Abubakar Omar aka Ramos is one of our Interfaith Dialogue catalysts based in Mombasa, Kenya. He grew up in Mwandoni area kisauni constituency Mombasa county Ramos grew up loving football won lots of prizes in football but most of all he won the provisional league with westham and advanced to nationwide competitions. But just like any other youth his hobbies are swimming and socialising with other people.
Ramos 26, is also a youth leader in Kisauni in Mombasa. With a passion for social work, he has been able to help so many young people in his community. After undergoing the Interfaith dialogue training in countering violent extremism training by the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, he made a quest to identify ways to improve the lives of other young people in his community who were at risk of joining violent extremist groups or those exposed to recidivism. He identified these youth and was able to create youth groups where together with his friends would meet occasionally to discuss the issues affecting them and would identify solutions. Having trained in financial sales, Ramos used his skills to train the youth on financial matters, how to create CVs as well as showing them how to access and apply for government funds that would help them start their own businesses. This has helped the youth in his community as it keeps them from bad company.
Among other things he also engages donors to come and dig boreholes in their communities and so far with his help four boreholes have been dug to supply the communities with clean water. He has helped some of the youth in enrolling in vocational trainings and 8 of them are already finalizing their courses.
When asked what sort of activities he engages youth who are rehabilitating from crime or drugs, he said `Whenever there’s a forum or an event and I’m given slots I make sure youth attend so that they can avoid crime and drugs, we organize football tournaments to create peace and tranquillity. I also engage different leaders to share different platforms or money channels like youth funds affirmative actions to help the youths, together we participate in community work for good relations e.g area cleaning or beach cleaning’
“Africa is the most youthful continent with about 65% of the total population below the age of 35 years. By 2020, it is projected that out of 4 people, 3 will be on average 20 years old. The Africa Alliance of YMCAs seeks to empower youth all over Africa through the Pan-African youth transformational program. The future of young people in Africa is determined by the networks of informed youth rising up and making a change in their lives and communities to create a better Africa.
The young people we work with come from tough backgrounds, it is not always an easy road but someone has to give them a chance because youth join gangs for various reasons — for money, a sense of support and belonging, status, a perceived sense of protection, or to exhibit an outlaw mentality — multiple strategies are needed to lessen the attractions.
Community partnerships are crucial to reducing the attraction of gangs; these should include youth, their families, law enforcement, public health, schools, faith-based organizations, and groups that offer recreational programs, employment and job-training skills.
Deliberate effort is needed to counter the attractions of gangs that are often perpetuated among youth, in families, in neighborhoods and in the media; working with youth like Abubakar Omar with the right level of motivation and a commitment to evidence-based strategies, we can do many things to help prevent our youth from joining violent extremist groups.