Atelier des Jeunes Citoyens et Citoyennes de la Méditerranée

The Algerian youth didn’t wait for the Hirak to make things happen. For many years, the young people have been engaging themselves for the good of their community. Crossed portraits

They are three thirty years old or almost. They all chose to be engaged, with their own way to defend their values. They are dealing with environment protection, patrimony or social inclusion for marginalized young people.

Souha Saadia Oulha plays  several roles. She is a 33 y.o woman from Bejaïa in Algeria 245 km far from Alger. Originally she got an optician formation and works sometimes in a shop. But Souha is firstly a famous face : Souha Oulha is a comedian playing for theatre, films or tv shows. Since her childhood she is passionate by nature. “My mother is very ecologist. I always saw her saving animals, and fighting against deforestation”, she explains this using her visibility.  In January, she posted a cleaning  awareness message and she is very proud of her last action, which is a video denouncing the concreting around the Mezaya Lac in Bejaïa. This old quarry became a house for migratory birds. An investor wished build playing ground without respecting the wet zone. “ Several associations were fighting to stop the concreting. That’s why she tells she made a “shouting”  video that got a certain impact. And in addition of this activism, Souha choses every friday (first day of week end) a place to clean up.

Souha Oulha does belong to any official group and she is attached to her independence : “an association is something sustainable, it needs a daily presence. I travel a lot due to my actress career. And moreover, I’m a bit wild. I like do the things by my own side. However I’m really friend and close to all the association of the country.”

Same goals but different stories for Assia Brahimi. At 34y.o she is vice-president of the association Santé Sidi El Houari (SDH) in Oran, 650 km far from Bejaïa. “My days end sometimes at 1 or 2:00 am, but It’s my pleasure cause I really want change things. In my job of humans resources manager I  achieve my job precisely with always the same method. I’m often saying that into an association, the mood aims to build an utopian world. It’s about a space of positivity. We try, and even if we fail, we try again and again”.

2011 she joined the SDH created 10 years ago. Firstly volunteer, Assia who are mother occupied many posts before becoming vice president of the association, which is today truly, a famous one like institution in Oran. “The SDH was created by a group of doctor who wanted to open a medical center in the popular neighbourhood of Sidi El Houari. They discovered an historical site of 6000 m2 with an hospital from 1836 and some Ottoman baths as well. Then they decided to clean it to achieve the transformation into a medical and social center” according to Assia Brahimi. The huge construction site lasted 8 years. 2000 tons of waste were collected before discovering “a magnificent but stolen place”. The associations goals went forward. And 2011 the site became a school-site. “We did formation with underprivileged young people, with a graduation as final objective.

Around 800 people entered in our school and we are talking about 500 at least who were recruited then. That’s is a part of the proudness of Assia Brahimi.

The SDH gets a socio-cultural pole that offers to children some activities related to art or environment. Different projects are implemented to organize some eco-citizen actions. These project start by the formation for young people in charged to use their new knowledges then. The programs depend of the fundings founded because the SDH doesn’t get sustainable funding. Assia describes with happiness that “We became a writing center for call for projects. We put them to the fridge and when it’s time we apply for. Until now, it’s successful fortunately because all of our activities are free and opened”

Kawter Nour has worked as manager for one of these project, called “Jeune pour la Paix et la Vie”. The goal was the diminution of violences at school, into the family and in the society. During two years, she organized formations for teachers and moderators in charge of awareness for a large public. Some discussion-groups were implemented. “In two years we organized more than 90 activities and offered a formation for one hundred of people”. At this time Kawter was salary of SDH for this project. However, she was 27 at the beginning and was volunteer for this association. “I’ve always been engaged. During my studies, I was representative for students. I’ve always had the wish to advocate for others.” Graduate with a audi-visual journalism  master degree, she discovered the SDH in 2013 while she had to produce a reporting project for her studies. She remembered that : “I chose the Oranese patrimony protection as topic. That’s why I visited the school-site. It was touching to see Algerian acting without losing time and without expecting anything.”

Attracted by this mood, she wished be engaged. “Once I proposed to integrate the association,  I’ve been welcomed. They gave me responsibilities and by the way I could find my place to be useful for the society.

Kawter Nour started by helping for school  children from the neighbourhood. She is today an active stakeholder of the SDH office, in addition of her post of community manager. The volunteer doesn’t hesitate to help other associations : “I’m often called to make some socio-cultural formations or to design posters”. The young woman enjoys her life in this associative world and has concluded her words by a moto that Souha Saadia Oulha, nor Assia Brahimi wouldn’t deny : “we assume and we do it”.