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Dylan Bub is on location in Tanzania to foster youth empowerment at The Umoja Centre in Arusha. Dylan shares his enthusiasm for going on his first YCI project and gives an insight into what it’s like to live and work in Tanzania as a YCI Youth Ambassador.
Why volunteer? Why leave the comfort and stability of everyday life knowing that life abroad will be tiring, different and sometimes difficult? Is it to teach others, to learn, to experience a new country, to meet new people and to make friends? I have the pleasure to be in Tanzania for 8-weeks this summer and I have already experienced all these things and more.
My experience in Tanzania so far has been beyond incredible. Having volunteered abroad before, I have had the thrill of immersing myself in this new country but as the saying goes, you never cross the same rivers twice.
In my first few weeks in Tanzania, I noticed a couple of unique things about this country that goes beyond the great weather, palm trees, and exotic food. The volunteers are all amazing people, each bringing a unique set of skills to their projects. Even more impressive are the in-country coordinators whom have been enthusiastic and welcoming to me since day one, making me feel completely at home. In the short time I have been in Tanzania, I can already feel that this trip will be life altering.
My particular placement is in Arusha where I have the pleasure of working with another YCI volunteer Katherine Lu at The Umoja Centre. This Centre is a fantastic place for Tanzanian youth since it equips students with the essential skills to help them achieve their future goals. Imagine having your future goal of going to secondary school, or opening a tourism business come to fruition through the support of the The Umoja Centre. This Centre is clearly an invaluable resource for many youth in Tanzania and I feel privileged to be volunteering here.
Speaking of Arusha, there is no doubt that this is a beautiful city. If you’re a fan of wonderful weather, great food, a safari and Mount Kilimanjaro as your view then “karibu to Arusha!” Lastly, as a YCI volunteer, you’ll be sure to not only gain a memorable experience, but also to gain valuable skills. I say open your minds and your horizons to the unique volunteer projects YCI offers.
Here’s to challenges and personal growth ahead!
|Help YCI Go the Extra Mile with Aeroplan!
Youth Challenge International (YCI) has launched it’s second Go the Extra Mile Campaign in partnership with Aeroplan! Donate your extra Aeroplan Miles to YCI and help support YCI’s youth development programs. YCI has one-month- May 20 to June 18, 2013- to raise our target goal of 500,000 miles and Aeroplan will top up 10%.
How to donate my Aeroplan Miles?
Donating your Aeroplan Miles is easy! Click HERE to donate online now!
What are you going to do with my Miles?
Donated Aeroplan Miles will be used for staff travel to partner locations in order to implement ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities. YCI will also use Aeroplan Miles to enable outstanding young volunteers to travel overseas to donate their time to help build communities and leaders through global youth development.
Go the Extra Mile Fun Facts
Thank you for donating you extra Aeroplan Miles!!
In honour of National Volunteer Week (April 21st-27th), the staff at Youth Challenge International would like to recognize and celebrate the efforts of our volunteers, and bring attention to the remarkable work that they do both on our overseas projects and in their communities here in Canada.
YCI’s volunteers are so much more than free help. They are the core element of YCI as an organization and the driving force behind our programs. In the office, our interns are treated as colleagues. On the ground, our volunteers are recognized as ambassadors for change and are entrusted with the responsibility to develop and implement YCI’s international programming.
“I absolutely loved the local volunteers. Omar was an absolute treat to be around – very positive, very supporting, and so so so helpful. Nathra was super involved, super engaged, wanted to learn as much as possible. They taught us as much as we taught them.” – Gloria Eid, Tanzania 2012
By now, the personal merits of volunteering are well known: volunteerism is a useful tool for young adults to develop new skills and gain professional work experience. What is less frequently acknowledged is the impact that volunteers make on the projects and programs that they work on. In 2011 alone, YCI volunteers helped empower a total of 22, 966 youth and community members. YCI volunteers combine hard work, passion, and innovation to drive positive change in communities all over the world, and for that we would like to say, THANK YOU! We could not operate on such a high scale without your help.
