Youth homelessness in IrelandIreland has been working to reduce homelessness and improve emergency services for its disadvantaged citizens for years. Current structures and policies help the homeless but leave out the struggling youth. The forgotten young people of Ireland have been ignored by social housing programs and blocked from receiving full welfare payments. To end youth homelessness in Ireland, the government is looking at the gaps in policies that allow young people to slip into poverty.

The Problem

Youth homelessness in Ireland has increased by 90% in the last three years, leaving over 850 people aged 18-24 without a place to call home. Just five years earlier, only 450 young adults were homeless, exemplifying the growing issue in Ireland. The Department of Housing Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPCLG) provides these statistics, but the data is incomplete.

In addition to these figures, there is also a prevalence of the “hidden homeless” among Irish youth. The hidden homeless include those couch surfing, squatting or residing anywhere that is not sustainable. Because these young homeless people are not utilizing state services or shelters, they are excluded from data on youth homelessness in Ireland.

In 2016, the number of young people still living at home with their parents increased by 19%, reflecting the rise in rent and lack of affordable housing available. While these people support their parents, children that come from broken, abusive or absent families have no one to care for them once they reach 18.

Homeless or impoverished minors are looked after by Tusla Child and Family Agency. However, just like parents, they have no legal responsibility to take care of the children after the age of 18. These policies neglect to account for transition periods leaving young people alone the moment they reach legal adulthood.

The Cause

Currently, Ireland’s approach to its homeless situation is mostly emergency, reactive services. To reduce youth homelessness in Ireland, the focus must pivot to prevention and intervention for at-risk young people. The factors that force young people into homelessness often begin in their childhood. They experience poverty, traumatic life events, family conflict and general instability from a young age and are not given the tools to transition successfully into adulthood.

Young people are at the bottom of the list to get accommodations in social housing and local authorities. After being bounced around between social housing, emergency shelters and other temporary government accommodations, young people often give up on the system because they become tired of the repeated placement circuit. Landlords often reject young people due to a lack of finances and references or simply because they find young tenants undesirable. This age discrimination is one of the main causes of youth homelessness in Ireland.

Citizens under the age of 26 are not eligible for full welfare payments and can only receive reduced payments if they receive anything. Stifling the financial welfare of people from such young age rather than offering support leads to long-term poverty and increased homelessness in the community.

Two-thirds of young homeless people in Ireland reside in Dublin. Here, many living spaces are used as Airbnbs. As more short-term rentals pop up and crowd the city with tourists, more young citizens are forced to sleep on the streets.

A six-year study into youth homelessness in Ireland focused on 40 young people between the ages of 14-22. The majority of these participants came from situations where they experienced trauma and severe poverty, leading them to drop out of school early. More than half of the participants in the study reported they had tried heroin and have a criminal record showing the severe consequences when disadvantaged young adults have no support system. Most of them had experienced homelessness by the age of 15, illustrating the need for early intervention in these tumultuous situations.

The Solution

The Coalition to End Youth Homelessness in Ireland is comprised of sixteen organizations and charities dedicated to getting young people off the streets. This issue has been forgotten for many years. Still, all of these organizations are stepping up to end the neglect of the country’s young and bring awareness to the issue.

The Coalition to End Youth Homelessness recommends the Irish Government invest in mediation, counseling and mentoring services for minors that live in instability. Through intervening in difficult family situations early, the government can provide tools to children to facilitate a smooth transition from a rocky childhood to successful adulthood. 

Housing First for Youth offers safe housing for young adults ages 18-24 and ongoing aftercare. They also support the full transition into their adult life. Without an aftercare plan and a sense of support, the odds of a young individual falling back into homelessness are high. Housing First for Youth facilitates positive, supportive relationships between the young homeless and their caseworkers, making them feel less alone in the world. 

To help young people exit homelessness and live independently, they need safe housing and continued support. There are currently no social housing programs specifically for young individuals. There are risks when young people reside in accommodations inhabited by adults including intimidation, exploitation and exposure to criminal behaviors.

Other organizations in Ireland have recognized the prevalence of youth homelessness and made efforts to provide safe spaces and support for disadvantaged young people. Good Shepard Cork caters to homeless individuals ages 15-19, specifically focusing on women and children that are susceptible to fall back into homelessness. Continued support is essential to ending youth homelessness in Ireland and lifting these young people out of poverty permanently.

