The United Youth Empowerment Services was founded April 18th, 2016 by four twenty-something family men
knowledgeable about refugee community needs, enthusiastic about educational filming, and willing to volunteer our time for
the good of our people.
United Youth Empowerment Services (United Y.E.S) is the brainchild of four friends who grew up together in
Lewiston after being transplanted from Southern Somalia through Kenyan refugee camps to Maine. We are by now a group
of twenty-something family men who share a love of multimedia production and maintain a firm commitment to helping our
community. Along with four young women who have recently joined our Board of Directors, we unite these twin
passions in projects to educate our struggling youth by producing instructional yet edifying short films to be posted on social
media for our teenagers to consume. In addition, we consider the transfer of media production skills to younger African
immigrants central to our mission.
Informally, however, from about 2010 to 2016 we existed under the name Dalanta Nabada (Youth of Peace). Back then, as new high
school graduates, we four organized more than twenty other young men and women to work together making and screening
digital videos. We had noticed that younger people (boys and girls ages 12-18) were too often failing in school and we were
acutely aware that their immigrant parents did not know how to help. In fact, the two generations were not having good
communication at all. The young ones were running too wild in the streets at that time. We called a meeting and proposed
making a film together. They each made their small donation when we met every Saturday. With those small contributions
adding up, we began to purchase our equipment.
Since 2016 United Youth Empowerment Services has been creating multi-cultural narrative films and documentaries for the Immigrant population in order to encourage refugee youth towards positive choices. Through lenses, we entertain and
educate our community.
One major reason we began the organization is because we are both hi-tech and “cool”; the youth believe in us. The youth
love what we are doing. We have to find something that they can hang onto to move forward. We are the only immigrant
NGO in Maine, indeed in all of New England, that is focusing on film and video production as a way of encouraging and
inspiring youth to be the best they can be. Our goal is to make Lewiston+Auburn a better place by helping youth to take a
better path in life.
Currently, we work on spreading health awareness, including COVID19. In fact we have created more than 25 videos on that topic in many languages (French, Maay Maay, Somali, English, Lingala, kiSwahili, Arabic, Nepali, and more). We have created scripted films about such social issues as substance abuse, intercommunity conflict, dismantling discrimination. Some of our scripted films are entertainment projects. Most are focused upon education and social uplift.
Over the years we have collaborated with many local non-profit organizations, area businesses, several individual filmmakers, and also worked with educational institutions such as Bates and Colby Colleges as well as the Lewiston public schools.
United Youth Empowerment Services films because we believe movies have something to say to the world. Videos bring
awareness of certain subjects to the public and can tell an interesting story about a historical event or person.
We appreciate your cooperation in helping us to make this project run.