Restoring Hope in the Perspectives of Yemeni youth about the Peace and The Future of Yemen
Shroq Alramadi is a Yemeni young woman who lived through the invasion of the city of Mukallah, Hadhramout by assailants pleading allegiance to Al-Qaeada in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2016. Soon after AQAP was driven away from Mukallah by government forces, Shroq and her fellow colleagues had a purpose engraved deep inside them; it is to engage in activities that rejects violence and conflict in all its forms while concurrently making every attempt to revive Yemeni and Hadhrami culture and providing space for Yemeni artists to bring out the creative-self inside them.
In June 2016, Shroq and her colleagues, mostly Yemeni women, established a youth-led initiative. They named the initiative “Takween”, which translates in Arabic as “Creation” and/or “crafting”. To them, it relates to the creation of everything artistic and promising, and of course joyful.
When the initiative was established in 2016, Shroq was still a student in the School of Architecture and Environmental Planning . The idea of establishing an initiative stemmed from the drive Shroq and her fellow friends had to contribute in community volunteering services. Utilizing her leadership skills, she organized a couple of unofficial meetings (some in the College general cafeteria and others during girls’ social gathering).
Once formed, members of Takween, intensely committed to making a change in their local communities, began their work with young children. To them, young children need to form dreams that are directly tied to their future. More importantly, they need to have a reason to pursue their education and not drop out of schools. Because if they drop out or flunk in school, they become an easier target for armed and/or extremist groups whose first resort is violence. Takween’s resolve was to help young children love schools by helping them with their lessons while concurrently teaching them some art (drawing, reading, acting….etc). This way, children grow to fulfill their potential.
Soon, Takween realized they needed to formalize their organizational structure. They unanimously selected Shroq Al-Ramadi as their executive director. Shroq decided to involve Takween in more civic engagement activities. Takween knew that they could not make a change in the perspectives against of the people in their communities unless they included youth in their target groups. Shroq took an important step in the development of the initiative and began targeting young people in Hadhramot with activities that were anti-conflict, and aim at further honing youths’ skills .
In late 2020, Shroq and her team at Takween learned about an opportunity called “My solution initiative”. Recognizing that the participation of youth is essential for sustainable approaches to peacebuilding, this initiative aims to promote and showcase success stories of young Yemeni peacebuilders. UNESCO and RNW Media launched an open call in August 2020 inviting young Yemenis to submit their “solutions” for peace in their country. Seven promising initiatives have been selected and have been supported to further develop their ideas and projects. These solutions, referred to as “My Solution”, aside from being developed by youth, are led by socially active young people from the civil society, and they target young Yemeni people across the country.
Takween was one of the seven winners of the opportunity provided by the project. Members of Takween knew instantly that they could invest in their collective and diverse skills to promote for peace. Takween decided to utilize art in its different forms (drawings, short videos, social media posters, writing and content development …etc) to counter-fight narratives of violence while concurrently restoring youth’s trust in peace and security. Takween strives to do that providing a safe space for artists and the cultural practitioners and encourage the youth to speak up and express.