But, not only do we want to thank our volunteers, we also want them to brag a little about their accomplishments. Check out CIDA’s I Am Making a Difference Campaign in recognition of National Volunteer Week and be sure to share how you’re making a difference on Facebook.
-Carly Court (Volunteer Program Assistant) and Amanda Armstrong (Volunteer Program Coordinator)
Marlee Jordan has wonderful timing. As the first recipient of the “Go the Extra Mile” Scholarship, she shares her thoughts and reflections about her wonderful experience in Ghana just in time for the 2nd Annual Aeroplan “Go the Exra Mile” Campaign.
Everyone has a happy place, somewhere in their mind that they hope to have the privilege to go someday. For me, that place was somewhere in Africa, where I would have the opportunity to educate youth on issues that are important to their livelihood. After a lot of hard work and preparation, I was able to do just that.
Being awarded the “Go the Extra Mile” scholarship allowed me to travel to Ghana and take part in a 3 month project with Youth Challenge International where I was able to take the lead in developing, facilitating, and monitoring educational workshops, which aimed to equip youth with the knowledge and skills pertaining to core issues facing youths today. As well, my fellow volunteer Leigh Matassa and I worked with partner organizations to build a foundation for the collaboration of youth groups in the area, and assessed the needs of current projects. I also had the wonderful opportunity of organizing an International Women’s Day celebration to acknowledge the rights and successes of women in Ghana and worldwide. Collectively, these experiences have enriched my worldview, and have helped me develop skills that will take me further in my academic and professional goals.
Personally my placement with YCI in Ghana has meant more to me than just working and living overseas. I strongly believe that everyone should take the opportunity to learn about another culture and see how others live. It empowers you to work harder to positively contribute to the lives of others. Not to mention, I’ve had the chance to take in some amazing sights, sounds and tastes in Ghana. However, the most rewarding aspect of my placement was interacting one-on-one with some very inquisitive youth and the most unforgettable aspect has to be the friendly nature and hospitality of Ghanaians. There is no doubt that my memories in Ghana will continue to nurture my personal and professional choices as this opportunity has taught me a great deal about myself and has helped me acquire skills in the International Development field. Without the generous donations of Aeroplan Miles, I may not have been given this chance. “Go the Extra Mile” Scholarship helped kick-start the first leg of my journey and I can’t wait to see how many more miles I will travel as this journey continues.
- Marlee Jordan, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2013
Coming soon in May 2013: 2nd Annual Aeroplan “Go the Extra Mile” Campaign where you can donate your Miles to other exceptional young leaders like Marlee.
The entire team here at Youth Challenge International is very excited to announce our inaugural charity climb fundraiser event: The Kilimanjaro Climb to Give Thanks.
This event will take place over Canadian Thanksgiving from October 12 – 19, 2013, and has been organized with the goal of raising $100,000 for YCI’s youth development programs.
We’re proud to offer the opportunity for up to 30 individuals to travel with us to The Republic of Tanzania where they will trek the 5,895m up Mt. Kilimanjaro to reach the summit, Uhuru Peak. As Africa’s highest mountain and the highest freestanding mountain in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro offers a great challenge for climbers and a unique opportunity for YCI to raise awareness about our youth development programs.
YCI believes that young people have a central role to play in their development and directly engages youth in creating solutions to the challenges they face. Currently, we have youth development projects in four different locations throughout Tanzania, and we continually recruit talented Canadian and international youth volunteers to collaborate in partnership with the local youth in these locations to achieve innovation and development results. Last year, our volunteers reached over 5,600 youth in Tanzania, providing access to valuable resources and education to support improved access to livelihoods, health, and leadership opportunities.
Bryan Cox, YCI’s Executive Director, is excited to offer any individuals with a passion for adventure and philanthropy the opportunity to participate in this remarkable event. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will help change young peoples lives. “After working with young people for the past five years I have found that young people want one thing; the opportunity and the tools to succeed, not a handout”. Bryan said “I am looking forward to leading this challenge with committed people from across our global community”.
