Born in 2004, Rayan Yusuf Yahye, a young girl from Mogadishu, has faced more challenges in her young life than many do in a lifetime. Her story is one of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of community support.

Rayan’s father works with a three-wheel motorcycle, locally known as a Bajaj, which provides a modest income for their large family of fifteen. Her mother is a housewife, dedicating her time to taking care of the household. Despite her father’s hard work, the financial burden of supporting such a large family was immense, and his income was not adequate to meet all their needs.

“Watching my father struggle to provide for us was heart-wrenching,” Rayan recalled. “I knew I had to do something to help.” Rayan’s parents worked tirelessly to support their children, but the financial burdens were overwhelming. Despite these challenges, Rayan remained committed to her education and successfully completed high school.

While studying in high school, Rayan also pursued her passion for crochet. “Crochet is more than just a craft to me,” she explained. “It’s a way to express myself and create something beautiful from nothing. It’s my escape and my hope.” She spent hours perfecting her skills, creating intricate and beautiful crochet items. Rayan learned crochet from her mother and continued to hone her craft, planning for a future where she could help support her family after graduation.

However, without the proper tools and materials, her potential remained untapped. That was until Y-PEER, a national NGO that empowers young people, stepped in through the Somali Youth Employment Project (SOYEP), funded by Silatech. Recognizing Rayan’s talent and the financial hardships she faced, SOYEP provided her with a self-employment toolkit specifically for crochet. This toolkit included high-quality yarns, needles, patterns, and other essential supplies. “The toolkit from SOYEP changed everything,” Rayan said with a smile. “For the first time, I had the right tools to bring my ideas to life. It felt like someone believed in me and my dreams.”

With these tools, Rayan’s dreams began to take shape. She started creating a variety of crochet products, from elegant scarves and hats to beautiful home d├ęcor items. Each piece she crafted was a testament to her skill and creativity, reflecting the intricate beauty of Somali culture.

The income from selling her crochet products brought significant changes to Rayan’s life. Not only was she able to contribute to her family’s finances, easing her father’s burden, but she also began to envision a brighter future. “Selling my crochet products means I can support my family and help my father,” she shared proudly. “It also means I can continue to pursue my dreams.”

Rayan’s story is a powerful reminder of the impact of community support and self-determination. With the help of SOYEP and Y-PEER, funded by Silatech, she transformed her life, turning her passion into a means of livelihood. Her journey from a high school graduate to a young entrepreneur is an inspiring tale of hope and perseverance.

“I want to grow my business and help other young people in my community,” Rayan said, her eyes shining with determination. “Education is still my dream, and now I have the chance to pursue it. I believe we can overcome any challenge with hard work and support.”

Today, Rayan continues to dream big. She envisions expanding her crochet business, employing other young people in her community, and eventually pursuing higher education. Her story is a beacon of hope for many young girls in Mogadishu and beyond, showing that with resilience, support, and a bit of creativity, one can overcome even the most daunting challenges.