The Tillmaame Youth Centre, a permanent youth-friendly centre, is now fully operational in Garowe, Puntland State of Somalia. The Ministry of Youth in Puntland launched the centre on 4 September 2019 to provide holistic adolescent reproductive health services, information and entrepreneurship skills training to adolescents and youth. UNFPA Somalia provided financial support towards the construction and establishment of the centre, which is the first of its kind in the region.
Up to 1452 of youth have benefited so far from the diverse services being offered since its establishment.
The youth centre was launched as part of accelerating the promise of International Conference of Population and Development (ICPD) and reaffirming sustainable development and as one of the events leading to the ICPD25 Summit in Nairobi, Kenya which took place from 12 to 14 November 2019.
The center provides health services such as family planning, screening and treatment of sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs), counselling and emotional support for GBV survivors. It also offers working space for young people, provides short assignments of work, trained mentors who support the building of curriculum vitae, job application and guide for job interviews.
“The Tilmaame Youth Center aims to harness the full potential of adolescents and youth through the provision of free education and vocational training for marginalized adolescent girls and boys, life skills training and library services,” said UNFPA Somalia Deputy Representative Mr. Walter Mendonca-Filho at the opening ceremony for the centre. “UNFPA Somalia is very happy with the centre as it will be instrumental in ensuring better health and skills building for the youth,” he added.
The Vice of Puntland State of Somalia His Excellency Ahmed Elmi Karash officially inaugurated the center. He thanked UNFPA Somalia and its donors for the establishment of the youth centre.
“This is such a great initiative. I would like to emphasize on the need to sustain and maintain the center so that it continues to offer excellent opportunities for Puntland youth,” said the Vice President.
The Head of Cooperation of Embassy of Finland in Nairobi Ms. Karita Laisi also said she was impressed with the centre and its potential to contribute to the peace building process in Somalia.
The chairman of Puntland Youth Association Network (PYAN) Libaan Mohamud applauded the establishment of the youth centre and called on government, donors and then UN to establish similar centers in other main towns of Puntland.
The launching event was also attended by high-ranking government officials; including ministers of Labor, Youth and Sports, Health, Commerce, Planning, Economic Development and International Cooperation and the commander of police.
The event comprised presentations on culture and arts from the famous Mahuraan Youth Band, who showcased inspirational songs that resonate with youth in Puntland as they touching on topical issues such as dangers of illegal migration, problems of Sexual Gender-Based Violence and untapped natural resources of the state, and the role of youth in transforming Puntland to thrive towards prosperity and economic development.
The popular Maslaxo Drama Team, which consists of young actors that mainly rely on theatre-based education techniques to reach out to young people to convey sensitive messages on harmful practices, also made performances on child and forced marriages, family planning and FGM.
During the event, the team presented an awareness drama that touches current issues of FGM, such as shifting to the less severe Sunna type, issues of medicalization and the role of young people in shaping the society into the positive culture of respecting human rights and moving away from barbaric acts.
According to UNFPA population estimation survey conducted in the year 2014, thirty eight percent (around 4.6million) of the Somali population is young, aged between 15 to 35 while only 45 percent of the youth 2.5 million between the age 15-35 years can read and write. Youth in Somalia face numerous challenges including high unemployment rate at 67 percent; child marriage prevalence is also high at 18 percent for females and 11 percent for males, coupled by high maternal mortality 732/100,000.
Despite the above-mentioned challenges, young people lack youth platforms to promote healthy living among their peers, spaces for job creation and space to build confidence and attain employable skills.
The Youth Peer Network and Tilmaame Youth center initiative is part of UNFPA Youth Programme that aims to increase the capacity of youth partners to design and implement comprehensive programmes to reach marginalized youth, including adolescent girls at risk of child marriage. The new Youth resource center contributes attainment of UNFPA’s new corporate strategy “My Body, My Life, My World” Rights and Choices for all Adolescents and Youth. This new strategy puts young people; their talents, hopes, perspectives and unique needs, at the very center of sustainable development.