This blog was originally posted on March 10, 2013 on http://emilyroyer.wordpress.com/ by YCI volunteer Emily Royer.
This past Wednesday was Ghana’s 56th Independence Day! Independence Day is a National Holiday so with the day off work I was finally able to explore the huge market that Accra has to offer. Independence Day celebrations included school children marching, flags everywhere (the Ghananian colors of red, yellow and green are painted on virtually every tree and little stall possible), fireworks, and a day of general relaxation for locals. I, on the other hand, was on a mission. Before coming to Ghana I was told by many people to pack lightly as there are so many fabrics to buy here and talented tailors who can sew virtually any design you show them. I imagined a whole new wardrobe at my fingertips. Unfortunately, time has flown by and it was only this past week that I was able to actually go shopping for fabrics. Makola market is one of the biggest markets in Accra and has an entire area dedicated to fabrics. If you turn down a narrow alleyway you walk through a long line of fabric shops. Every kind of fabric you can imagine with bright colors and bold patterns lives in this narrow alleyway. This is not a productive place for an indecisive soul with a touch of ADD. After wandering through a number of stalls and draping every color of fabric over myself, I was finally able to pick two fabrics which I am hoping to have made into dresses. Stay tuned on how those turn out!
On Thursday, myself and Alex (another Canadian intern working with the Ghana YMCA from the Greater Toronto YMCA) travelled to Takoradi to participate in the All Girls Summit that the YMCA was putting on for International Women’s Day. Takoradi is a booming town along the West coast of Ghana and is the center for oil and gas in Ghana. The 5 hour bus ride from Accra was very picturesque – luscious green trees, rich orange soil, and the expansive ocean. Upon arriving in Takoradi, we were met by the acting Regional Secretary for the Ghana YMCA Western Region, Nana. Nana is a young guy who has a lot on the go – he is the acting Regional Secretary, he is taking an accounting course, he is the lead singer of his church choir, and much much more. He welcomed us with incredible hospitality, taking us on a mini tour of Takoradi and inviting us to his home for dinner where his mom cooked a delicious (non-fried!!) meal. On the way to dinner we had to make a pit stop to talk to one of the speakers for the All Girls Summit. The speaker is a Chief (part of the traditional government) for a town in the Central Region and we were lucky enough to get to look at her photo album from her coronation. The coronation was a beautiful celebration full of color and tradition. The Chief is also a savvy business woman and owns and manages a Fan Ice (my favorite ice cream snack) distribution centre. As Fan Ice is my favorite treat, I was very very excited.
The following day, the All Girls Summit took place at the YMCA Takoradi Vocational School. The vocational school is an all-girls school that is the equivalent educational level to high school and students learn skills in sewing and catering alongside necessary curriculum like math and English. Two YCI volunteers have been in Takoradi for the past two months designing and implementing development workshops and they organized a fantastic event to celebrate International Women’s Day. Three female guest speakers (including the Chief, the principle of the vocational school, and a professor) talked about their experiences and gave advice to the room of girls to be confident and determined, find positive role models, and believe that they can be successful. After a delicious lunch (prepared by the girls who take catering classes) the two YCI interns gave a presentation on entrepreneurship. I was very impressed with their presentation. Although everyone speaks English in Ghana, there are times when it feels like we are speaking completely different languages. Especially when speaking to a large group, the speed we talk as foreigners, our accents, and the way we construct sentences means that sometimes a lot gets lost in translation. Watching the girls conduct the Entrepreneurship session, I was reminded of classes in University where my professors had heavy accents and no matter how much I wanted to listen and learn, it was very difficult to stay engaged. The YCI volunteers had a lot of patience while conducting their session and were able to engage the girls despite the language barriers. After the program wrapped up, I had the opportunity to test a marketing tool that I created – a questionnaire/template to generate articles and testimonials about the program that can then be easily used for the Ghana YMCA website, newsletter and Facebook page. The template was well received and I believe people generally understood the goal of the tool. I received some great feedback that will contribute to the overall marketing and communication strategy.
