You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘international development’ tag.
I was not sure what to expect when starting my business training sessions with the dozen men who live in one of Zanzibar’s sober houses. I had been told that these men were demoralized, and recovering from addiction without much prospect of employment upon return to their communities. Zanzibar struggles with unemployment and even those who do work tend to only make a modest income. The issue is particularly challenging for those with addiction issues, as financial pressure and idle time often lead to a return to substance abuse.
Needless to say, I felt nervous for my first session! We began with introductions, where it was humbling to hear each man speak to his desire to overcome addiction challenges. As I began speaking about interconnectedness and the basic principles of supply and demand, the men took notes, asked questions and spoke thoughtfully in breakout discussions. In spite of the obstacles they faced, these men were keen to learn about the tools they could use to improve their circumstances.
Over the course of 8 sessions, we covered topics ranging from the importance of friendly customer service to the depreciation of assets. Often, we played games, using paper money and crayons to represent different business scenarios while trying to use local business examples whenever possible. I compared marketing promotion to the jiggling of coins that young men use when trying to sell peanuts in the market, or that the daladalas are a good example of business efficiency as they always depart fully packed.
As an added component, the young men and I collaborated on a business plan for the sober house itself, allowing them to operate a small business and gain valuable experience and income during their time recovering from addiction. These young men are currently working on business plans for themselves, once they reintegrate into their communities.
It is inspiring to see these men persevere through their obstacles, and although we rarely discuss their addictions; it is clear that the impact runs deep. When discussing where these men could get financial support, one of the participants stated, “If I can avoid using drugs and my family believes they can trust me again, they will lend me the money.” Sustaining a business in Zanzibar is difficult enough without the sort of adversity these men face, but with their earnestness and new found business knowledge, these young men have hope for a fulfilling future.
Share your skills and collaborate with our youth partners on our upcoming summer programs in Tanzania. http://yci.org/html/volunteer/globally/calendar.asp
Al Pomerant, Youth Innovator, Tanzania 2014
My six-week work placement in paradise (aka Nungwi Zanzibar) had me working from the local office of Labayka! Labayka specializes in environment, social activities, and entrepreneurship. In my first week here, I jumped in with both feet and toured the town and ran interviews to help me understand life here. This was crucial for me to understand environmental issues so that I could re-vamp a presentation on the environment created by a past YCI volunteer. I modified it to make it into a two day workshop for local trainers of trainers. Seeing the town dumping sites and fish markets were definitely highlights as they are so central to the environmental issues in the area.
I have been really busy in my second and third weeks, running 8 days of workshops for a total of 80 people coming from a variety of Northern Zanzibar villages! This has been an enriching experience for both the participants and me. I put my facilitation skills to use and learned how to work with a translator. It was also interesting working with people from various levels of education and how their learning needs varied greatly. I am hoping to run a follow-up workshop at the request of the participants in my remaining weeks as well as to draft a project proposal for future donors.
Megan Firth, Youth Innovator, Tanzania 2014
It’s been three weeks since I landed in paradise (aka Zanzibar)! Even from the beautiful 20 minute puddle-jumper flight, Zanzibar showed-off its beautiful beaches lined with palm trees and people so friendly and welcoming, you feel at home upon arrival. I find myself living in the beautiful northern village of Nungwi for six weeks to run environmental workshops with the community.
I am living with a local family throughout my stay which is helping me to better understand the daily life of people in the village, their food and of course Swahili. My home stay dad is the only one in the family who speaks English, so he helps me to understand what is happening within the home and how I fit in. While my Moma does not speak much English we communicate with a lot of gestures and plenty of laughs!
There is always something new for me to experience, whether it is learning how to do laundry by hand for first time (much to the amusement of my Moma, her two friends and the 14 children who watched me learn how to do laundry in my first week). Or getting used to having a family of chickens living in our front room. The children definitely find it very funny that the chickens that accidentally wander into the kitchen while we are eating dinner, are constantly startling me!
I am very thankful to have breakfast and dinner provided to me, carefully made by hand each day. But more importantly the time that my host family spends with me during the meals, often humoring my wide range of questions! They definitely do their best to make me feel welcome and at home.
- Megan Firth, Youth Innovator, Tanzania 2014
It was just after seven in the morning. My bag was packed and I was headed to the breakfast table when Fiona, a volunteer from Germany, appeared at my bedroom door.
