Disabled youth in Mogadishu find new opportunities through skills training


Having lost both his legs in two separate accidents, Abdirahman Mohamed Idris, 25, finally feels he can live independently after receiving computer skills training and getting a job as a data analyst in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Abdirahman was among 20 young people living with varying disabilities selected for a skills development programme by local NGO, Hana Academy Institute, that is trying to tackle the problem of youth unemployment.

He has been working with local organisation Somalia Research for three months earning $300 a month, which supports himself and his wife and enabled to them move into their own place.

“You get experience from work. It is also important to work and get noticed for it,” he said. “Now I am able to pay my own rent, electricity and everything else.”

Abdirahman and his four siblings lost their father when they were young and were raised by their mother hawking vegetables. He lost his legs in two separate accidents.

“I fell from a tree and broke my leg when I was 10, which led to the doctors amputating my leg. I lost my other leg in 2019 while I was in the mosque and a car lost control, causing the building to collapse on my other leg. I now have metal implants in my leg to support me. You can imagine losing my other leg, it was devastating,” he explained.

His family moved to Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya in 2010 after fleeing conflict in Elasha-biyaha, Middle Shabelle, and were voluntarily repatriated to Somalia in 2017 when Abdirahman completed secondary school.

His opportunity has motivated him to give back to society and he teaches free Koranic and school lessons to IDP families in Deynile district.

“I was a student before I got the training and job. I now want to help my family and give back the education I got. I teach students at night. When people come to the school and talk about their difficult situation I teach them for free,” he said.

Another Hana Academy trainee was Abdirisak Abdullahi Mohamed, 24, who was trained for three months in repairing mobile phones and works in Bakara market in Mogadishu.

He lost both his hands when he was barely a year old in a fire that broke out in their house.

“When I started this job, everyone was thinking how would I be able to do it. One person said I couldn’t do it while another assured me that I could, so I was confused. But I would tell myself that even if I couldn’t do it I would gain experience, although in the end I adapted to the job. I was among the best students,” said Abdirisak.

His family are pastoralists from Gal-hareri district in Galgadud and he moved to Mogadishu looking for a better life. After a two-year hunt for a job, he is now earning $200 to $300 a month and has moved out of his uncle’s house.

“The money was very important for me, I don’t have to think about things I need. I use my income to do a lot of things including supporting my family and paying my own bills. I now have choices and I get many things I want. I don’t need to burden my parents to support me.”

Abdirisak sends $100 to 150 to his family while also taking care of his own needs.

The founding director of Hana Academy Institute, Sadiyo Siyad, said they posted the call for trainees with disabilities for the first time on their social media and received applications from young people prevented from accessing opportunities by various disabilities.

They offered them course in computer software, electrical wiring, welding, construction, sewing, and henna painting.

“There are difficulties in the country, the best way to help people is by giving them education and job opportunities,” Sadiyo said. “The applicants chose what they want to pursue. We help them even after their contracts end to find other jobs and investment.”

The vocational training centre was established in 2015 and has trained 6,000 young people in skills for employment.