The six-year study published by The Health Research Board illustrates the effects of an impoverished childhood. By conducting research such as this long-term study, officials can pinpoint the early causes that lead to a life of poverty and find ways to intervene. Ensuring that struggling youth remain in school and receive ongoing support can help to reduce youth homelessness in Ireland.

Prioritizing Homeless Youth

Investing in community and school-based prevention methods has helped reduce youth homelessness by 40% in Australia and Canada. To reduce youth homelessness in Ireland, the government must follow their lead and pivot toward prevention rather than emergency services. By prioritizing the homeless youth in government policies and services, the state can prevent long-term homelessness and reduce overall poverty rates in the country.

– Veronica Booth

Photo: Unsplash

The ActivistToday’s youth continue to make headlines by showing their passion for global activism. The increase in mass action against global injustices amplifies awareness of some of the world’s most pressing matters. The top five areas of concern for Gen Z youth are mental health, disease and famine, environmental issues, unemployment and education. According to a survey done in 2020, 20% of Gen Z youth often “donate or volunteer time to a cause.” The increased interest in global activism has captured the attention of major television networks, including CBS. The network plans to bring activism to primetime in fall 2021 with its new competition series, “The Activist.”

The Premise

The new show will center around six enthusiastic activists who will be split into three teams. A high-profile public figure will lead each team. The teams will compete to improve one of three critical global issues: education, health or the environment. The teams will receive judgment on how well they successfully campaign for their causes. The objective of each team is to establish influential movements that will publicize their message, spur action and propel the teams to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy. From there, the activists must gain funding and support from world leaders. During the season finale, the team with the most support will be crowned the winner. Some of the world’s most noteworthy musicians will also perform at the finale. The series is produced by Global Citizen, a “movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030.”

Relevance to Global Poverty

One of the issues participants in “The Activist” seek to address is education. In 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that roughly one out of five children do not attend school worldwide. The “upper-secondary out-of-school rate” is highest in low-income countries at almost 60%.

The show will also tackle public health issues. Governments in low-income countries spend an average of $23 per person per year on health. This is extremely low when compared to the staggering rate of $3,860 per person spent by the U.S. government. Furthermore, child mortality rates in low-income nations are more than 10 times higher than in wealthy nations.

Lastly, “The Activist” plans to emphasize environmental issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that climate change will cause more than 250,000 deaths by 2030 due to heat stress, malaria and malnutrition. Climate change is especially troubling for low-income countries because of their susceptible geographical locations and their weakened ability to survive damage caused by extreme weather and elevating sea levels.

Inspiring Action

“The Activist” will be a platform to educate viewers on these imperative global issues and motivate the global population to support laws and policies beneficial to improving conditions in developing countries. By showcasing the hard work and commitment of Gen Z activists, others will hopefully be inspired to take action themselves. In all global issues, the commitment and activism of the youth will certainly have a marked impact.

Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr

Youth Apprenticeships in Nigeria The African nation of Nigeria is prioritizing its growth and development. In a tough economic climate of high unemployment and poverty, the youth of Nigeria are motivated to prepare for the future. While classroom learning is undoubtedly important, students are also pursuing a different type of education, oftentimes on top of their schoolwork. Informal Nigerian apprenticeships provide children with personalized vocational training from the master craftsmen of their communities. The benefits of youth apprenticeships in Nigeria are particularly advantageous for children who face a lack of education and extreme poverty. Youth apprenticeships in Nigeria provide useful skills that increase children’s future employability and help them get a head start on their careers. Up to 49% of children are involved in apprenticeships in some areas of Nigeria.

History of Apprenticeships

The master-apprentice relationship has been around for hundreds of years and its implementation can be seen all over the globe. The Igbo apprenticeship system became the prominent model for the Igbo ethnic group, who reside in Southeastern Nigeria. Once young learners prove their knowledge and ability, learners receive more responsibility in their given occupation until they eventually take over the enterprise from their mentor. Now, this same model has spread to different parts of the country and is an ingrained part of the culture. The modern version of this system is different from before because it is not a strictly patrilineal arrangement. Today, apprentices do not have to be male or of relation to the master craftsman as in earlier times.

