, there’s also a genuine friendship between the young people in Cardiff and in Somaliland.
Sailors from Somaliland first settled in Tiger Bay 100 years ago and there is still a community between the continents as technology developments make miles disappear in the MegaBytes.
“With WhatsApp, these groups can send voice messages to each other simply and easily. They can share their frustrations about being overlooked by their communities, and then they move beyond them and plan together for the days ahead.”
Friendships are blooming and have spurred Cardiff’s young people to turn their new-found entrepreneurial skills to raise funds to assist with famine efforts in Somaliland.
Charity football matches, car washes, pop-up food stalls and family fun-days are the agenda set by these young people clamouring to make a difference with all funds raised going directly to relieve the impact of drought.
Rageh Omaar’s devastating report brought the situation of Somaliland’s famine onto our screens last week.
The country has been starved of rain for more than three years, leaving over half of Somaliland’s 18 million livestock dead and people, children especially, are at risk of a massive humanitarian crisis.
Ali’s community of young people in Cardiff are now rallying to put their efforts to support their peers in Somaliland as they face the worst drought in living memory. The drought is made worse by the fact that Somaliland, is not recognised by the international community as an independent nation to Somalia.
Ali’s energy to challenge the status quo and mentor young people and see them become active parts of their community is infectious.
Reflecting on the two year project supported by the Welsh Government funded Hub Cymru Africa partnership, he says: “Too often [they are] seen as inexperienced and incompetent. This is a starting point to challenge the discrimination they feel from their own communities.”
Working with people across the youth development community, from businesses, places of worship, charities, government initiatives and social services, Ali’s whole approach is “don’t do for anybody what they can’t do for themselves.”
And if you want to live in Cardiff and want to support this venture, why not take your car or your bike for a wash at Butetown’s Paddle Steamer Café from 2pm on Friday afternoons throughout April? Get involved as young people take action, lift their aspirations and stand shoulder to shoulder with their friends in need.