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article imageBVCare on a Mission to Reconcile Divided Factions Special

By Farid Abdulhamid     Oct 14, 2011 in World
Toronto - In charting a new era for their beleaguered homeland, young Somali-Canadians are embarking on an innovative nation-building process aimed at reconciling factions divided by the 20 year destructive civil war.
Members of the Toronto-based BVCare, a youth-driven initiative, hold the key to unlocking Somalia’s conflict as their unique vision provides solutions for the intractable civil strife that has ravaged their homeland.
BVCare stands for Basalo Visionary Care. It is a non-partisan, non-sectarian, relief-based organization assisting in the development of communities in Somalia affected by poverty, conflict and humanitarian disasters. The organization operates in an environment free from discrimination, and strives to guarantee the dignity of the individuals and communities it serves.
BVCare’s vision is consistent with its mission and the human rights approach whose long term goals are to accelerate achievements of global and development goals, and enhance the ability of families and communities to achieve results.
Its mission is to help alleviate human suffering through sustainable development initiatives and emergency relief programs that foster self-reliance and preserve human dignity.
Some of BVCare’s main objectives are to inspire young Somali people by equipping them with the tools for tomorrow so that they can achieve their full potential and to enable them to take responsibility for their lives and develop as individuals and make the successful transition to adulthood.
For the wider Somali society, BVCare hopes to empower community members to make informed choices so they can reach their full potential and participate meaningfully in decisions affecting their lives.
Overall, BVCare is a voice for the voiceless and the less fortunate.
Nawal Isse, Khadija Ali, Shukri Omar and Abdinasir Sheikh are among the founding members of BVCare. On the evening of Sunday, October 9th 2011, the group of young activists sat with Digital Journal’s Farid Omar for an exclusive interview at downtown’s Hamdi Restaurant, a popular Somali-Canadian joint to discuss their vision for rebuilding Somalia through an upcoming public forum that will open the doors to dialogue, healing and reconciliation.
As part of their national reconciliation project, Nawal and team are organizing a five-week public forum that will run every Sunday from October 30th through November 6th 13th 20th and 27th.
BVCare members Khadija Ali (left)  Nawal Isse (second left) and Shukri Omar (right) with Digital Jou...
BVCare members Khadija Ali (left), Nawal Isse (second left) and Shukri Omar (right) with Digital Journal's Farid Omar outside the Hamdi Restaurant in downtown Toronto.
Photo: BVCare
The innovative youth series will create an amicable space for soul searching geared to help community members reveal their inner feelings and animosities in a bid to unlock their tormented souls while allowing participants to come to terms with their hidden fears on the path to breaking the cycle of silence that has confined the untold stories of the Somali civil war in closed circles.
Nawal Isse says that the upcoming forum is modeled on the Nelson Mandela-inspired Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that helped South Africans of all races to reveal the truth by acknowledging past injustices on the quest to build a new, united and tolerant South Africa.
“We would like to follow the path taken by Mandela and South Africans in instituting a Toronto-based forum similar to the TRC. In the last 20 years, the Somali youth and community in general have faced a wall of silence. No one was bold enough to address the root causes of the conflict. Our forum seeks to help participants break free from this vicious cycle” said Nawal.
“We have families who lost everything in the civil war. We have innocent lives that perished in the high seas while trying to flee the spiraling conflict. Their stories and pains should be a subject of public discussion based on truth-telling, dialogue, understanding and reconciliation. That’s what our forum is all about” noted Nawal.
The unique forum is part of a healing process where community members from different regions and clan affiliations will be encouraged to speak out openly, reveal their inner turmoil and biases while acknowledging their misgivings, misconceptions, fears, petty divisions and injustices inflicted upon their perceived opponents in the long standing Somali political crisis.
Nawal Isse of BVCare.
Nawal Isse of BVCare.
Photo: BCVare
Shukri Omar (left) and Khadija Ali.
Shukri Omar (left) and Khadija Ali.
Photo: BVCare
BVCare members: From left  Khadija Ali  Shukri Omar and Nawal Isse pose at the Hamdi Restaurant  dow...
BVCare members: From left, Khadija Ali, Shukri Omar and Nawal Isse pose at the Hamdi Restaurant, downtown, Toronto, during an exclusive interview with the Digital Journal's Farid Omar.
Photo: BVCare
The Silence Breakers Forum will be articulated under the banner “Shshhhhhhhhh……Hasheqin (Somali for Don’t tell)” in reference to the wall of silence that has divided the community and perpetuated injustices over the last 20 years.
“This forum is for people who are genuinely committed to reveal their inner feelings and suffering. People who want to kill the cycle of grudge and animosities. It is for people who want to acknowledge the ugly reality of the past. It is for victims of injustices who want to forgive and perpetrators of injustices willing to ask for forgiveness and where everyone wants to move forward together” said Nawal.
Shukri Omar, a multi-talented, young and upcoming artist said that the youth should take direct leadership on Somalia’s state of affairs.
“Our generation needs to speak out the most. For far too long, parents have restricted the youth to the realm of school and home. This needs to stop. The young generation needs to get more involved on all issues pertaining to Canada and the homeland. We can no longer sit back and watch from the sidelines. It is time to act” said Shukri.
The girl with a golden voice stated that the “youth should free themselves from communal and parental bondage that has restricted them from engaging in social activism” adding that “It is embarrassing for us to sit back and do nothing when our homeland is in turmoil.”
Known for doling out socially conscious lyrics, Shukri said that the youth should put their act together to bring positive change.
“In the past, the youth remained on the sidelines because parents discouraged their direct involvement in critical matters. But it is meaningless for us to sit back while the situation back home is escalating. We have the power to bring change and therefore, it is imperative that we take action” said Shukri.
Shukri also underscored the power and ability of BVCare to revamp Somalia. “BVCare must plant a seed in Somalia!” said the young, articulate artist.
Khadija Ali concurred with Shukri.
“Parents have always pushed our attention elsewhere. We were never allowed to pay any attention to the societal ills afflicting our community and nation. But the youth are tired of this. They want to do something about the divisions tearing our community apart” said Khadija.
Deriding the ongoing situation in Somalia, Khadija observed that “Somalia has two faces, not one. Instead of a unified front, we have something akin of a head and tail. We need to be on one side. One head, one nation” said Khadija.
“The youth are the best asset the community has. We are more dedicated about Somalia. Our generation is the critical bridge that can unite us and help us overcome our long standing, intractable problems” said Khadija.
Abdinasir Sheikh conveys a powerful message in line with BVCare s ideals.
Abdinasir Sheikh conveys a powerful message in line with BVCare's ideals.
Photo: BVCare
Abdinasir Sheikh said that he would like to “play an important role in the history of Somalia by doing things differently.”
It is time for the older generation to step aside and let the young Turks take charge. “No one in this generation is open-minded unless they are educated” noted Abdinasir.
“We don’t have a hidden agenda. We are not seeking to gain from this endeavour. We do not want anyone to thank us for our noble efforts. We just need to derive satisfaction from bringing positive change to our community” said Abdinasir.
In the eagerly awaited forum, BVCare plans to invite stakeholders outside the community who are interested in this initiative. These would include peace oriented organizations, relevant government agencies, prominent Canadians,members of the Press and UN agencies.
For more information, please contact BVCare at:
Nawal Isse: Tel (647) 629-9538
Hassan "Karate," Anchor: Ogaal Radio (Somali Media), 88.9FM Tel: (416) 278-2944
More about BVCare, Somali Canadians, Public Forum
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