As for the name of this blog post: As I get more comfortable in Accra and Ghana and am developing a routine, I find myself forgetting that I’m in Africa. There is a lot that I love here – the fresh mangos (Mom you would LOVE them), the beaches, the friendly people… That being said, there are some things that truly make me appreciate how lucky I am at home. Ghana is rationing both power and water, so power outages have become more and more consistent with the power being off more often than it is on and water rationing means that running water is a treat rather than the norm. Although my place is quite clean, I came across a massive cockroach in the kitchen and huge spider in the washroom the other day. This is all part of the experience and I’m learning to take the good with the bad!
- Emily Royer, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2013
Have you ever wondered why you should volunteer? Or perhaps, wonder what kind of impact “little old you” can have on a person and on a community? The answer is: plenty. And those impacts can be felt both globally and locally. In short, by volunteering, you are helping to build prosperous and sustainable communities at home and abroad.
As an international volunteer, there are many impacts that you can and will have on a community. The immediate short term effects come from the skills you contribute. For example, when I volunteered in a Guyanese village, I taught in the high school and provided remedial math and English classes. My short term impact, therefore, was providing education that otherwise would not have existed that semester.
As for the long term effects, they have the possibility to be far reaching. Your work can have a domino effect in someone’s life – you can help someone develop the tools they need to improve their daily life and that of their family. In doing that, you are enabling them to not only increase their monetary intake but also their contribution to local society because they are better skilled citizens. More capable citizens enable a community to provide improved services and be more reflective of the community’s needs. A community that is better at responding to the needs of its citizens generally leads to a populace being healthier and more educated, law-abiding, innovative, and hopeful – all of which are important to having a prosperous and sustainable community. But it starts with you sharing your skills with those who, through the randomness of life, were unable to have access to those skills any other way.
Volunteering does not only have a beneficial impact on communities in the Global South – it has an impact in your local community as well. The act of volunteering and giving of yourself has a positive impact on your sense of well-being and increases your feeling of engagement in the world around you. As such, it enriches your sense of purpose in life. In inspiring others, you inspire yourself. You develop an appreciation for others and your understanding of how a community functions and how different ways of thinking can mean the difference between being stagnant and achieving growth. Volunteering also develops your repertoire of skills that makes you attractive to those hiring for both international volunteer work and paid work at home. That range of skills you develop while a volunteer enables you to do your part in making your community both sustainable and prosperous.
Some people think that they have nothing to offer to a volunteer organization, but you’d be surprised at the impact you can have. In the Guyanese village in which I volunteered, some of the boys asked the male volunteers to play a game of soccer. Being a soccer player, I invited myself into to the game, much to the boys’ surprise. Over the next few weeks, we played a number of times, even at school. Eventually, the girls I was teaching wanted to play as well! So just by simple skills such as a talent for kicking a ball and a willingness to put yourself out there, you can inspire others to new thoughts and to change. Encouraging flexibility in attitudes opens up vast possibilities for a community. Volunteering with an organization at home has also allowed me to contribute to making my community a successful one. For example, just by supporting new immigrants and teaching English, I am part of what equips them with the tools to be productive members of their new society which means our community as a whole will prosper.
- Kendra Seignoret, Youth Ambassador, Guyana 2012
“In life, you never know what is going to happen. You cannot always control it. But you must always remember to laugh.”
This is what my trusted sidekick-slash-translator-slash-tour guide-slash-body guard Michael Gombe says to me as we stood on the side of a busy, dusty street just outside of Arusha city. We were searching for an organization that provides a safe home and skills training to young girls who are out of school.
We were lost.
Michael and I had just met; earlier we had gone over our itinerary for the week, and now we were carrying around a list of 10 potential organizations to meet within 4 days. I was lucky to have his kind assistance, and already he was sharing with me his wise, yet funny, musings on life.
My task before me was altogether daunting and exciting, but after my first week in Mwanza, scurrying around to meet with health and youth development organizations, I had some practice already. I also was well-rehearsed for the “hurry up and wait” syndrome that comes with working in the field.