Benefits of Youth Apprenticeships in Nigeria

Nigerian apprenticeships are mindful of students’ school commitments. The apprenticeship system does not discourage academics but rather works in harmony with it. Hours are flexible and tend to be after school and on the weekends. In addition, many young people find that having a commitment apart from school keeps them busy and out of trouble. A typical age range for these child apprentices is between 10 and 15. In order to avoid malpractice or exploitation, the Nigerian Child Rights Act serves as protection, “but does not rule out children working altogether.” This specification is in place because working can be very advantageous to Nigerian children and restricting work could actually add to their economic difficulties and prevent their career development and economic progression.

Specialty trades for apprenticeships include farming, weaving, pottery, carving, bricklaying, mechanics, hairdressing and operating market stands. For children who are unable to complete their formal school education, being a skilled tradesman or artisan provides a steady alternative career track. Apprenticeships are generally unpaid, but some do provide small cash payments for children to afford basic necessities such as food and clothing. Even little contributions are extremely beneficial for the well-being of Nigerian families in poverty.

Reducing Rates of Poverty

Nigerian apprenticeships can help to ease pre-existing pressures that stem from high unemployment rates and increasing rates of poverty. On top of the potential money generated from apprenticing, the pupil may have the opportunity to take over the mentor’s position in the future with the knowledge of the inner workings of the operation.

Apprenticeships allow more people to have access to financial freedom and present an antidote to global poverty. Overall, Nigerian youth apprenticeships are bringing positive benefits to the country. The likelihood of youth falling further into poverty sees a drastic reduction and personal development becomes a reality.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

Job Shortage in IraqGetting a college degree in Iraq doesn’t mean that you have a guaranteed job in your field after graduating, let alone a job in any field. The job shortage in Iraq has led to an increase in poverty and has destroyed the dreams of many graduates. This job shortage is an ongoing conflict that impacts the goals of the young generations in Iraq. According to the World Bank, 22% of men and almost 64% of women between 15-24 years are unemployed in Iraq.

Iraq’s Economy

With billions going yearly to its public service, the nation is in an economic vise. It has been estimated that public employees get about 17 minutes of work done every day. Currently, Iraq is the seventh-largest country producing oil, but oil revenue has been decreasing. The nation spends little of the income it generates on potential economic development of the implementation of projects. Iraq is unable to pay its bills due to a lack of funds. This led to a financial meltdown, which resulted in the fall of the government after widespread movements against corruption and unemployment. The marches were centered against high state officials in a community where unemployment hovers about 15% and one in every four people lives in poverty, earning as little as $2.20 per day.

Youth Unemployment

Approximately 700,000 young Iraqis join the employment market every year. A primer published for the World Bank on job development in Iraq listed the youth unemployment rate at 36%. There is no noticeable difference in the rate of unemployment between young people with primary education and those with higher degrees. Because of this, Iraqi youth have been at the frontline of occupation riots in Iraq. Similar to Iran, the country’s poor budget management and corruption have been central to their outrage.

Iraq’s prosperity is largely dependent on its ability to build employment for the young population. This is particularly true of university-educated young people. A study by the World Bank estimates that Iraq needs to increase the number of jobs by 100 to 180% to address its workforce needs sufficiently.

Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs)

The International Labor Organization (ILO), together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of Iraq (MOLSA), is implementing DWCPs in Iraq. DWCPs are systems for financial guidance that focus on creating jobs through the growth of the private sector. They also assist with the expansion of social security coverage, freedom of association and National Employment Policy design and implementation. In March 2020, in response to a request by MOLSA, the ILO formed the first cooperation department for Iraqi counties in the city of Baghdad. With a budget of $17.5 million, the program is implementing five projects to encourage quality work and increase job opportunities. These projects will help Iraq’s government, employees and employers.

Overall, there are high hopes for the country’s future. The youth are not going to stop demanding change until they get it. With big changes the government is hoping to make in the next decade, there could be a possible decrease in the rate of unemployment.

– Rand Lateef
Photo: Flickr

Global Citizen CorpsNearly 90% of young individuals reside in underdeveloped nations and in developed countries, over half of them do not have jobs, go to school or have formal training. The lack of financial opportunities leads adolescents to join terrorist groups to earn a basic income and to gain a sense of identity. To combat the problem, Mercy Corps created a program called The Global Citizen Corps (GCC) to reduce participation in terrorist groups and to influence adolescents to make positive changes in the lives of adolescents.

Mercy Corps’s Global Citizen Corps (GCC) Program

Mercy Corps came to fruition in 1979 and assists foreign countries going through difficult times, such as war, natural disasters, economic crisis and political turmoil. Through the establishment of the GCC program in 2003, the organization focuses on helping young individuals improve their future and communities.

