Amina Osman is a young Ugandan of Somali origin volunteering with the refugees and Inter Aid Uganda, an NGO ensuring that refugees in Uganda live in safety and dignity. Her family moved to Uganda from Somalia in 1990, after a civil war ravaged the horn of Africa when she was an infant.
“As a young girl, I always wanted to help the refugees. I grew up hearing about their constant hardships from relatives and this gave me the urge to use my privileges as an educated young girl to make a difference in their lives,” Amina says.
She opens up during a session at a consultative meeting with young people that took place on June 8th at Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID) in preparation for the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees. The meeting, supported by the United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA) brought together young people from both refugees and the host communities to discuss how they can use the opportunity of the Summit to show the world that young people are an asset for inclusive sustainable development of both refugees and host communities.
Amina’s story illustrates that this is possible. “On arrival in Uganda, we were granted refugee status and found the first settlement in Nakulabye in “Kiyindi”( named after the big number of Indians staying there). I am now pursuing my degree in Business computing from Makerere University Business School,” She narrates.
For her having grown up with a refugee background, being able to assist refugees especially young people is something she has always wanted to do from her dreamy days as a young girl.
Last year, Amina signed up for Reach A Hand Uganda (RAHU), Peer Educators Academy, programme which empowers young people with skills and information on livelihoods and skills development, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, as well as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Those who go through this programme for a period of one year because trainers, sharing the skills with their peers.
“The the skills and information I have gained from this programme will facilitate my work with refugees, especially those of my age bracket,” Amina says. “The fact that I am peer educator gives me insight and knowledge, it fuels my passion even more.”
Amina says that working and interacting with young refugee men and women, she has discovered that most of them are willing to integrate and be part of the host community.
“Even when most of them have lost almost everything important to them, their willingness to give life a fresh start is humbling and my drive towards making them feel comfortable while at it. ” she said, with a pensive look on her face. “I admire their ambition and optimism, seeing how eagerly these young refugees are willing to learn something new and blend in their new homes and communities.”
For Amina, the one year she has spent working with refugees she has seen that they have the creativity to come up with a whole new blend of jobs, which she argues can be employment avenues to other young people – both refugees and host communities. This is one way of improving the livelihood of the entire community, thus catalyzing development.
According to UNHCR Uganda is experiencing the fastest growing refugee crisis in the World, with over 1.2 million refugees and far reaching economic and social impact. A big population of them are young people. From Amina’s account, there lies a lot of potential for social economic development.