3 min read

Supporting Somali Communities in Calgary

Carya recently launched a new Community Development project with Calgary’s Somali people, a community which came to Canada fleeing civil war in the mid-nineties.

Calgary is home to more than 4,500 Somalis, many of whom reside in the communities of Radisson, Killarney, Beltline and Forest Lawn.  39% of Somalis living in Calgary are under the age of 18 and 22% of families are single parent families.

Carya has recruited members of the city’s Somali community to spearhead the project and bring its mission and vision to life.

“Many of these families are suffering from isolation, trauma and stress” says Hanan Mohamed, Carya’s Somali Community Development Facilitator.  “Somali families typically have a lot of children which, especially for single parents, adds to the emotional and financial pressures they’re under.  Many women feel they have nowhere to go for help”.

The project aims to support Somali women by providing resources and community groups where connections can be made and isolation reduced.  One meet-up, run by volunteers, is a sewing group attended by more than 20 Somali women.

“The aim is to bond the group through culture and language” said Tufaax Sayid, Community Broker for Somali Women. “We want to connect them with resources in the Somali community while also building trust in resources within the wider Calgary community.”

At risk youth are also a priority for the project and Mohamad Farah, Community Broker for Somali Youth, believes this is where the project could really change the future for his community.

“Somali youth have too much time on their hands and not enough direction” said the Farah who is currently completing his BA in economics at the UofC, “too many of them are dropping out of school.”

A Somali Scout group was formed earlier in 2015 and has now reached capacity for the space they have available. “The kids love Scouts” said Farah. “It’s been a great way to integrate the kids with other communities like Bowness Scout Group.  But we need more space to take in more kids.”

Mohamed Jama, President of the Somali Canadian Society of Calgary, said “We need to create opportunity and improve conditions for the Somali community in Calgary and help them feel they’re not alone. The dream is to have a community space where people can meet and share and learn together.”

Provided Carya can secure additional funding, the Somali Community Development Project will run for three years. It will then be fully handed back to the community to continue the good work.

The project desperately needs volunteers and recreational space within specific Calgary communities. The program also requires donated items like sewing machines, computers and resources for youth.

If you would like to help, please contact Sidney at: SidneyC@caryacalgary.ca. To learn more about the program, you can also visit the project website here.