SDRCC’s newly created Young Leaders Council (YLC) is a group of 10 young adult leaders from 9 different ethnic community based organizations (ECBOs) that seeks to utilize their collective efforts to give a voice to the youth of underserved communities, and ensure that their needs are both heard and met. YLC members receive training in advocacy and programming, as well as opportunities to engage in system change activities.
As of 2020, refugees accounted for roughly 27% of San Diego’s population. Of that number, about 5% are under the age of 18. Their families often struggle with employment, English proficiency, household security and safety, and incomplete or inadequate healthcare. 1 The YLC aims to assist with these issues by engaging youth in designing and participating in activities that will raise awareness about and address issues ongoing in their communities.
YLC members receive training on a variety of topics related to advocacy and engagement, including establishment of program priorities, community engagement strategies, and training related to specific areas of interest. As a link between underserved youth and the assistance they need, members strive to create innovative programming catering to the needs and issues that they observe. By aiding the younger members of the communities they are involved with, members do not just create a more tolerant, positive environment for youth, but relieve pressure from their families. Programs catering to issues such as isolation and food insecurity generate benefits for the security, comfort, and well-being of communities at large.
The YLC is an opportunity for youth leaders to assess how to benefit the greatest number of people in the most effective ways possible, develop integral organizational and administrative skills, and foster a community of passionate, driven activists.
Meet our Members
Kobe’s choice to work with youth stems from a dedication to and love for his community. He is working on obtaining a master’s degree in counseling, having already completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at SDSU, in the hopes of becoming a high school and eventually college counselor. His current work with youth at UWEAST involves providing social and academic opportunities, from a free basketball league to assistance with college applications. Kobe’s organization also assists the local East African population with resources, job hunting, and drug abuse rehabilitation. Having been his own mentor when he was younger, Kobe appreciates being able to see and nurture potential in the youth he works with, and working with a community that cares deeply about fostering each other’s passions and success.
As a youth, Melat’s lack of control over her difficult circumstances led her to believe that only adults had the power to change their lives for the better. Her work with youth empowers them to believe in their own capabilities, and gives them a foundational structure to be able to do so. At the Refugee Assistance Center, Melat helps provide economic assistance, primarily to Ethiopian and Eritrean populations. She and her organization support families’ small businesses and other economic ventures, and aid youth with academic goals and becoming comfortable in their communities. Melat, currently a student at Mesa College, is particularly dedicated to alleviating cultural stigma, especially around disabilities and mental health. She enjoys listening to and engaging youth, and hopes to continue fostering a close-knit community.
Mandy strives to balance the preservation of Karen culture with refugees’ adjustment to American culture. At the Karen Organization of San Diego, she helps youth and their families find a comfortable space in their communities, providing English translation and tutoring, internship opportunities, and housing assistance. Mandy’s work extends beyond San Diego; she helps host annual meetings between Karen organizations throughout California to strengthen youth’s ties with their culture and with one another. Cultural and linguistic differences within the San Diego Burmese population pose challenges that the Karen Organization is well-suited to recognize and address. Mandy loves connecting with the people she supports and encouraging them to give back to their communities. She is eager to raise more awareness about her organization. Mandy is currently studying social work at Grossmont College
Subrein graduated from SDSU with an interdisciplinary degree in political science, Arab language, and history, a decision that made her studies rewarding and fulfilling. She began working with youth immediately after college, and seeks to help them find similar direction and inspiration. Her work at the Majdal Center allows Arab youth to grow into their cultures and themselves without fear of judgement. A sense of community is a core value for both Subrein and her organization; through aspects of their programs such as youth-led events and collaboration with other agencies, they have been able to continue strengthening bonds within El Cajon’s Arab population. Subrein enjoys helping youth find their voices, and hopes that they will eventually utilize their empowerment to create their own changes within their society.
Nyaduoth loves politics – in particular, the cultural ties that are uncovered by digging into nations’ foundations. Having majored in political science at UCSD, she now applies her curiosity about and passion for the development of and connection between people to her work at the Southern Sudanese Community Center. Nyaduoth has taken charge of coordinating the SSSCC’s youth assistance, which has a variety of programs for academic and emotional support. The SSCC’s general programs include tenants rights workshops, cooking classes, and crisis hotlines. Through strong ties to partner ECBOs and dedication to connecting the different populations their organization supports, Nyaduoth and the SSCC strive to provide a place for youth to grow into both their native and new culture, and to provide a safe space for those who need it.
My name is Abdulrahman Ismael but Abdul works for short. This is my first year as a youth coordinator at Licence To Freedom and I am very excited to work with YLC and be a positive influence to the community. I am originally from Kurdistan and speak both Kurdish and Arabic. Currently, I’m a junior at SDSU studying Psychology. I am ambitious, attentive, and very much enjoy working with people of all ages and backgrounds. Some of my hobbies are soccer, weight lifting, and traveling. I also enjoy reading non-fiction books from time to time. I am eager to be part of any type of positive change in our community.
My name is Samuel Sefu. I work with the Somali Bantu Community of San Diego as a youth council. I graduated high school in 2019, I’m still taking my education at City College of San Diego. My huge goal here is to graduate and get my degree. But out of school education I got skills and also experience of music I can rap and writes my own great music stories to educate my communities and make them happy, I like being around youth I always spent much time with my street soccer team named MAPIPO FC sometime we travel together and having some fun that’s the reason why I choose to work this job, I knew that I got a lot to share and help my communities for the better. Wondering to have a powerful future generation ones of my goals. Also my main point here is to help and educate men of color to come out of mental slavery and mental health.
At the Horn of Africa Community nonprofit, Amal’s role adapts to the needs of her community members. Amal and Horn of Africa offer a variety of services, including vaccine drives – Amal’s most recent focus and success – legal counsel, small business grants, and a developing youth program. As the daughter of Somali immigrants, Amal’s close ties to the local Somali population enable her to provide culturally informed and personally empathetic aid and support to the people her organization assists. She enjoys being able to reciprocally learn from the older immigrants she assists, gaining as much knowledge from their perspectives and experiences as they gain from her work and counsel. Amal is hopeful that collaboration with other organizations will help her share information and resources with even more of San Diego’s East African community.