International Youth Day 2020: Elham’s Story

Wednesday 12 August 2020

This International Youth Day, we join the global theme of “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, which seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced. This is a great opportunity to share the story of Elham, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman with hopes to make deep changes in her country.

“I’m not a refugee, but I came here for a better life,” Elham* told us. She moved to Egypt with her family at age 24 to seek medical treatment for her sick mother. She is a recently graduated nurse, and works with Save the Children’s Primary Health Care. “At the beginning of my work, I met refugees that had experienced very difficult situations, whether before moving to Egypt or after coming here. It wasn’t easy to gain their confidence to speak up, and when they did, I didn’t know how to deal with their problems.”

Elham participated in a two-month intensive training on gender-based violence with the Eastern Africa Migration Route project (EAMR). The training aimed at enhancing her capacity to be able to support women and advise them on how to protect themselves from gender-based violence (GBV). She says the training opened her eyes to many things that seemed acceptablesuch as FGM, child marriage and harassment. “I started with my sisters at home, and now I am working on a bigger scale. My aim is to increase the awareness of girls at all ages and from different nationalities about the various forms of violence and how they should protect themselves." 

Save the Children works to strengthen community-based mechanisms to enhance local capacity to prevent and respond to protection risks, including GBV. Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, EAMR works jointly with government, non-government and community-based actors with the aim of ensuring local institutions’ ownership and sustainable responses. The project is committed to increasing self-reliance through coordinated approaches that deliver integrated services for children at-risk of irregular migration, in transit, and upon arrival to longer-term destinations in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. 

Elham has become very self-confident, brave and ambitious since joining Save the Children. She aspires to start her Masters studies in Psychology, before moving her positive experience and knowledge back to her home country. “My dream is to hold awareness sessions for the girls and women in my community in Sudan, to encourage them to speak up for their rights and safety.” 

*Elham’s real name was changed for her safety.