My assignment, as a YCI Innovator-slash-programming assistant, was to identify and consult with major stakeholders who provide services to local youth, including employment, training, financial, and health services. I was searching for local clues about the current situation of youth livelihoods and health in Tanzania, while at the same time identifying possible linkages with organizations, government ministries, and private companies. I was also leading and facilitating participatory youth focus groups wherein local youth themselves could provide a perspective and voice within our research. All of this information is hoped to better inform YCI’s proposal writing and program design under the next funding cycle.
My assignment was very unique. Not only did I get to travel around Tanzania to almost every program area YCI works in (Mwanza, Arusha, Zanzibar), but I also met with several organizations that were as equally passionate about youth development as we at YCI are. My interviews, in some ways, were more like conversations – spanning from topics like the Tanzanian education system and how ill-equipped it is to produce graduates with practical skills, to corruption and fraud and nepotism in the government structures, to the mindset of youth themselves and how they live in a culture of dependency on parents and other adults. But there were also many stories: Stories of urgency and need, but also stories of hope.
It is well recognized in Canada and all over the world that there is a youth ‘bubble’, and that this bubble has formed during a worldwide economic crisis. Our youth population is booming, while the youth unemployment rate is reaching record numbers. This has resulted, at least in Tanzania, to many youth who are idle, bored, frustrated, and even hopeless. Many have turned to the informal sector, or self-employment because it seems to be one of the few places where they have a chance, where they can fit into the labour market.
“We need a facilitative environment for youth to become self-reliant”, said one representative from the Grassroots Youth Development Organization in Arusha. “Over 60% of the workforce in Tanzania is made up of youth, and we can help them contribute to society if we encourage them and build their skills.”
This theme was echoed throughout many of my interviews and conversations with youth-serving organizations. Youth need to be able to stand on their own, be self-reliant, have confidence, stretch their capacities, experiment with their creativity and imagination, and be leaders. In many cases they just need a safe, supportive environment to do so.
And standing right beside me, on that busy, dusty road, was a case in point. A recent graduate of the Umoja Centre, an education centre for Primary School leavers, and local ‘superstar’ volunteer for YCI, Michael has great dreams ahead of him. He most recently applied to go to Secondary School, so he can “be a good brother and supporter to my family.” While his passions are poetry, literature, and philosophy, he wishes some day to open his own business, improve his English skills, and learn to play the guitar.
I told him he was already well on his way.
- Kristy Tomkinson, Youth Innovator and Program Assistant, Tanzania 2013
Working with youth overseas has been my goal from the beginning of my university career. I started my degree with the intention of working with youth conflicted with the law, however over time my interests went in the direction of the global issues that youth face. What better an opportunity to gain experience and volunteer my time than to go to Ghana with YCI and work with youth?
Never having volunteered or worked in another country before, there are a few things I’ve learned that might help other volunteers prepare for their first trip overseas.
First, you never quite get used to the attention you will receive as foreigner in another country, however, this isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Although at times it may seem tiring to frequently be stopped it chat, most people just want to welcome you or see why you are there. No doubt it is tiring adapting to your new environment, but try to take advantage of these encounters. Getting the chance to talk to some of the local people and learning the language are things that will only enhance your experience.
Second, though this may be obvious, try to see and do as much as possible. This will allow you not only to get the most out of your stay but it is a nice break from the usual work activities. It’s important to rest and spend some time doing comfort things like watching movies and chatting with friends from home, but try not to keep yourself cooped up too much. Those who live in the area will be able to point you to the best spots for sightseeing, food, music, art and everything else you should see. So familiarize yourself with the area, try a local dish, and take advantage of the social aspects of your trip. These are all thing that will make your trip unforgettable.
Thirdly, try to approach all aspects of the trip with an open mind. Stress may be high at times, but this is expected when you’re living and working in a place you haven’t been before. The best way to deal with the stress is to go with the flow. Accepting that things may not always happen when or how you want them to will only help things runs smoothly when you’re accomplishing daily tasks.
Last but not least, enjoy your time and take it all in. Learn from the challenges and let yourself grow and change because of them. Safe travels!
- Marlee Jordan, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2013