Monthly Archives: October 2017

Painting a new chapter of their lives

Teenager Said Qays Abdulkadir concentrates, paintbrush in hand, as he works on a pattern on a section of wall during his painting class at the Skills Production Centre in Hargeisa, Somaliland. In a separate side of the room, Ahmed Qays Abdulkadir chats with his classmates as they prepare to paint a different section of the wall.

Said, 17, and Ahmed, 18, are brothers from Yemen. They came to Hargeisa, Somaliland, in 2015 with their three sisters and parents, fleeing the conflict in their country. “Life before the conflict as we knew it has drastically changed. My brother and I were students at Al- Basatiin School. Our grandmother was killed in the war and we saw many people die or get injured. We spent the first two months in Somaliland at the refugee camp in Bosaso. We were really scared,” says Said. Living as refugees is not how they had imagined their lives would turn out.

Said and Ahmed are two of 25 students aged between 14 and 25 who concluded a 6-month course in painting at the Skills Production Centre (SPC) in December 2017. Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) manages the SPC, with support from UNHCR.

Said (left) and Ahmed getting ready for a practical session

“Refugee committees and local community representatives helped us to mobilize students for this inaugural painting class that kicked off in July 2017. Our curriculum covers topics on types of paints, lighting effects, how to mix colours, cement mixing, how to fix holes on walls using putty and how to use brushes or squeegees,” says painting course instructor Jamal Mohammed Ibrahim.

Said (right) trying out a stencil design with a fellow student

Their father, Qays Abdulkadir, qualified for an AAH-I business grant in 2016 and operates a taxi business in Hargeisa.

The Skills Production Centre Funded by UNHCR is part of AAH-I’s ‘Integrated approach to promote, increase social self-reliance, livelihood opportunities among Returnee and Returnee hosting communities’ project. This project seeks to promote and increase social self-reliance and socio economic well-being of refugees and Somali returnees in Somaliland. Among other interventions, the project seeks to address the skills gap and capital needs by supporting the youth to develop vocational production skills and equip them with business skills.

Said (left) and Ahmed at the Peaceful Coexistence Centre just before they received their certificates in painting

The SPC is supporting global efforts of substantially increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship by 2030, as highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goal number 4 of quality education. This effort is aligned to the UNHCR Livelihoods Framework 2014 – 2018, and it will be a reflection in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in which Somalia is a pilot country. Bar/liquid soap making, tailoring, plumbing and electrical installation are other courses offered at the SPC.

Providing the youth with information regarding their sexuality

The Peer Project (TPP) (formerly Maridi Health Science Peer Project) is a youth initiative by students from Maridi School of Nursing and Midwifery and from the National Health Training Institute. TPP focuses on providing young people with information about sexual and reproductive health. The project has gained ground in Maridi since its inception in 2014, where HIV prevalence rates were rising.

A learning session in Maridi

Action Africa Help International’s (AAH-I) regional primary health care project in Maridi has been working in partnership with TPP to build staff capacity and to support their campaigns and initiatives. Through this partnership, community mobilization has been enhanced in Maridi, with special attention to HIV testing and counselling among the youth with an overall goal to reduce viral load readings to undetectable levels. To date, over 685 youths have been tested and counselled for HIV, and close to 24,000 community members reached with messages on HIV/AIDs through radio programmes and outreaches. Patients who test positive are enrolled at the antiretroviral treatment centres in the AAH-I-supported Maridi State Hospital.

“TPP is a model set to provide the youth with information regarding their sexuality to enable them make informed decisions. TPP membership is vast with a growing network of peer educators all over South Sudan. Our partnership with the peer project has seen the establishment of seven straight talk clubs in various secondary schools in Maridi and subsequent training of 48 peer educators drawn from the schools, civil society organizations, community-based organizations and groups that support youth out of school,” says AAH-I’s Dr. Mustafa Ahmed, TPP Project Coordinator and Founder.

Youth attending a TPP session

TPP was part of the steering committee in the formation of the Network of Aids Services Organizations in South Sudan (NASOSS). The project has also participated in the development of the South Sudan Monitoring and Evaluation master plan for monitoring HIV/AIDs service provision. Peter Garang, a TPP student coordinator was nominated by NASOSS to represent South Sudan in the International Conference on AIDs and STIs in Africa from 4th to 9th December 2017 in Cote d’Ivoire.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has recognized TPP’s efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDs in South Sudan. Recently, UNAIDs donated shirts, caps, fliers and posters for the commemoration of the World Aids Day.

AAH-I reiterates its commitment to working with communities towards such high impact initiatives. Maridi School of Nursing and Midwifery is run by AAH-I, while the National Health Training Institute is run by AMREF.