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.