Dadaab camp in Kenya's Northeastern Region hosts diverse nationalities, including a large contingent of refugees from Somalia. The growing refugee population and lack of resources are placing a strain on peaceful coexistence. Refugees rely heavily on aid, lacking self-reliance and participation. Amid these challenges, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is using Refugee UN Volunteers to empower youth and support refugees in building a better life. Meet Aliya Mohamed Kosar and Adow Mohamed Ibrahim.
Aliya Mohamed Kosar, Refugee UN Volunteer Youth Community Service Assistant with UNHCR
Aliya is dedicated to empowering vulnerable individuals and communities, with a focus on addressing the unique challenges faced by youth. Born in Somalia, her first-hand understanding of marginalized communities fuels her commitment to supporting those at risk in improving their lives.
Aliya's assignment involves conducting assessments of youth programmes, identifying areas for improvement, and filling programmatic gaps. She also organizes focus group discussions to gather insights from youth and propose actionable solutions to address their challenges.
In addition to coordinating the Youth Working Group, Aliya facilitates meetings and builds collaboration among stakeholders involved in youth-related initiatives. Her assessments have resulted in tailoring youth programming to the specific needs of vulnerable youth, ensuring access to relevant services and opportunities for personal and educational development. Through focus group discussions, Aliya has included the voices of youth in decision-making processes, resulting in recommendations that shape interventions and policies.
UNHCR acknowledges Aliya's dedication and expertise, recognizing the impact she and other personnel have in delivering effective programmes and services for refugees and displaced populations.
Aliya's unwavering commitment to empowering vulnerable youth has been instrumental to our programme's success. Her assessments, reports and coordination efforts have greatly improved our initiatives and the lives of the youth we serve. --John Smith, Programme Manager with UNHCR and Aliya’s supervisor
For Aliya, volunteering has been a transformative experience that has allowed her to create positive change in the lives of others. Her deep sense of empathy and fulfillment comes from empowering and supporting young individuals to overcome challenges and realize their potential.
As World Refugee Day approaches, I call on you to stand in solidarity with refugees, promote their rights and work towards sustainable solutions for displacement. I believe that by working together to support the most vulnerable, we can create a brighter future for all. --Aliya Mohamed Kosar, Refugee UN Volunteer Youth Community Service Assistant with UNHCR, Kenya
Adow Mohamed Ibrahim, Refugee UN Volunteer Youth Community Services Assistant with UNHCR
In Dadaab camp, Adow addresses challenges and create opportunities for young people. His aim is to promote their well-being and peaceful coexistence in the camp. Collaborating closely with UNHCR, partners and the youth community, Adow delivers services and drives positive change. He received the UN Volunteer Award in 2021 in recognition of his efforts.
Adow assesses the effectiveness of youth programmes and identifies gaps, making recommendations to enhance programming and supporting special youth-related projects. He engages in discussions with youth to understand pressing issues like documentation, service delivery, migration and education for young mothers.
As part of his role, Adow establishes and coordinates Youth Working Groups, improving cooperation and unity among youth in the camp. "Despite challenges, volunteering remains a driving force for progress," Adow explains. "Now, the youth of Dadaab have a greater say in decision-making processes related to youth programming."
Additionally, he promotes volunteerism by organizing fora and discussions, engaging young people in the camp in voluntary activities like cleaning campaigns and COVID-19 awareness raising. Adow bridges the language barrier by translating vital information on COVID-19 and protection measures from English to Somali. This ensures better understanding and dispels rumors that could endanger lives.
Adow believes that volunteering has transformative benefits for both the community and individuals. It fosters engagement, skill development and a sense of fulfillment. Witnessing the positive impact on others motivates Adow to continue.
On this World Refugee Day, it is crucial to recognize that refugees, when given rights and opportunities, contribute positively to economic development. Through our collective efforts, we can empower refugees, particularly youth, to forge stronger and more inclusive communities, thus fostering peaceful coexistence. --Adow Mohamed Ibrahim, Refugee UN Volunteer Youth Community Services Assistant with UNHCR, Kenya