African Volunteers for Relief and Development (AVORD) is a promising emerging Somali organization. Its philosophy is based on the understanding that local communities have inherent capacities to develop if they are equipped with the necessary skills. In-line with this philosophy, AVORD is helping young people by training them on various skills that are highly sought by local markets.
One of the key challenges impeding Somalia’s recovery from decades of anarchy and violence is the alarming high unemployment. According to UNDP, the unemployment rate amongst the youth in 2012 was 67% across the country. With an estimate population of 172,000, Beledweyne has a thousands of unemployed youth and scores of them are evident in the streets throughout the day. In an effort to address this, AVORD carried out a labour market survey which showed that skills related to construction industry were required in Beledweyne, the largest town in Hiran region.
With Stability Fund assistance, and in collaboration with community leaders, local authority, private sector and other stakeholders in Beledweyne, AVORD established Tawakal Vocational Training Center. On October 1st 2014, the center was stocked with highly qualified trainers and the necessary equipment. Over the past four months, 210 youth selected from the different backgrounds of society attended the training program, they were exposed to extensive theoretical and practical sessions, covering four areas including masonry, metal fabrication, carpentry and electrical installation.
Gradually, their lives are being transformed from living in the streets with no meaningful activities to productive lives with skills to envision a better future with a whole new world of opportunities. Mohidiin Mohamed Hassan, 22-years old, attends the electrical installation course. In a recent interview with the project manager, he discussed how this project has positively impacted his life. “Before I came here, I was quite desperate and my future appeared too uncertain. Every day I woke up, not knowing what to do or where to go next.” Mohidiin’s family, like many students at the center could not afford to pay for schooling therefore missed the opportunity to get an education.
“I felt I have a sense of purpose and a clear direction of where I am heading to“, Mohidiin said. Upon completion of this training, Mohidiin, like others at the center will not only sustain himself but will be in a position to support his family as well. Tawakal center has become a hub in Beledweyne, a place where contractors and private organisations come to recruit skilled workers. Mohidiin, is one of 12 trainees who have been offered a part-time job opportunity while in training by Dayah Power Supply, a local Somali company.
The six-month training program will end this month. To ensure sustainability AVORD plans to establish a social enterprise to serve Somalia’s growing construction industry. The enterprise will play a critical role in rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed by war while creating jobs for its graduates.
In partnership with the Stability Fund, AVORD is contributing to improve local stability by creating alternative income sources for young people – helping to give them some better prospects in life. As the center grows, Abdinasir Nur, the project manager is enthusiastic and hopeful to leave a lasting impact on the target youth. “We have adapted a different approach in this project whereby youth are not only trained but also provided with continuous mentoring and coaching as they commercialize the acquired skills” Abdinasir said, adding that the entire project team and the AVORD family are determined to sustain the project outcome in the years ahead. AVORD intends to bolster the local economy through business development and continues to expand the local skilled workforce in Beledweyne, to ensure the center becomes a viable local construction service provider.