Hibaaq’s volunteering spirit is rubbing off
Convinced of the value of shared, voluntary action to bring about change in her country, Hibaaq is volunteering tirelessly to influence other young people to join her.
"Where I grew up, women volunteerism is not encouraged," says Hibaaq Larry, 33, from Hargeisa, Somaliland. "It was very stressful to help other female and youth groups to access their right to decent lives." But this didn’t put Hibaaq Larry off and she has played a vital role in encouraging women to get involved in youth-led initiatives in her country.
Hibaaq Larry could see the benefits which would come from volunteering, and joined Tawasul Youth Group to provide a service within the community and raise local funds through social media, to help street children in Somaliland. She also co-founded a social enterprise at Inspire Groups, focusing on social-economic development in Africa, and now serves as its CEO. Closer to home, Hibaaq Larry set up volunteering activities to mobilize direct action support for Internally Displaced People in Hargeisa during rainy seasons, by giving them temporary shelter and food stuffs.
Spreading the spirit!
Hibaaq Larry’s volunteering spirit spread to Somaliland’s other main towns, Berbera and Burao. By harnessing social networks and building stronger links with peer groups, she has reached influential people in these towns so that they have also come on board to promote community volunteering. In Hargeisa, giving voice to voiceless women and youths has been at the forefront of her campaigning.
These successes have not come easy. Hibaaq Larry lived through many setbacks in her challenge to inspire significant changes in Somaliland youth. She had to be determined to overcome cultural barriers and prejudices about her work, and be persistent when faced with apathy among the communities she sought to help. Years passed, but Hibaaq Larry never let go of her dream of a better life for everyone in the town. For three years while studying at high school, she worked tirelessly to advocate for low-income families and women to get access to their fundamental rights.
People supporting each other
Hibaaq Larry’s determination paid off; she has reached 2,000 low-income families across Somaliland, enabling them to get basic food and shelter. "We should create an environment where people can support one another and raise local funds together to buy clothes and food for poor children and mothers,” she says.
"Volunteering builds spirits and brings happiness to our soul; that is why I always find myself doing this. Youth activism is my favourite work,” she continues, “because I interact with lots of youth daily. When youth join hands together, I believe they can easily fight against all social ills.”
Thinking big to make change
Hibaaq Larry is a change-maker and a passionate influencer who is committed to improving the lives of vulnerable communities in Somaliland. Her dream is to become a global leader for volunteer work so that she leads digital campaigns against hunger and injustice, and empowers youths to act – a future where the gap between rich and poor people is closed, and all types of inequalities are addressed.
“There is a great hope that volunteerism will make a huge difference in the lives of youth,” Hibaaq Larry says enthusiastically. “Volunteerism is an integral part of our society and nation-building. I believe thousands of lives will be saved from the ashes of wars, poverty and hunger when youth realize their untapped potential to serve voluntarily for their communities.”
Hibaaq Larry‘s story is part of the multiyear campaign, kicked off on International Youth Day 2019 by the Empower Youth for Work program and the Work in Progress! alliance. The campaign aims to support the national influencing work of the respective programs by joining forces with local role models. The ripples of #Iwasthere are spreading out around the world and these stories are proof that change can happen anywhere – we hope they will inspire you, too, to become an active citizen.
Why these stories?
There are more young people today than ever before in the history of the world; 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 worldwide, and 90% of them live in low-income countries. . Harnessing the energy and strength of young women and men to become active citizens is core to Oxfam's goal of transformational change.
With their energy, skills and creativity, young people have the potential to be the driving force for social change, strong economies and vibrant democracies.
Oxfam is working jointly with youth to challenge barriers that prevent them from
Enjoying their rights
Participating fully in society
Being an effective voice in decision-making processes
How youthful dreams become reality.
These stories are proof that change can happen anywhere -
to inspire you to become an active citizen.
- The Netherlands
“Development is more than just economy or infrastructure, it’s all about humans.”
“As activists, we have to be patient. Without patience we can’t do anything, we just struggle.”
Jesse van Schaik
“I hope other people think ‘if she can do it, then I can do it, and then it won’t be that hard.’”
“Youths must work every day to be the change they want to see.”
“The only thing that I cannot do, is child bearing and breast feeding. This is not naturally gifted to men!”
“My goal was to capture the essence of the vital advocacy work that goes on within powerful institutions. But in a light and approachable way.”
“We are young, we are prepared. We have many things to do.”
“The biggest challenge wasn’t informing them about modern farming techniques but persuading them to abandon outdated methods”
“Work is never defined for men and women, it is us who creates this differentiation. There are lots of people in rural areas who are not getting enough medical support, I want to do something more for their advancement by engaging the youth of our community.”
“Fear is not part of my life. I conquer the fear itself.”
“I did not have any computer knowledge prior to this time; I only used computers for watching movies!”
“We should create an environment where people can support one another and raise local funds together to buy clothes and food for poor children and mothers.”
“Work ethics and character are equally important as you cannot earn a living out of talent alone.”
“I believe young women have the capacity to change their lives if they are provided with a safe environment and support from their family, community, and government.”
“Once we overcame our initial hurdles, we felt confident about managing more events, and soon established a good reputation in the city.”
“Even if a person supports you and teaches you how to do a thing, without passion on your part, it’s a ‘NO’!”
“Without a book on my lap every day, I don’t know where I would have reached today. One day I will realize my dream of bringing all Sahil people into the library.”
Habiba believes that other women and girls will be inspired by seeing her at work.
“Seeing my success, many people are now convinced it’s OK to assist women.”
“We aim, one day, to scale up our start-up to a national level”
He started working from home to save money, providing computer support to the community, especially women.
“The beauty parlour industry is exploitative, and because women workers lack awareness about their rights, they pose little to no resistance to unfair work policies.”
“Poetry is art and expression, and has been in my blood since my childhood. If you want people to develop their country, young people are the starting point – they have the drive and stamina to pioneer changes”
To ensure the continued success of her business, she keeps up with the latest fashion trends online, adjusting them for the cultural and religious tastes of her clients.