A visionary group of Canadian Somali youth has been providing their peers with inspiration and guidance as part of the Somali Canadian Youth Mentorship Program. It's a program that aims to connect young people with successful professionals and university students in Ottawa. Ifrah Hassan spoke with the Muslim Link's Amira Elghawaby about the initiative.
Too many times I hear people say “youth are not engaged enough in the community''. For young community leaders like Ahmed Sadiq, the chairman and head of the Assalam Mosque Youth Department, that undoubtedly is not the case.
When Ahmed saw a need for a program focused on Ottawa's young Muslims, he sprang into action. In December 2011, Assalam Mosque's Youth Department, along with a group of young, dedicated volunteers, including myself, organized the first annual “Go Halal or Go Home'' Youth Winter Conference.
This year, I was back for more, trekking all the way from the west-end to the east-end to commit my time to a “for youth by youth” initiative that I feel recognizes the real needs of Muslim youth like myself, who in our teens and early twenties, are struggling to balance the pressures of our daily lives with our deen.
Almost everybody, at different points in their lives, thinks about their legacy and the type of impact they have made on their family, friends and community. Each individual's legacy is different but one simple fact remains the same: we all leave one. My father, Abdullahi Hassan Eyow, left a lasting legacy of compassion and sacrifice that is now felt immensely everywhere he has lived. As a Somali refugee, he knew how fortunate he was to escape the instability and conflict that has plagued Somalia for the last 21 years, yet he never forgot the shattered communities he left behind.
For Mohamed Sofa, helping and serving others is simply second nature.
So it came as no surprise to his friends and family when the Somali-born community activist and community builder was awarded the Mayor's City Builder Award.
In the 15 years since he arrived in Ottawa as a refugee, Mr. Sofa, now 29 years old, has helped initiate and implement dozens of community projects, including homework clubs, soccer teams, basketball leagues, sports nights, and celebrations for youth.