“Good morning Andrea. Mama Mina says that you must stay in your room. Ok?”
“Ok…” We shared a curious glance and before I could say more she was gone.
I slipped off my shoes and sat back on the bed. Twenty minutes passed. Tiny beads of sweat began collecting at the nape of my neck. Surely it was alright to venture out as far as the front patio for an update.
“Sorry. Sorry. Ten more minutes and we will be ready for you,” Francis, a jovial, young man who lived and worked at Mama Mina’s home stay, shouted as he ran past.
It was nearly 8:00, my start time at the YMCA. I would need to call and-
“Good morning my dear Andie,” Mama Mina exclaimed. Taking my hand, she led me to the outdoor area where the volunteers ate morning and evening meals.
Balloons hung from the trees. The table was set with a flower arrangement. All the volunteers were present, along with the street children who came to Mama Mina’s in the morning for lessons and a meal. Everyone began singing and Francis appeared with the kettle to fill my mug with hot water. The table was full with plates of fruit and baking. Warm, sweet and savoury muffins, crepes, toasted sandwiches, bread for butter and jam. Papaya, mango and pineapple. When had Mama Mina arranged with the volunteers? How early this morning had Francis and the kitchen staff begun preparations? Did I want a crepe or a muffin? Breakfasts were normally very modest. Bread with margarine. Maybe jam. Coffee and tea.
Mama Mina called everyone’s attention for prayer. “Thank you Lord for our volunteers and thank you for bringing us together today to celebrate…” My eyes began welling with tears. I knew that I would linger a bit longer over my coffee that morning. After work I planned on visiting Makola market to purchase fabric for a dress. In a moment of weakness I might hand over my cedis for an exorbitantly overpriced jar of Nutella. Me ma wo awoda pa!
I had only been awake for a few hours and already the day exceeded my expectations. This YCI experience has brought me closer to my personal and professional goal of working in international development, and so for this reason just being here in Ghana felt grand. Making a wish, here on my birthday, was tastier than the fattest spoonful of chocolate spread, straight from the jar.
Andrea Paolini, Youth Innovator, Ghana 2014
Valerie has recently joined YCI as the new Public Engagement and Outreach Assistant. This foodie and self-proclaimed music nerd has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and European Studies from University of Toronto. Val looks forward to be involved in human rights education for development organizations. Between trying out new dishes and listening to new indie tracks, Val is cooking up her next travel adventure in some remote places.
How did you get involved with YCI?
As a graduate of the Post-Graduate Program in International Development Project Management at Humber College, I was often exposed to the work being done at YCI through their strong and complimentary relationship. Many previous students were largely part of the YCI alumni network, and would often come in and put on presentations of their volunteer experience with the organization, and how the skills of the program had prepared them or had been further developed. As such, I was interested in learning more on how NGOs operate, and decided to apply for an in-office internship in order to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of day-to-day operations of international NGOs.
What does your position at YCI entail?
In my role as Public Engagement and Outreach Assistant, I am responsible for reaching out to potential volunteers and young adults regarding our programs and opportunities for community engagement through recruitment fairs. I also prepare and arrange constructive activities and opportunities for our alumni volunteers, in order for them to stay connected with YCI. Administratively, I work on data analysis and updating reports, as we are reaching the end of our fiscal year. Furthermore, I have been largely responsible for managing and leading our Live Below the Line 2014 Campaign.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing youth today?
I think there is still a large lack of representation in regards to human rights issues around gender and access to education. I have found that there are a lot of great organizations doing really good work advocating for youth and youth rights, however, I find that there is still a gap in addressing specific needs that target different genders or ages. Whether it is through development or humanitarian work, we need to evaluate the underlying reasons that youth are unable to live out their full potential. Access to education for youth is a universal right, thus, the need to address these barriers, whether it be related to gender, social, economic or political, is vital. Furthermore, I think one of the biggest issues facing youth globally, is the job market. It is getting evermore difficult for youth of different ages and various levels of experience, to be a part of the global market and develop their livelihoods.
Outside of work, what are some of your favourite things to do?
I am a music nerd. I am constantly searching for new acts to check out or for great steals on ticket prices. I also love having great conversations over some great food! I try to make dinner dates with some friends, whenever I’m not busy running around from one work to the next. Checking out new restaurants and trying different dishes is always a great time! Other then that, I enjoy being outdoors, relaxing and planning future adventures with some friends.
