Hope Lies in the Horn- Exclusive Interview Part 1

Do you often find yourself thinking "How can I bring change?".  Well, you aren't alone! We interviewed a few individuals who are inspiring, motivating, and changing communities. From Somalia to Australia, here's a little glimpse into the lives of souls determined to  bring change. 

Hodan Nalayeh. Founder of Integration TV, Canada.

What Inspired you to create Integration TV?

I grew up in Canada all my life and never knew much about Somalia. Although, I could understand the Somali language, it was very difficult for me to speak and write it. I made a commitment to learn my culture after visiting Dadaab Refugee Camp in 2011 as a volunteer. It was during this period in my life that I realized there is an entire generation of Somalis like myself. They love being Somali, but they lack language & cultural skills. I wanted to create a platform where they could understand, but still learn everything about being Somali and Somalia.

How are you using this platform to bring change and What is next for IntegrationTV?

I went back to school to learn Broadcast Journalism and later developed this platform. Integration TV is the first English Somali TV. It was simple idea to bring an entire community together online via YouTube.  Somalis are scattered around the world and speak many languages, English may be the most common language they share since we have an entire generation losing their language in the last 25 years. Integration TV is unique because it utilizes the power of social media to bring social change. In our research, we have found Somali youth do not watch TV, they are on social media even inside of Somalia. They connect with us because we speak their language of change. They have hope and want progress! They are not interested in politics, but prosperity. This is the Somali audience of the future. Young people who have no clan affiliations or regional boundaries. They are seeking success and we are their platform. We showcase amazing Somalis who have achieved in their fields, stories that connect people in the heart and cultural icons they may not know. Somali youth in the Diaspora are connecting with Somali youth back home for the first time since we broadcast shows from Somalia also.

This is a great achievement to help two different cultured Somali youths see their commonality.

We are finally seeing how much we share in culture and struggles of being in the west.

Our program also gives people outside of the Somali community to see and understand our hidden culture. In our broadcast on Canadian TV, we are seeing a shift in the perception of Somalis in mainstream media since our debut last year.

Site: http://www.integrationtv.com  Watch on Youtube Friend on Facebook Follow on Twitter  Produced by Cultural Integration Agency, Inc. 

I am Abdirashid Mohamed Dahir and I reside in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was born in Gardo, a town in northeastern Somalia where I used to study at schools at times when the country was languishing in internecine conflict; nonetheless there was a hope that ‘Somalia will regain its pride and dignity sooner than later’. I have more responsibilities and a lot of dreams to fulfill sometime in the near future, God Willing.

(wow! We love his mentality!... okay back to the interview!)

We are all tasked with making Somalia ‘great again’ and i am convinced this is a visible goal in the pipeline for everyone including me. To be very frank, I am hobbyist in the field of civil engineering. I like cumbersome computations and of course how we can drive a lot from the nature, just imagine and portray in your mind: designing from skyscrapers to condors, roads resting typically on flat terrain through tunnels and unlocking the vast hydropower potential of Somalia. I shouldn’t forget that internationally acclaimed engineers since the field varies by time are role model for me.

 What does Hope mean to you? 

Hope really means so much. To me anything is possible in Somalia and let’s put faith in our country. Hope in Somalia, means we can live our life without despair. Indeed, in tribute to all, never ever give up on the beautiful country, Somalia.

 What Role do Youth play in the development of Somalia?

Youth have a larger role to play in the development. Their entrepreneurial thoughts are vital to our ongoing march to a better Somalia. Youths might have engaged in development initiatives, this continues to bear fruits, for instance look at charitable works, struggle for more prosperous and educated community, they can be volunteers to dwindle illiteracy rate and perhaps they could help us opt for self-reliance.   

What motivated you to become a Civil Engineer and How are you using your platform to bring change?        

 It’s not because civil engineering is one of the highest-paid jobs in Africa or worldwide. I was propelled by the infrastructure sector which has been in shambles as a result of state collapse. I love getting involved in local communities; I want to become an esteemed civil engineer among my people. I am very much indebted to anyone who stood by me in my quest for a promising field and truly I am sure I will get personal endeavors off the ground to improve access to potable water, to alleviate housing crisis, to build new roads free of charge and research on key engineering topics back home.

I extensively use social media to address a cancer that needs to be severed. Mostly, I tweet about tribalism which really kept progress at bay. I couldn’t wait any longer to remain silent about the dirty clan politics and in turn I use my passion for writing to quell chasm of violence through the pen.

What advice can you share with Somali/ Somali diaspora who want to give back?

"It’s time for Somali Diaspora to return and heavily invest in construction industry. Their significant contribution has already been seen and unless their presence is felt, Somalia’s path to full economic recovery will face hurdles."

 What are some of your proudest projects/moments so far?

I visited Somalia last summer to work on the geometric design of presidential road in Garowe. Over the course of my stay, I was also part of UN-funded project aimed at offering solutions to drainage problems. Besides, I feel proud of my contribution to the construction of palace and design of one-way four-lane urban roads in the Somali region of Ethiopia. When working in Ethiopia or other East African countries (if you have), do you find it more challenging to perform your work? (Perhaps Some patterns you’ve noticed?(do they lack similar things?)

The only challenge was how owners of projects are indifferent to the dynamic works of civil engineers.

Education is fundamental to ending poverty and Civil engineering plays a significant role. So, how can our governments/communities encourage people to pursue this career so we can successfully bring systematic change?

This profession is not something very easy, but Somalia needs people capable of imparting some striking ideas to others, especially, those schooled about science. Authorities on the ground should build higher education institutions which specialize in technology, reverse brain drain and make wider appeal in the face of economic infrastructure in tatters.

Follow our favorite engineer here! Website: somaliamonitor.blogspot.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/abduresh Twitter:  @abdirashiddahir