Youth initiative promotes volunteer work
Activists from the Al-Agyal Foundation for Human Development in Dhamar have started a campaign aimed at cleaning the streets of Dhamar city. The campaign, entitled Watani Arka, is planned to take place over a period of two weeks.
Riyad Soreim, a young man who presides over the foundation, mentioned that in its first phase, the campaign aims to clean Dhamar’s main streets and roads; implement an awareness program in elementary and secondary schools in order to spread awareness of how to enhance the look of their city; to entrench values of tolerance, brotherhood, altruism, and cooperation, letting children know the dangers of carrying weapons and tampering with them; adopting programs in schools which will allow participants to see past future political differences; and distribute leaflets and deliver lectures aimed at overcoming the past year’s political tensions.
Soreim added that the initiative also involves coordination with imams, especially during Friday prayers and following the five daily prayers.
He also pointed out that the initiative is tied to the country’s current circumstances and carries the aim of using volunteer work to restore and revitalize the energies of the youth. Such volunteer work is considered to represent a sincere means of change as far as shifting society away from its deeply entrenched “culture of shame.” Other goals include those of refining young peoples’ life skills and creativity, deepening principles of national loyalty and promoting the rejection of extremism, tribalism and sectarianism.
Khalid Al-Khedr, a volunteer at the foundation, said that the initiative aims to develop society and work on behalf of the country, but without seeking political or sectarian gains. Al-Khedr sees Watani Arka as a volunteer initiative that operates without organizational support.
Al-Agyal Foundation was established in 2008 by a group of youth activists. It was established as a voluntary youth development foundation and was able to hold a number of activities despite limited resources.
Essam Al-Shahari, executive director for the foundation in Sana’a, said, “We will launch initiatives, including one for the introduction of a new governorate in the Republic.”
The foundation’s secretary general declared that the initiative represents a new start for volunteer work in Dhamar governorate.
Wafaa Al-Saghir, the official responsible for the foundation’s training and activities department, referred to the significance of awareness campaigns reflecting women’s active role in society.
41-year-old merchant Abdullah Ali stated that everyone needs to have a share in the promotion of Dhamar city’s image.
In the opinion of 50-year-old resident Haj Mohammad Hussein’s, cleaners today quickly become revolutionaries. They threaten their bosses that they may strike or sit-in if any of their rights are negatively affected, or if any deductions or penalties are made against them. He said, “We have been suffering for a year from the accumulation of garbage and waste beside our homes and mosques; it is a problem, to the extent that waste is being thrown beside the very boxes allocated for it. The garbage stays like that for a week to ten days, with no cleaners to pick it up.”
For his part, Ali Al-Warki, a journalist and volunteer for the Watani Arka initiative, called upon organizations to contribute to the foundation’s efforts so that the voluntary youth initiative may be the nucleus of a wider campaign to include other governorates and rural areas.