Seeking Peace from Somalia to Dharamshala

Meeting for the first time in Dharamshala, India over the course of seven days in October, I had the opportunity to meet Goldin Institute team member Jimmie Briggs with whom I shared the unique opportunity to not only be in intimate dialogue with Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate the Dalai Lama, but be in community with nearly two dozen global youth peacemakers from around the world. The program which brought them together was the United States Institute of Peace’s (USIP) “Generation Change” initiative.

I was selected to participate as a grassroots youth leader based on my organizing work in Puntland, Somalia; while Jimmie attended as a mentor based on his past with the organization on the issue of child soldiers and SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) against women and girls. In total, I was joined by 26 youth leaders from 14 countries spanning the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.

Gather Fellow Abdiweli Waberi Meets with the Dalai Lama

Through a competitive call for online application to a youth exchange program for young peacebuilders from around conflict zones of the world, I was able to secure a position. I had high expectations for my trip to Dharamshala!  I was very excited to meet with inspiring and courageous youth leaders from across the world to learn from them and see and hear their experiences in bringing peace and change within their communities.

Goldin Institute’s Jimmie Briggs was one of half a dozen mentors present throughout the trip, including accompanying the youth leader cohort to meet with the Dalai Lama, as well as participate in group exercises and workshops. As Jimmie told me:

[quote]In fact, I met His Holiness a number of years ago at a peace conference in Derry, Northern Ireland, but this was my first opportunity to actually sit and have a true conversation. It was definitely a memorable visit. -- Jimmie Briggs, Goldin Institute Director of Community Learning [/quote]


My trip to Dharamsala was another step taking me forward toward a bright future in my career and life. I hoped to meet with thought leaders who were source of wisdom and experts in building sustainable peace for communities and I did. To listen to their powerful, personal and professional experiences -- as well as the choices they have made -- met, exceeded and surpassed my expectations.

[quote]The Dalai Lama said to me that ‘Humans are social animals and everyone needs a community survive.’ This statement taught me the importance of building strong connections between active citizens of my community to unite their efforts and avoid conflict of interest between them. [/quote]

I was able to participate in this unique opportunity as the Chairperson of the Somali branch of the African Youth and Child Network for Human Rights (REJADH), but also as a participant in the inaugural class of GATHER Fellows. It was a whirlwind trip, as I graduated as a GATHER Fellow exactly two weeks after returning home from India. Without question, my experience with the Dalai Lama and fellow youth peacemakers in USIP’s Generation Change improves the project I developed through GATHER and deepens my commitment to work for peace.

This reaffirmed my strong believe towards the old saying “Your network is your net-worth.”

You can learn more about the project I am working on and get involved by visiting my Indiegogo campaign!