Yusuf Bilow Isaq, a 41-year-old toothbrush salesman at the K5 intersection in Mogadishu, said he cannot afford to spend money on education when his family is struggling. “My eldest child has not More »
A few months ago, I was riding in a cab from Seattle’s First Avenue to Capitol Hill. As we rose up Seattle’s steeply graded streets, I recognized the music on the driver’s More »
IIDA has been involved in various peace building initiatives such disarmament programs among the youth and other programs in enhancing
good neighborhood in Somalia
IIDA Women’s Development Organization
IIDA (Women’s Development Organization) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1991 in Mogadishu by a group of Somalia women leaders to promote women’s political, economic and social rights.
At IIDA, we believe that people are the drivers of change and the custodians of their own destinies and work to mobilize the community and encourage the beneficiaries of our development programs to take ownership of the projects. It is these beliefs that inspire us to formulate women led programs that are geared towards making a lasting impression on the lives of Somalia women both at home and in the Diaspora.
Today, IIDA is operationally the largest grassroots movement in Somalia, and is represented in different regions of the country such as Lower and Middle Shabelle, Banadir Galgaduud, Bay and Bakool, and continues to work towards fostering sustainable development.
Our youth program is born out of the realization that the youth are agents of change whose futures are at stake. Somalia lacks the necessary institutional structures that provide opportunities for education and employment, making it difficult to instill the essential values and mechanisms in the youth that promote positive human growth and development. Somali youths are now growing up having had little or no interaction with formal institutions, with many having no living memory of a functioning state.
Yusuf Bilow Isaq, a 41-year-old toothbrush salesman at the K5 intersection in Mogadishu, said he cannot afford to spend money on education when his family is struggling.
“My eldest child has not been to school in his 15 years and his younger siblings are even worse off because there are no free schools,” he told Sabahi. “I cannot afford school fees because the most I make in a day is 100 shillings, which cannot cover more than the bare necessities of the family.”
Even though private schools helped fill the education vacuum after the collapse of the central government in 1991, they have not been financially accessible to many families like Isaq’s. As a result, many children in the Somali capital have to forgo getting an education.
“Whenever you are in Mogadishu, you see hundreds of children on the streets,” Isaq said. “They are not in school because their families cannot afford school fees that cost as much as $10 a month. If a family has five or six children and pays for one child to go to school, the rest of the children have to stay at home.”
Mohamed Yaqub is a 45-year-old father of seven in Mogadishu. He told Sabahi he provides for his family as a porter, and is equipped with a handcart donated by a non-profit agency.
A few months ago, I was riding in a cab from Seattle’s First Avenue to Capitol Hill. As we rose up Seattle’s steeply graded streets, I recognized the music on the driver’s radio. I asked him where he was from, and he answered wearily, “Somalia.” He’d had this conversation before.
He became more interested when we realized that both of us had lived in Kenya. I was headed back in a few weeks to pursue a career in journalism; he was going for a visit in a few months.
“What are you going to do when you get back?” I asked.
“You know”, he said, “chew some khat (a natural stimulant illegal in the United States), visit some friends, see my family.”
More than a million people make up the Somali diaspora worldwide, meaning that 14 percent of Somalis live outside their home country. Somalia has been in a state of civil war since 1991 when the government effectively dissolved, leaving a power vacuum that has created one of the most violent and unstable places in the world.
Much of the population has been forced to flee, usually first to neighboring Kenya, and then to other countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States.
According to a United Nations Development Report, the greater Seattle area hosts the third largest population of Somali refugees in the United States.
When I mention my hometown in other parts of Nairobi, I get a blank stare; maybe a vague reference to “Grey’s Anatomy.” But in Eastleigh, where Nairobi’s Somali population is concentrated, faces light up at the mention of Seattle. I often hear, “My brother/cousin/best friend/mother lives in Seattle!”
“Seattle is in the north of America. It is very, very hot and life is very good!” says a young Somali refugee named Abdigani, sitting in an Eastleigh cafe. At least he has two out of three facts right.