94. Mahamed Hassan Awl

2 Oct

Paving the way for young people to better understand their culture, Mahamed Awl has become an intrinsic part of his community.

The Beyond Youth Founder; a not for profit local organisation that helps young Somali-Australian’s learn more about their culture in a supportive and age appropriate environment, has been helping young people since it’s inception.

Mahamed grew up in a Somalian community in Melbourne’s North where he yearned for community events to participate in.

He saw that sport had the monopoly on community events, but he questioned: what if some young people don’t like sport?

Like himself, there were other Somali-Australian young people who didn’t have an outlet because they also didn’t enjoy sport; ultimately leaving them excluded.

Calling Heidelberg home, Mahamed has become an integral part of his community; he now works toward the mission of addressing – and ameliorating – the: ‘disadvantages within our community’.

“Starting off living in a Somalian community, [and] our community is very connected, but I think that there wasn’t a lot of community events that were happening or a lot of support for young people,” he said.

“For me personally, I wasn’t dedicated to sport or those kind of things, so there wasn’t an outlet for me to actually speak to others or socialise.

“I had a need of trying to develop my social skills and talk to others; I really wanted to have a space where I could actually do that – it was something that was lacking.”

Mahamed saw a gap or a disproportionate number of events that were tailored towards young people that searched for other ways to socialise.

This sparked an idea which lead him to build a community based program targeted towards young Somali-Australians: Beyond Youth.

“From the beginning, there were four of us that started it all,” he said.

“We helped start it up and create the organisation Beyond Youth, and ensure that we had our plans, our goals, our focus on who we will support, and what we can do, and what programs we’re going to do.

“There are a lot of others who are like me, who had no opportunity to go to events, so we thought: why not do it ourselves, we can be the solution to this problem.”

Their classes are aimed at equipping young Somali-Australians with important life skills: public speaking, swimming, job searching, and so many more.

However, these classes also allow many young people within the Banyule community to connect with their Somalian cultural heritage, and see the inspiring success the programs volunteers have achieved.

These classes started from grass root ideas, and was incepted based on Mahamed’s upbringing, and lack of classes targeted towards young Somali-Australians.

Mahamed says the catalyst moment that pushed him to get involved with his community was simple: helping others socialise and find their place within their community.

“I would say it started in school; luckily I was given the role of being school captain, so I think my eagerness of wanting to help other students really put forward an idea of me enjoying helping others,” he said.

“An event that I supported from a young age was the photography program, which was very simple… however, that engagement with others was what really allowed for relationships to be created.

“The highlight for me is the small things… we wanted to teach youth a simple life lesson, and the reason I enjoy it so much is how it really impacted their lives.

“[these programs] really allowed for the community to know who we are, and really create a bond between ourselves and the community.”

Mahamed follows the mantra: ‘I do have the power to help others and I do have the power to change someone’s life for the better,’ which has empowered him to pursuit a career in social work.

Now Mahamed is a force to be reckoned with; his passion lies with helping young people succeed, and giving more young Somali-Australians an outlet to get the support they need.

Photo by Darcy Scales.

Article by Curtis Baines.


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