Founded in 2016, Mobdiun – Creative Youth inspires youth to lead change and help build a peaceful democracy in Tunisia using arts, the promotion of active citizenship, and technology. Mobdiun utilized the seed funding provided by the Innovative Peace Fund (IPF) to establish their organization. They have since leveraged their support from the IPF to secure funding from three other donors. Mobdiun works with young people in marginalized communities susceptible to violent extremism and provides them with opportunities to build skills and gain access to resources and networks. They consult young men and young women to understand and address how violent extremism affects them each differently. They also mobilize government, private sector, and civil society actors in order to foster policy dialogues and create change around issues related to youth.
Research, Art, and a Functioning Social State: How to Prevent Violent Extremism
In 2016, the IPF awarded Mobdiun its first grant as an organization to conduct initial research on youth empowerment in Western Kram. In 2017, when Tunisia had the highest number of foreign fighters per capita in the world, Mobdiun developed a program to prevent youth from recruitment by violent extremist groups and inspire them to bring positive change through peaceful and creative means. The IPF’s support enabled Mobdiun to continue their in-depth qualitative research to assess the drivers and resilience factors of violent extremism, which resulted in their report, Being a Teenager in Kram Ouest: Seven Years after the Revolution of January 14th, 2011 in Tunisia. This work showed the necessity of developing youth skills and engaging vulnerable youth in afterschool activities. Mobdiun also engaged local and national authorities to share their work and the research findings.
In 2018, Mobdi’un received additional IPF funding to directly target vulnerable youth, such as youth who have experienced social and economic exclusion and those with relatives, neighbours, or friends that have joined ISIS or emigrated illegally, for after school activities. They utilized the findings of their previous research to hold a series of workshops for them. For example, they held a theatre workshop for a small group of teenagers, from which four participants wrote a play about their lives in Kram Ouest and the issues they face. The play presented solutions inspired by the recommendations from the research and was performed in Carthage for the participants’ families, friends, and peers, as well as members of the Municipal Council and media. The mayor of Kram Ouest attended the play and spoke afterward about his commitment to youth issues.
The project enabled youth to speak more openly about their lives and challenges and encouraged them to lead a more active role in their community.
Mobdiun signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education, which gave a directive to all local offices to cooperate with the organization, including giving them access to schools, students, and teachers. Mobdiun developed a working relationship with cultural centers in Kram Ouest, that continue to host many of the activities serving youth in the community. Mobdiun was invited to present its findings to Tunisia’s National Commission on the Fight Against Terrorism, the body which writes the Tunisian counter-terrorism strategy. They worked to ensure the inclusion of the voices and needs of local communities most at risk and impacted by violent extremism, specifically those of the youths.
Today, Mobdiun offers multiple workshops and services to teenagers and older youth covering the following topics:
- Arts: theater, voice & percussion, dance, drawing & design, literary writing, slam poetry
- Citizenship Engagement: Leadership Academy (a tailored program designed with Columbia University Design Studio in New York City to help youth engage in bringing change in their community), human rights, Tunisian history and current transition context, gender-based violence
- Financial Autonomy: soft and professional skills development for school dropouts, personal coaching, access to and navigating government employment agencies and training centers
- Psychological Support: psychosocial support sessions for youth
Mobdiun continues to apply the experience and knowledge gathered in the Kram Ouest neighborhood to write policy briefs on preventing violent extremism and youth civic engagement in marginalized neighborhoods of Tunisia.
Carried out qualitative research on the drivers and resilience factors towards youth involvement in violent extremism.
Invited to present research findings to the National Committee Against Terrorism.
“With small funding from ICAN, we were able to build trust with the youth, then we were able to reach policy makers.”
– Omezzine Khélifa
Founder and Executive Director of Mobdiun