Abrahim Simmonds, social worker and recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award.
Abrahim is a prolific youth leader and aspiring policy maker. He is a co-founder of the Jamaican Youth Empowerment through Culture, Arts and Nationalism (JAYECAN). JAYECAN helps young persons to identify a skill or talent that they can use to help the community and it creates programmes which use the arts to drive positive change. These include ArtReach, where volunteers visit children’s homes and rehabilitation centres to provide music, art and drama sessions; and Herstory, which encourages young women from disadvantaged communities to use writing and the spoken word to help them to explore their past.
The twenty two years old Jamaican is a devoted Christian who grew up in a single parent home. "Well my mother was our bread winner on her own. There were days we did not have money, we went without a lot of things, like food sometimes. It never bothered me and my mom did not allow us to live at a lower quality of life than anyone else. She went the extra mile to get us all that we needed and more," he noted.
Determined to surpass his challenges he got a scholarship in 2013 for the entire duration of university. This and other opportunities helped him through school. Inspired by his challenges, Abrahim is now committing his life to the service of others. "I know what it felt like to need help," he affirmed.
"What motivates me? My mom and the journey that I am on. I would be very ungrateful to say that I am not growing and my circumstances are not way better than I started. I believe that there are lots in store for me and my family and I am open to the blessings. I live to serve others and for that reason I believe my life and family will be blessed."
"Success for me is in two-folds. Inner: I am satisfied that I have met my life goals. I can comfortably meet my needs. Outer: Knowing that I am pleasing to God. I have made my mother proud and I am able to help others. In the long term, I hope to become a policy maker. I feel that practical work is important but the paper work is critical to development. I also want to become a University Professor."
His message to others
I hope that young people will understand that our challenges do not have to shape who or what we become. The key to success is tapping into our skills and environmental resources and using them for our own betterment. Never worry about the friends you lose along the way. Don't get flustered with unrequited love and the people who have done you wrong. Place you at the centre of the universe and allow every other element to work for you. Be sure to connect with people who are where you want to be and bench mark their processes. When you share what you have, you will only grow more.
Abrahim is truly an inspiration for youth across the region and we anticipate much more from him.