Out-of-School Youth Learn Trades in the Philippines

Speeches Shim

Achieving Dreams and Changing Perceptions: A Young Woman’s Journey to a Brighter Future
Halima Sahim spoke at a youth summit in August 2015. She plans to become a teacher to bring opportunities to young people from Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas.
Vulnerable young people get training for productive lives
“I've learned to dream; to believe in the possibility that an out-of-school youth's dream can turn to reality.”

July 2016—Halima Sahim, a 22-year-old native of Lamitan City, Basilan, in Mindanao, used to live without much hope for her future. The third of five siblings, she had to stay home to look after her younger brother and sister instead of finishing her education. She dreamt of getting a degree, but her family could not afford to put her through school.

Still, Sahim held onto her belief that poverty should not be a barrier to success. She wanted to prove to her younger siblings and other youth from her community that a brighter future awaits them.

Sahim got the opportunity to work on achieving her dreams when she joined USAID’s Mindanao Youth for Development (MYDev) program. Launched in 2013, the program allows young people to gain leadership skills, complete their basic education, learn a new trade, and ultimately transition into productive adulthood.

Sahim took up welding, a trade commonly regarded as a man’s job in her hometown. She emerged as a leader in her class, demonstrating exceptional skills in the craft. For this, the Philippines’ Technical Education and Skills Development Authority awarded her with a nationally recognized certificate. She then began at Furigay Colleges in Lamitan City as an assistant trainer for welding.

Sahim was also elected to represent her peers as a member of the local Out-of-School Youth Development Alliances (OSYDA). The group, chaired by the mayor and composed of other government agencies and the private sector, provides civic engagement activities, entrepreneurship opportunities, and job placements to vulnerable youth.

In one OSYDA workshop, Sahim noted that her community looks down upon its at-risk youth. The stigma causes young people to lose hope for their future. She noted, however, that the negative views changed—both in the community and amongst the youth themselves—when they joined USAID’s MyDev program.

“Because of MYDev, my perception towards life has changed,” said Sahim. “I gained strength to voice out concerns and problems of my peers.”

Today, Sahim is studying at Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College and receives education and housing assistance from a youth group called Action Bridges Aspiration. She supplements this with her own earnings.

“I dream of becoming a teacher so I can serve remote communities that are often neglected because of security problems,” Sahim explained. Despite the challenges she faces in conflict-affected Basilan, she refuses to give up. “I’ve learned to dream,” she said, “to believe in the possibility that an out-of-school youth’s dream can turn to reality.”

The five-year, $11 million program is expected to benefit 19,000 youth in Mindanao, contributing to peace and stability in the region.


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