Our Facebook page is called UngXit, and the link to our page is
I am working to set up an organisation to work with vulnerable youth, including minor unaccompanied asylumseekers, to adress issues involving mental health. Through participative methods such as painting, creative writing, SLAM poetry, dancing, capoeira and roleplay we are planning to promote youth empowerment. We believe that youth who are struggling with issues of Identity, lack of self-confidence and self-esteem will have benefits from participating in activities that enable them to learn new skills, engaging in collaborative work with others, and practising skills of communication through being active. This is not rocket science – there are empirical evidence worldwide that approaches such as these actually do work. Here is a film clip of capoeira in Salvador Bahia, Brazil. Capoeira is implemented in various projects with vulnerable youth and children in Brazil.
For the time being, I am applying for funding to run our activities in an asylum reception centre near Oslo, Norway. Our challenge is that we are lacking in funding. Currently we have a little over $100 in our account, which is peanuts. We are facing the challenge of explaining to people why there is a need to implement activities that promote mental health among youth and children who have travelled alone from countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria. Go figure……! In addition, we are having a problem that 1/3 of our youth in Norway do not finish high school. Some of them experience that they simply do not fit in to the standards and norms of our educational system, for whatever reason. For many others, this is also an issue closely related to mental health. Being a social entrepreneur means that I am working at finding ways of sustaining our own activities through making money, in order not to rely on public funding. Moreover I would like to create work opportunities for likeminded as myself who are concerned with issues relating to refugees and asylumseekers. We don’t all need to be public officials in order to help vulnerable youth and children. In this day and age, there is plenty enough of work for us all to do.
In the long run I am planning for our organisation to invite youth to participate in community development work in overseas countries, for instance Zanzibar. Engaging in volunteer work means that you are spending time figuring out how you can help others, and you think less of your own problems. Volunteer work is also a very effective method in promoting self-confidence and self-esteem. Simultaneously we plan to work on assisting our youth participants in facing their own challenges. I think that many youth who are lacking in work opportunities and not going to school would benefit from engaging in volunteer work. And three weeks in Zanzibar never hurt anyone… 🙂
Across Europe, and even as far away as China, youth have left their home countries to join up with Islamic State (ISIL), who are terrorizing civilians in Syria and Iraq. In Norway, according to statistics +80 youth have left home to join them. ISIL are now controlling major areas covering Syria and Iraq, and since 2001 the United States has been in the lead of the “war against terror”. The main approach to fighting ISIL is through bombing attacks, as no foreign countries (understandably) wish to deploy ground troops to fighting the terror organisation. One challenge is that terrorism is a tactic, just like submarine warfare was a tactic during the Second World War. The big question is: How do you wage war against a tactic?
I believe that simultaneously as fighting the war against terrorism by using military means, the fight against ISIL begins in our home countries. Youth who have left home, have left for a reason. It doesn’t need to be due to the lack of a job, or being out of school. Nor does it mean that they are stupid, but rather leaders in the network of Islamic State are very clever. They know how to draw youth to themselves. Some youth believe that they are going to engage in humanitarian work, until they realise that ISIL’s plans for them is anything but “humanitarian”. In addition, Alan Krueger from Princeton University argues that people who engage in terrorism, do so because they have strong political views about the world that they are willing to die for, and believe that terrorism is a legitimate approach to making a point. ISIL are killing our youth, in addition to innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria, who are living with and facing gruesome terror on a daily basis. I think that we should use every means possible to prevent youth from leaving home. If the “market” of available and willing youth who wish to join ISIL plummets, the terror network of ISIL will decrease, and eventually (hopefully) lose power and significance.
They are smart, but we are going to be smarter. 😀
. Alan Krueger, What makes a terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2008.