Hodane Abokor has benefitted from the National Lottery-funded Somali Integration Society (SIS) and is now using her experiences and skills learnt through the group to help others. Here she explains how:
My name’s Hodane Abokor and I am a Somali mother to three children. I’ve been living in Cardiff for almost 18 years and started volunteering with SIS in 2007. This experience allowed me to build my confidence in a work place and gain substantial skills in administration, such as report and letter writing amongst other things.
Through the Sahan project, I was given the opportunity to assist the outreach officer in organising health workshops, trips and attending meetings. Soon enough I was able to hold the fort as our outreach officer went on maternity leave and carry on with great confidence empowering the community.
I can say that volunteering has improved my life, work opportunities and has given me great aspirations to focus on a career. I decided to train as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher in January 2008, realizing that this career move would enable me to support the vulnerable ladies in the ethnic minority community and help them integrate by giving them the everyday English language they need in order to be more independent. SIS as an organization carried on supporting me and I secured a pilot project with Basic Skills Cymru shortly after I’ve qualified. The classes were such a success that in January 2009, SIS and training provider Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) carried on and to date, over 50 women have benefited from this partnership. The majority of the ESOL learners were able to take part in workshops, trips, events and training that relate to the Sahan project.
One of the initiatives of the current Sahan project is working as a women officer where my colleague Hibo Mader and I support and advise women in the ethnic minority community living in Cardiff, and particularly Somali women. This support entails organising workshops on how to access employment in general and sometimes specific training they might need to enhance their chances of securing a chosen post. Often we would hold our health workshops such as Breast screening, Diabetes awareness strait after the women’s ESOL sessions to enable them to make the most of their time and day, offering light refreshments and childcare provision if necessary. On some occasions we take ladies and girls to various trips, such as educational, environmental and recreational. These trips have proved to be beneficial to families who don’t have the means or the opportunity to enjoy such breaks.