First, the program allows adolescents from the United States to chat online with other young individuals residing in the Middle East. With the use of narratives, conversations and volunteer work, the American youth educate foreign counterparts about the ability to seek data, how to speak up, the skills needed to be a leader and what it takes to make a difference in communities. Furthermore, the program works with each country’s government, local businesses and third sector to help the youth find employment. The GCC examines every procedure and method created by each of these institutions to ensure fairness for all citizens. In particular, the GCC helps advocate for better various projects for adolescent job search.

The GCC also provides basic resources and a safe space for young people who do not own a residence. The program assists young individuals to feel secure in any environment by introducing therapy and treatment. The program meets the emotional and physical needs of adolescents to prevent youth participation in terrorist groups. Lastly, the GCC gathers thousands of adolescents from all over the globe to participate in the program’s leadership course. The course allows young individuals from around the world to establish relationships, come to a mutual understanding about how to improve environments and inspire other adolescents to engage in community service.

GCC’s Impact

Since the program’s inception, GCC taught 15,000 young individuals about occupational skills, financial knowledge, job searching and interpersonal competence in 2009. Additionally, approximately 60,000 adolescents participated in community service, ranging from neighborhood gatherings to raising awareness for important issues in 2009. The GCC program caught the attention of nearly 12 million young citizens through social media and other news outlets in the same year.

Hope for the Future

All in all, the Mercy Corps’ GCC program aids in lowering youth participation in terrorist groups by creating online chat forums, advocating for fair institutional rules and practices, attending to adolescent basic needs and teaching leadership classes. The wide range of information and opportunities drive young individuals to advocate for positive change in youth life and nearby communities. When the youth put time and attention toward productive activities, joining a terrorist group appears unappealing. As the Global Citizen Corps program reaches more young citizens living in war-torn countries, the decline of terrorism looks achievable.

– Samantha Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

 

Help Liberian Youth
The Liberian Civil War lasted from 1989 to 2003, leaving the education system completely broken. Before the war, there were around 2,400 schools. However, after the war, only 480 schools remained. Edman Zayzay, founder of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Organize For Liberia (OFL), had a dream as a young boy of one day becoming an astronaut. He blames the war for stripping him of that dream. Organize For Liberia gave Liberian youth the opportunity to animate their dreams. Edman Zayzay wanted to improve society’s conditions for all Liberians and help Liberian youth gain access to resources.

Increased Education

OFL focuses on educating Liberian girls specifically. More than half of Liberian women and girls are illiterate. In Liberian culture, girls are the caretakers of the family. Duties include cooking, cleaning, tending the family farm and bearing children of their own. The more responsibilities girls have at home, the less time they have to go to school.

Organize For Liberia encourages its educators to develop relationships with parents. Most parents never had the means for school themselves and do not understand the importance of education. It is rare that parents make the sacrifice and allow education and opportunities for their daughters. If girls attend school, it allows them to pass what they learn to their families and ultimately spread knowledge to their community. If girls have careers or life goals, they should receive support to achieve them. Education helps develop sound decision-making skills to build a healthy future for themselves.

Youth Engagement Mentorship Program

Organize For Liberia pairs adult leaders with young people, giving mentees the opportunity to showcase what a post-war childhood looks like. It is common for minors living in poverty to resort to prostitution to earn food or shelter. Many young women are victims of abuse and rape. The OFL mentorship program encourages young women to value themselves and build connections with friends, family and the community to increase support and self-love. Young people learn the value of life experience and living responsibly, and the mentors learn the value of the influence young people have on Liberia’s future. Together, the pairing has the potential to bring social change to society.

Adolescent Pregnancy Awareness

The birth rate in Liberian adolescents is one of the highest in the world where about one in three adolescent girls are pregnant. About 19% of Liberian girls marry by age 15, while almost half of them marry before age 18. Younger women experience a higher-risk pregnancy. Many young mothers become pregnant against their will. Sadly, Liberia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Organize For Liberia raises funds to support pregnancy awareness. This can help Liberian youths in more ways than one. Pregnancy leaves many girls unprepared. OFL encourages pregnant students to remain in school and to not give up on their education because of their pregnancy.

