Mujeeb Al-Fatesh speaks to the Yemen Times
Although initiatives have been spreading during the last period, there are several problems and challenges encountering such initiatives. Yemen Times conducted the following interview with Mujeeb Al-Fatesh, the general coordinator of youth initiatives, institutions and the civil society organizations in the capital city. Many issues were talked over during the interview.
The capital city has witnessed a surge of youth initiatives. Why is this so at this particular time?
Initiatives have been established to provide services for society. Consequently, I think the increase of initiatives in the community helps contribute to activating the role of youth and spot their skills so as to be utilized well for the sake of society and the nation. The spread of initiatives at this particular time is an indicator of youth and their social awareness about being responsible for national and community problems.
How do the initiatives contribute to serving Yemeni society?
Initiatives play a paramount role in society. The initiatives perform their roles gradually. For instance, they contribute to spreading social solidarity and combating poverty by means of distributing food rations for the needy. They also help activate the role of youth and integrate them in community development work as well as consolidating positive change and providing youth with an opportunity to realize their ambitions. Moreover, the initiatives help create competent young community leaders capable of advancing the country.
How do you explain the sudden increase followed by the abrupt disappearance of youth initiatives?
That happens due to some problems the initiatives encounter. Such problems could be technical, managerial or financial. What I mean by technical problems is the lack of a clear objective, planning, vision and message, in addition to lacking in particular plans. Thus, they (the youth) work arbitrarily, resulting in a stop.
There are still problems related to planning, management, marketing and leadership skills. This triggers internal problems in the team.
There are financial problems. Some of the initiatives’ organizers spend their own money, and they have no plan to look for a budget from organizations and institutions. In the end, the initiative loses ground.
Some people criticize certain initiatives, saying youth initiatives aim only to draw attention without providing genuine community services.
Everyone has the right to stand out or be outstanding as long as they are the best example of Yemeni youth caring for national and community concerns. In my opinion, the media outlets have not done enough to promote these initiatives.
Therefore, I send a message to the media to care for the youth initiatives because these initiatives help spread culture essential for society and the nation. I also want to point out that we are in need of promoting youth leadership so as to be real models for youth. We are fed up with the present leadership. We need new, brilliant models.
Seeking celebrity for the purpose of self-interest will make anyone gradually lose ground, without doubt.
In your opinion, what do these initiatives lack?
The initiatives, in my viewpoint, lack a lot of things. They firstly need spiritual support and social appreciation. They need to concentrate on one field and be specific. They lack continuous training and preparation. They require financial backup from international, local and private organizations.
Cultural youth initiatives remain absent from Yemeni society. Why?
A culture of volunteerism has become fundamental in building society and spreading social solidarity among all individuals. Volunteerism is charitable work done by all humans since the distant past, but there are differences in terms of the size, the type and the motives from one period to another. As for the size, volunteerism during stability is scant; it augments during the course of catastrophes, aftermaths and wars. The type of volunteerism can be physical, professional or monetary grants. Regarding motives, they can be personal, social or political.
What is the importance of youth initiatives at this hard time the country is witnessing?
Youth initiatives and institutions shoulder a big responsibility given we are living in a transitional phase, which we hope to be a gate to a new Yemen that everyone calls for. The initiatives are the safety valves of society and the country. They give youth one goal and (they) work as one team, separate from racism and extremism. They help direct youth to serve their nation and take advantage of their potential, energy and abilities.
Now, the development-related projects have stood out. The initiatives have started to tackle some problems in the capital city, including roads and cleaning. They started to focus on these fields in order to effectively contribute to advancing society and building a new Yemen.
How do you evaluate the performance of these initiatives over the course of the crisis Yemen went through last year?
Excellent. I am optimistic about Yemeni youth. They are a great power for the country and will do greater; days to come will prove that.
But is there similarity regarding the thoughts and objectives of the majority of initiatives? If so, then why?
Yes, I pointed to that already. The initiatives are suffering from a lack of specialization so that particular services are provided. We will discuss this in the initiatives’ coming meeting.
You were appointed the general coordinator of youth initiatives and organizations in Sana’a. What role will you play?
First, I would like to give a vote of thanks to Abdulqadir Ali Helal, the secretary of the capital city. I am proud of his trust to appoint me the general coordinator for youth initiatives and institutions in the capital city.
I deem this appointment a task, not an honor. It is a big responsibility, and I wish I would perform as others envisioned I would. I am proud to work with Helal. He is one of the few officials who appreciates the importance of youth volunteer work and its role in the country’s progress. Due to his sense of responsibility, his serious keenness and his grand attention to youth, he appointed me for this position. We are confident of the future.
Does the state consider these initiatives important?
In the past period, the state showed no interest in these initiatives. Recently, however, the government shows a positive reaction that increases day-by-day. I think this has been noticeable through the interaction of some officials with the youth at many events. Nowadays, the capital city is witnessing a large momentum of youth activities under the auspices of Helal.
Himat Shabab is one of the few institutional initiatives. Why do you think a lot of initiatives lack institutional work?
Himat Shabab is an example of many others. It was an initiative at the beginning. Then it became an institution. We hope we will continue institutional work and build the institution as well as transferring the experience to others. There are still many other examples such as Badir W Ather.
In regard to the absence of the institutional work, I think this takes place because the initiative organizers are not in harmony. Hence, personal differences arise; everyone remains detached from institutional work. They feel they will lose personal gains that make them accomplish their personal objectives. This is one reason among many others.
In addition, the culture of institutional work has not been founded or spread in Arabian societies, let alone the Yemeni community.
I think living examples of leading institutions should appear in order to be exemplary models for the rest.
Some popular cleaning initiatives were established in neighborhoods recently. How do you assess such a step?
It was an awesome step. We will keep providing them with spiritual and official support through the offices in the districts of the capital city. We urge the continuity of such initiatives in order to keep cooperation between the state and society.
What projects are the focus for the days to come?
There are many axes we are focusing on in the capital city, including cleaning, afforestation, lighting and health. Youth initiatives will join in order to achieve our objectives. We work together to accomplish that.
What is your message to youth initiatives?
My message to youth is that they ought to be responsible for contributing to change. I call on the youth to be as one hand to build the new Yemen.