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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.  

Reaching out 

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. 

Photo credit: Hamda Sulub

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.  

Overcoming setbacks 

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. 

Photo credit: Hassan

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.” 

Photo credit: Hassan

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