The STEM Initiative

Organize For Liberia’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative offers education opportunities outside of the typical classroom. OFL offers after-school and summer programs that encourage computer and technology education. Those interested in science and engineering fields can further their computer skills with robotics programming courses. Funding keeps science books and technology journals in school libraries. The future of Liberia is dependent on the education of the young men and women who could grow to become the future innovators that rebuild Liberia’s society.

Civic Education

Scarred by war and adversities, Liberians often become violent after an election. Organize for Liberia encourages peaceful and informed protests. The more Liberians understand their political system, the less detached and forgotten they feel in a post-election environment. Citizens lost faith in the political system after the Liberian Civil War. Civic education informs young people of their rights. It benefits the youth in relation to defending themselves against systemic oppression. For instance, the right to vote helps Liberian youth to have a voice and active role in social justice and development.

Organize For Liberia formed to give hope to Liberian youths who can feel hopeless to the circumstances they were born into. Education is the building block for young people dreaming of a life different than the one their parents led. Increased funding allows the opportunity for education. The main reason parents cannot keep their children in school is that they lack funding for supplies and they rely on their children for help at home. If the Liberian youth have funding to provide school supplies, it would allow the window of opportunity to open up. As a result, the Liberian youth can grow to help their own children have improved lives. Gradually, education and resources will help Liberian youth accomplish those goals. Ultimately gender balance and opportunities begin in the classroom and OFL believes that every life, regardless of class or gender, has equal value.

Sarah Ottosen
Photo: Flickr

Indonesian Youth Programs
Around 85 million children live in Indonesia, making up one-third of the country’s population. Children are necessary for their country’s future, and the education and opportunities they receive are what allow them to have that impact. That is why it is important for children to have programs and organizations that give them more opportunities and allows them to realize their full potential. Several Indonesian youth programs provide these opportunities to children in Indonesia. The Indonesia Youth Foundation, Indonesian Youth Opportunities in International Networking (IYOIN) and Indonesian Youth Diplomacy are prime examples of Indonesian youth programs that aid children in education, provide resources and give them outlets to channel their passions.

Indonesia Youth Foundation

The Indonesia Youth Foundation began on July 23, 2020, as a non-governmental organization. Its objectives include connecting the children of Indonesia and other global youth through a variety of youth activities, offering general knowledge about the country and taking part in world advancement and the development of youth.

One can track the organization’s Youth Empowerment program through a series of articles on the organization’s official website, each entry providing tips on subjects such as boosting productivity and caring for mental health. Also featured is information on education and tourism to provide a better understanding of Indonesia.

Indonesian Youth Opportunities in International Networking

Indonesian youths created IYOIN in 2015. Since then, the self-started Indonesian youth program has spread across several different regions in Indonesia, with 18 local chapters.

The purpose of this organization is to serve as a medium for children in Indonesia to congregate, share and work together to realize their values for the country. The opportunities that this program provides also aim to improve the Indonesian youths’ education and to ensure that the youth will have the qualifications to tackle their futures successfully.

IYOIN became a United Nations SDSN Youth Member in 2017, a program that works to guarantee education that is inclusive and equal for all, in addition to encouraging learning opportunities. IYOIN joined this program because these goals align with its own mission.

Indonesian Youth Diplomacy

Indonesian Youth Diplomacy is a nonprofit Indonesian youth program that promotes and provides international exposure and empowers the next generation of Indonesian leaders. Known initially as G20 Youth Indonesia, efforts to form the organization began in 2010. This process continued in 2011 when the Indonesian Organizing Committee emerged to recruit Indonesian youth interested in contributing to the annual G20 Youth Summit. Recognizing the necessity of involving Indonesian youth in diplomacy beyond what the G20 program provides, the organization updated in 2013. Now known as the Indonesian Youth Diplomacy, it sends Indonesia’s promising young leaders to represent the country in international forums to raise awareness of diplomacy.

Youth programs can offer multiple benefits to children. They provide youth with quality education, a chance to involve themselves in their community and learn essential life skills and create a healthy social environment. All three of the organizations give these opportunities to the children of Indonesia. These Indonesian youth programs are crucial to allow children to spread their wings and learn since the youth are the backbone of their country.