- Valerie, Public Engagement and Outreach Assistant Winter/Spring 2014
My first morning here I woke to red earth, yellow hibiscus and a massive, waxy banana tree outside my window. Be present, I told myself. These six weeks will blow in and out like a breeze. …Today I mark the half-way point with this blog entry. It has been three weeks since I left the snow and chapped skin of an inhospitable Canadian winter, since the airplane landed and immediately filled with steam when cabin doors clicked open to a humid Accra night.
I feel most at ease in the early mornings, when the temperature has not yet begun its ascent, when after a cool shower I feel momentarily refreshed and ready to press start on my work day. Following a simple breakfast of fresh bread and instant coffee, I begin my commute with a ten-minute walk along a meandering dirt road. Strewn with garbage and fallen bougainvillea blossoms it is a striking contrast of rot and beauty.
I head towards Asylum Down Circle, a bustling traffic circle where city dwellers converge to catch taxis. All around, vendors sell phone credit and coconuts, toiletries and water sashes. Pots of oil sizzle with deep frying fish and bofrot, (sweet gooey balls of dough). In the distance I watch as the taxi I hoped to join putt putts away. Another will be along shortly to fill with passengers.
Back in Toronto I often shut out the city soundscape by listening to a news podcast. But here, I want to hear all that I can. The shouts of “obroni” (white) from street children, requisite Bob Marley layered over chart topping dance hits and the morning call to prayer, wonky horns and ringing bells warning me to get out of the way.
A few minutes later I hand the driver one cedi thirty pesewas (approximately 65 cents Cdn) and wait to alight at the cathedral. Landmarks, rather than numbered addresses are used here to navigate the city. From the cathedral I walk a few more minutes, past Accra’s psychiatric hospital (hence the area name, “Asylum”) and past Paulina, a local merchant who has befriended me. She is stoking a fire in preparation for roasting yams, plantains and groundnuts.
Once at the YMCA I greet the staff and settle at my desk. The six of us will gather shortly for prayer and morning announcements. Today, in addition to updating the Facebook and Twitter accounts, I must finalize a press release for the upcoming Inter-Cultural Youth Festival. The festival will be held in Cape Coast, July 19-29, 2014. I was fortunate to visit Cape Coast my first weekend in Ghana. I remember lingering on the castle balcony, lost in the long stretch of sand, crashing waves and a fat, pink lollipop sunset…
Yes, these final weeks will blow in and out quickly and before I know it I’ll be back in Toronto, riding the subway to work, ordering a grande extra hot soy misto from Starbucks, wishing for the breeze that as I type this last sentence, I presently savour.
Andrea Paolini, Youth Innovator, Ghana 2014
It is the end of Week 3 on Project. We’ve completed 5 workshops across 3 schools covering very important topics of confidence and self esteem building through Public Speaking and Sexual Reproductive Health focusing on menstrual hygiene and birth control. After a very productive and successful week, we’re now reflecting upon our experiences.
All of our hard work preparing for the workshops has really paid off, as our girls really showcased their talents and skills during their practical Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Project activities. During the workshops, we motivated and empowered 5 classes (approximately 90) young women.
Our “Your Voice Matters” Public Speaking workshop aimed to train our MDG girls for their upcoming project showcase at the Go Girls Summit Event. It was great conquering the stage fright, and watching the young leaders blossom before us. We witnessed the personal growth of most of these girls, which was truly rewarding. On the health aspects, we educated our girls on the importance of sexual reproductive health. Battling teenage pregnancy rates in the Western Region of Ghana at the grassroots level, girls were educated on effective birth control methods and general hygiene practices. We leveled the playing field of gender equality, empowering the girls to believe in the power of their own decisions and their voices.
We were privileged to see the girls in action on their MDG projects. We met up with the MDG groups this week to track their progress and ensure they were preparing for the upcoming event. The first two groups from Nana Brempong YAW focused on: eradicating extreme poverty and achieving universal primary education.
The first learned how to make artisanal crafts to emphasize self-sustainability. The second are making presentations to their classmates who have difficulties making it to class about the importance of school.
Both groups were passionate about their topics and it really showed. The other two groups from the YMCA decided to work on: environmental sustainability and gender equality.
The group working on environmental sustainability initiated their project from their own school with the motto of charity starts at home. They formed an Environmental Club and cleaned up their school grounds.
