“I know first hand how hard life is for children who do not grow up with their families. I lived it, I know it,” Yusuf tells us with conviction. “My father abandoned us when I was just 12 years old. I suddenly became the breadwinner and I had to grow up very fast,” Yusuf ponders solemnly at his past; a past that has shaped his present.
Today Yusuf is a father, a husband, and a community volunteer. Years later in his adulthood, he has made it his life mission to, in his own words, break the cycle of family separation in his community.
Yusuf wears many hats. He is a business trader and a religious leader, roles that he is passionate about. But according to Yusuf, the biggest hat that he wears is being a community volunteer in his village, a role that embodies who Yusuf is at his core.
He knows all too well, how, if communities come together to support families to stay together, children thrive. “The community supported us and took care of us. Were it not for our community, I would not be here,” Yusuf shared with us about his childhood. He now dedicates part of his time to support other families. “We are paying it forward, my wife and I. I always remember how my community supported me when I was just a young boy, it is now my time to give back.”
Community volunteers like Yusuf are key to keeping families together in their communities. They support families so they do not have to give up their children to an orphanage. “I encourage families in my community to stay with their children,” he says, “there is guidance in a family circle, children grow up healthy and as responsible leaders of tomorrow.”
Yusuf takes us to visit David’s family, just a stone throw away from his home. David’s family was on the verge of separating and giving up their children to an orphanage. Yusuf was able to talk to the parents and encourage them to stay together and work on their issues. “We now plan and make financial decisions together,” says David. “Yusuf has supported us a lot, which has helped our family stay together. We have opened a business together; our children are in school and learning without any challenges.”
To Yusuf, his community is his family. We could not do our work without our amazing community volunteers.
Community volunteers like Yusuf, strengthen the social-service workforce which is key in improving protection, health and well being for children, youth and families in our communities.