– Celia Brocker
Photo: Flickr

Youth Workforce
Pakistan is looking to bridge the skills gap between Pakistan’s youth workforce and the upcoming demands of its rising technology and automation markets. Structural change is necessary for Pakistan as the growing youth population faces challenges such as a rising unemployment rate and socioeconomic and gender disparities that keep students out of the classroom. In 2020, youth in Pakistan faced an unemployment rate as high as 8.5%; today, approximately 44% of children and teenagers are out of school. With 64% of the population younger than 30, Pakistan has more young people than ever who have the power to revolutionize its workforce by becoming re-skilled in relevant and desirable industries.

Pakistan’s Fourth Industrial Revolution

Pakistan is ushering in its fourth industrial revolution with a big challenge to overcome: enrolling more youth in schools where they can begin working with technology at an early age. This is especially critical as countries are growing increasingly dependent on online learning and employment during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.

Pakistan’s rising investments in automation, e-commerce, digital payment systems and more requires the youth workforce to keep pace with new technologies. Such growth poses many new opportunities for the nation, including modernizing technology and making tasks such as digital banking and online learning easier.

According to Parwaaz, a reskilling initiative that the World Economic Forum supports, the top 10 skills of 2025 include:

  • Technology Use & Monitoring
  • Technology Design
  • Critical Thinking & Analysis
  • Active Learning & Learning Strategies
  • Reasoning, Problem Solving & Ideation
  • Analytical Thinking & Innovation
  • Resilience & Stress Tolerance
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Leadership & Social Influence
  • Creativity & Originality

These skills can take the Pakistani youth beyond their current capabilities by smoothing their transition into the workforce while giving existing employees opportunities for career advancement.

A Multistakeholder Approach to Success

Pakistan’s largest skills development fund, the Punjab Skills and Development Fund (PSDF), is partnering with the World Economic Forum to join the “Reskilling Revolution.” According to Managing Director Saadia Zahidi, the goal of the revolution is to bring better work, skills and education to over 1 billion people by 2030. Challenges to reskilling include high costs, disconnects between training and relevant skills and few private training opportunities. However, with the launch of Parwaaz, a more structured form of reskilling is underway.

A multi-stakeholder public and private skills training initiative, Parwaaz has pinpointed six sectors that require trained workers in order to accommodate future market demands. These sectors include:

  • ICT
  • Financial Services
  • Textile
  • Hospitality
  • Retail and Services
  • Manufacturing & Light Engineering
  • Agriculture & Livestock

Parwaaz is expecting to change the core skills of 40% of workers in the country, raise the rate of automation from 33% in 2020 to 47% by 2025 and give two out of three employers returns on human capital investment. It plans to achieve this by creating incubators that will train 1,000 young people by June 2021 in market-relevant skills. Parwaaz will continue to function with financial and policy support from the Pakistani government and support from other stakeholders such as educational institutions and industry experts.

Integrating Pakistan’s youth workforce into new, more advanced markets is a nationwide effort that will result in high-performing companies, skilled employees, increased innovation and a stable structure for the future. Ultimately, investments in technology, automation and the growing youth workforce will lead to a brighter future for everyone while helping lift vulnerable populations of poverty.

Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

Suicide in GreenlandBetween 1970 and 1980, the suicide rate in Greenland was seven times higher than that of the United States. The high incidences of suicide in Greenland stemmed from the devaluing of local Inuit culture which occurred when Denmark pushed to modernize the island. Due to a lack of adequate resources, improvements have been slow. However, as mental health has become destigmatized, various NGOs and government programs have appeared over the last decade with promising solutions to address suicide in Greenland.

Suicide in Greenland Today

In 2016, the global average annual suicide rate was 16 persons per 100,000. In Greenland, the annual suicide rate was 82 persons per 100,000.

Suicide is not evenly distributed across Greenland’s population. Teenagers and young adults are at the highest risk of suicide. According to the Nordic Centre of Welfare and Social Issues, the prevalence of suicide in Greenland is three times higher among 20 to 24-year-olds than 25 to 65-year-olds.  Additionally, 23% of teenagers and young adults reported that they have self-harmed.

Recognizing Risk Factors

Due to the rapid modernization of the 1970s and 1980s, many people emigrated to the cities and larger settlements for economic and educational mobility. However, once there, they needed to assimilate to appear more Danish. The loss of identity that followed saw communities turn to alcohol, which in turn led to child abuse and neglect — two major risk factors for suicide. This erosion of family structure made it hard for individuals to cope with emotional and psychological hardships.

Combating Suicide in Greenland

Over the last couple of decades, the government and several NGOs created programs to combat this endemic.