The other group held a workshop of their own on Women Empowerment and Leadership to their classmates. We were proud to see these girls carry out their workshop in such a professional manner and with passion. Overall, it was a very moving experience to see the progress these young women were making right in front of us. These girls were on fire! Absolutely unstoppable. This is just the beginning for all of these groups, but we are hopeful that they continue these projects after we leave, as there is so much work to be still done.
Next up, our grand finale, the Go Girls Summit on March 26th, 2014. We are so proud of the girls’ progress, and cannot wait to see their presentations and their continued leadership in their communities!
- Edna Quan, Rachel Ouellette and Rakshin Saroha, Youth Ambassadors, Ghana 2014
As a YCI Marketing and Communications Innovator I will assist the Ghana YMCA in creating a vibrant and sustainable social media presence to engage youth and promote its programming. Towards this goal, I travelled to Takoradi, where in partnership with the Ghana YMCA, YCI provides mentoring and youth training to girls in junior and senior high school. Upon arrival in Takoradi, located four hours west of Accra, I met with YCI Ambassadors Rachel Ouellette, Edna Quan and Rakshin Saroha. The following morning I accompanied them, first to the YMCA to conduct a physical education class for some forty teen girls and then onto Nana Brempong Yaw, a local junior high school. Here the Ambassadors spoke to girls, ages 13-15 about the importance of education and then they facilitated a workshop on public speaking for ten girls selected to be peer educators. As Frederick Dadzie, Senior Program Manager at YCI Ghana mentioned in a recent blog post, these workshops are part of a larger strategic plan to help girls promote and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. I was immediately struck by the confidence and poise with which they told their stories. They sought a future rich in magnificent colour, one in which they succeeded and supported their families.
I do not know the exact circumstances and complexities that were these girls’ realities. Perhaps it is for this reason that I took such comfort in what I did know. At that exact moment as girls across Ghana hawked wares along polluted and dusty motor ways, these girls — among them Mercy, Patience, Cristobel, Lovely, Gracie, Millicent and Elizabeth — were in a classroom. Safe. They were not statistics or factoids. They were captivating and inquisitive young girls who, in addition to enjoying music and dancing hoped someday to be doctors and teachers, journalists and mothers. How I hope, that despite the very real obstacles that face them, these girls continue to thrive… I am here in Ghana for and because of these girls…
- Andrea Paolini, Youth Innovator, Ghana 2014
There is a global momentum for championing women’s equality. In Ghana, there have been new efforts to promote gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and political participation.
Ghana has seen women rising into high level positions in politics, private and public sector in recent times. During the 2012 General Elections, three political parties had women as their Vice Presidential Candidates. Two other women led two different political parties as the Presidential Candidates, even though their parties couldn’t contest, one of them being the former First Lady of Ghana, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings.
The current Chief Justice, the Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the National Commission on Civic Education, and the CEO of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, are all occupied by women, just to mention a few.
There, however, remain gaps to fill as far as Gender Equality, especially where women empowerment and elimination of all forms of abuse against women is concerned.
Each year on March 8th, women mostly gather to celebrate International Women’s Day with few statements being made by Heads of States and Institutions to mark the day and I have always wondered why women will gather to celebrate women on International Women’s Day.
Therefore, as a Program Manager and a Gender advocate, I have been looking forward to planning a program that will have men celebrate the social, political, and economic achievements of women.
Youth Challenge International, in co-operation with our local partner, the Ghana YMCA Takoradi Branch, with support from the National Youth Authority Western Regional Office, selected 40 young women between the ages of 13 – 29 from Junior and Senior High Schools and community clubs. These young women underwent training on Leadership, the Millennium Development Goals, and Basic Project Management Skills. After the training, the girls became empowered to come up with work plans of activities they want to undertake to achieve the MDG’s in their own communities.
At an all-girls Summit, the 40 girls formed 7 groups and read out their plans to other young girls. This was a remarkable day, seeing how these young women were passionate in talking about what they are going to do in their communities to promote the Millennium Development Goals.
Even though March 8th is globally recognized as International Women’s Day, Youth Challenge International will hold an event on the 26th of March, mobilizing especially men both young and old to celebrate the achievements of the young women in this project, to inspire other young women to become leaders and agents of positive change in their own communities.
Ayekoooo (“Good Job”) to all Women, especially those who continue to inspire their families, communities, and nation.
- Frederick Dadzie, Senior Program Manager, Youth Challenge International Ghana