SENIORS AWARD 20-21 - Ahmed Tohow
Mr. Ahmed Tohow is an Australian citizen, having migrated from the Federal Republic of Somalia in 2000. He has embraced the Australia culture and the opportunities it affords migrants for a better life. However, the transition to Australia for senior Somali’s is detrimentally impacted by long term systematic trauma, due to their direct exposure to the horrors of civil war and associated famine and torture. Upon arrival to Australia, these seniors also experience significant social challenges posed by their limited formal education, lack of spoken and written English, racial discrimination, limited Australian cultural awareness and employment opportunities. They also encountered and continue to encounter stigma, cultural shock, discrimination and social exclusion from wider Australian society because of their appearance and clothing.
Mr. Tohow has been actively engaging with the elders residing in City of Banyule and surrounding areas, leveraging local government and charitable programs to bridge the cultural divide and provide a positive outlook for the elders and their families. His voluntary activities include small vegetable farming, bowling program, gentle exercise, education such as connecting basic English language and computer programs, group activities such as transcultural mental health and advocacy to access services such, family violence support, Centrelink, housing issues, family relationship, capacity on how to raise children in Australia.
In addition, Mr. Tohow provided cultural integration learnings by transporting the elders around Melbourne, showing them Melbourne historical sites, explaining the history and culture of Melbourne and also broader Australia. Mr. Tohow works collaboratively with other community organisations in order for the elder voices to be heard and build their skill and confidence to advocate themselves and connect to mainstream services and the community.
During the recent lockdown, Mr. Tohow provided a mechanism for resolving quarantine concerns, access to medicines, services and translated government brochures. This extended to elders residing within the lockdown of government housing in Melbourne’s north. Mr. Tohow listens to their stories, which help them with their issues of loneliness and isolation. He has observed their slow but progressive integration to the Australia culture and values.
Mr. Tohow serves on several national and international Somali Diaspora organisations and in 2018 was awarded the Ambassador for Peace award by the Universal Peace Federation.