  • SAAFIK – Established in 2011, this nation-wide counseling center extends medical, psychological, social and legal support to child victims of sexual abuse.
  • Break the Silence, End the Violence – In 2014, The Ministry of Family, Gender Equality and Social Affairs launched a three-year campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence. To this end, the Ministry established a web page about violence and information campaigns.
  • SAPIIK – This peer mentoring program is focused on reducing the number of children who drop out of school. Through social activities and outings, SAPIIK focuses on improving a child’s intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
  • School Fairy System – This program places a social worker, known as a School Fairy, in schools to help students who need social support. The School Fairy engages students through conversation and activities. The School Fairy also reports concerns and observations to the school when he or she deems that special interventions are required.
  • TIMI ASIMI –  Founded in 2011, this is an outdoor-based intervention program geared toward at-risk teens and young adults, ages 13 to 21. Throughout the course of three months, participants engage in educational courses, community service, academic counseling and physical activities.
  • Project CREATes – Over the course of two years, this project utilized storytelling as an effective way of eliciting personal experiences related to both suicide and resilience. These workshops were safe spaces for the arctic’s youth to come together and share their experiences with suicide and mental health. Facilitators worked with youth to help them to write, audio record, photograph or film their own stories as a way of healing. Though Project CREATeS ended in 2019, it was just one part of a series of programs created by the Arctic Council to combat suicide in the arctic. It was succeeded by Local2Global, another suicide prevention program focused on fostering community and creating digital projects for storytelling.

Greenland has come a long way since the 1980s. People are now able to talk about suicide and get help for mental issues. With more initiatives and resources, suicide in Greenland can decrease to match the global average or even undercut it.

Riley Behlke
Photo: Flickr

Little Light UgandaLittle Light Uganda is a nonprofit organization located in Namuwongo Slum, which is in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Since its establishment in 2007, Little Light’s mission has been to provide aid to those in the community who are living in poverty.

Little Light Helps Uganda

Uganda’s economy has had a reduction in growth because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a locust invasion and heavy rains that led to flooding. With subsequent job loss along with the economic decline, programs like Little Light Uganda are essential for giving help to those in need. Little Light’s services include “giving access to proper education, economic empowerment and psycho-social support.”

Little Light Uganda has two groups in the organization, its youth group and its women’s group. The youth group, officially known as Spoon Youth, aims to provide the young people in Namuwongo a safe and reliable environment. The group also educates children on how to navigate life living in poverty, including matters of crime and violence. Children and youth make up more than 70% of Namuwongo’s population, half of them without parents, which is why Little Light works to provide them sanctuary and resources.

Women’s Empowerment Group

The mothers of children in the youth group are invited into Little Light’s women’s empowerment group, called “Umoja,” which is Swahili for “Unity.” The group’s mission is to give women living in the Namuwongo slum tools to better their economic and social situation. Members of the women’s group meet every afternoon at the organization to make authentic African jewelry from recycled newspapers and hand-rolled beads. The jewelry is marketed in Uganda and abroad to provide an income and livelihood for women.

Mama Pendo Jewelry

The name the group has coined for the jewelry brand is Mama Pendo, which translated from Kiswahili means “The Mother of Love.” The initiative aims to improve the quality of life for refugees and single mothers trying to provide their children with an education.

Little Light Uganda volunteers have worked with the women to support their hard work and create a website for their jewelry to be sold. The proceeds from sold jewelry go toward projects the women feel passionate about, all of which intend to benefit the conditions for struggling women and other vulnerable individuals.

Combating Malaria and COVID-19

One of the group’s projects is dedicated to fighting malaria in Uganda, which is one of the main causes of death in the country. According to the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, between 70,000 to 100,000 children in Uganda die from the disease every year. The group uses money earned from sold bracelets to buy an organic mosquito-repellent soap, which is given to disadvantaged families that live in places that are more vulnerable to malaria.

The women have also created an initiative to combat COVID-19. Since hygiene is an essential tool for preventing the spread of the virus, the group has pledged one bar of soap for a family in Namuwango living in poverty for every website purchase.

Women’s Empowerment for Poverty Reduction in Uganda

Little Light Uganda does a lot for its community with initiatives like the Mama Pendo project. Not only is the organization helping those in need but it is also empowering women living in poverty. Women with more resources and liberation are more likely to pursue their own education and prioritize the health, nutritional and educational needs of their children.

– Celia Brocker
Photo: Flickr