Interview with the National Yemen Newspaper

Jihan Anwar

Tareq Ahmed Hassan Al-Sharabie is the Chairperson of the International Youth Council (IYC) in Yemen. The 24 year-old is a student of chemical engineering and the leader of the International Students Union in Malaysia. He committed to opening a Yemeni branch of the council so that Yemeni youth may have the same opportunities he had.

“While it was difficult for me to take this on while also taking care of my university studies, when you have a dream and you think that dream is capable of benefiting your country, even in the slightest way, you will be inspired and motivated to work hard and make it happen.”

The International Youth Council was established in 2007 at the United Nations Youth Assembly. Its mission is to support and develop youth leadership around the world.

It promotes dialogue between youth from different countries grappling with issues of peace and stability. The organization provides a voice to all youth regardless of religion, race or ethnicity.

The objectives of IYC include encouraging discourse on democracy, engagement in politics and introduction to a human rights framework.

IYC Yemen was admitted as a non-profit organization by the UN International Youth Council on 26 July. Yemen became one of 29 countries in the world with an operative branch of the IYC.

It was while Al-Sharabie was in Japan last year for a separate conference that he came in contact with IYC. He was so impressed with the organization he decided to join.

“It was a dream for me to establish a youth organization such as this in my country and enable Yemeni youth to gain solid leadership skills as well to develop their skills and talents so that they may assist the country in different areas.”

He invested so much energy on the initiative after seeing the stark contrasts between countries that had branches of the IYC and Yemen, which did not have a branch.

With the support of two friends, Abdulrhaman Al-Asali and Sohib Jaber, Tareq contacted the leadership of the IYC in the US and submitted a proposal in January 2012. IYCY was officially recognized in July.

IYC Yemen counts 500 members and an active steering committee of 20 members. Five overseas members help IYC Yemen coordinate with other organizations worldwide.

IYC Yemen member Naseem Asda believes the most challenging problems facing young people today are unemployment, corruption and poor education.

“Some suggest that it’s the government’s responsibility to address these issues, but how long would we be waiting for the government to extend a helping hand,” asked Asda.

She believes the solution lies with youth and civil society organizations. The latter sharing more values with the youth than the government.

“These organizations can lead youth to discover the hidden energies inside them that they may use to overcome any challenges,” Asda said. “As long as they are motivated by a dream, they can realize it.”

Al-Sharabie spoke of the indifference with which the government often treats youth initiatives.

He recalled an invitation he was given to attend the World Youth Congress in Brazil to represent Yemen. He could not find any financial assistance to attend and missed the conference.

“When we hear of the kind of support offered to other branches of the IYC, we are saddened by the disinterest in our country towards youth initiatives,” Al-Sharabie said.

The country cannot be developed with the President and government’s efforts alone, said Al-Sharabie. The country needs social and community organizations.

He called on society to support effective and productive organizations working in the field of youth empowerment.

Despite all the challenges, Al-Sharabie is confident that Yemeni youth will change Yemen for the better.

He hopes IYC Yemen can improve the lives of Yemeni youth and allow them to help shape the country.

“We need to stand up, face the challenges that face our country and never lose hope in a better tomorrow.”

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