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Christopher Sharpe is YCI’s second new intern at our Toronto headquarters. No stranger to YCI, Chris is also a recent alumni of the Youth Ambassadors program in Korforidua, Ghana. Chris has recently decided to pursue a career in the international development field after working several years as an education professional. As a graduate of both the University of Toronto and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, Chris’ academic interest lies in Canadian government and politics, democratic institutions, voting systems and comparative foreign policy. Chris is passionate about working with youth to foster education and engagement in civil society and advocacy. As such, he is very excited to be the new Public Engagement Intern at YCI!
My name is Christopher Sharpe and I am an education professional currently transitioning into a career in international development. I was born in Toronto and raised in both Canada and the United States (Washington, D.C.). I did my Honours Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
Since finishing school I have worked as an educator in a variety of capacities. I have been an academic tutor at the University of Toronto, as well as an English teacher in both South Korea and Japan. I have experience teaching people of all ages from small children to teenagers, university students, professional adults and retirees!
My interests in international development include good governance, institutional capacity building and the creation of an educated and active civil society. I am particularly interested in working with youth to help develop their critical thinking and analysis skills as it relates to good governance. This is what brought me to join Youth Challenge International; I spent 6 weeks this summer as a Youth Ambassador in YCI’s project based in Koforidua, Ghana.
While there I worked in partnership with the YMCA Youth Mentorship Program on issues related to HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness and prevention, as well as effective youth mobilization and advocacy in a democratic context. I was particularly excited about participating in the YMCA National Youth Conference, held at the University of Ghana, where I was able to present on “Youth and Civic Participation: The Canadian Experience”.
Since returning from Ghana, I’ve been making the transition into a career in the international development sector in my hometown of Toronto. I joined the education division of the Toronto based NGO TakingITGlobal as their Global Encounters Video Conference Coordinator where I worked to facilitate global issues-based video conferences with high school students from all over the world. Following this, I was incredibly excited about being offered (and accepting!) the position of Public Engagement Intern at the Youth Challenge International Head Office in Toronto. I’m very much looking forward to working on issues of youth development and promoting the many exciting programs that YCI has coming up in 2013!
In my spare time I enjoy travelling abroad, learning new languages, playing the piano and water sports. I particularly enjoy spending time at my cottage in the Kawartha Lakes.
After weeks of preparation, we, the T611A group in Arusha, Tanzania have proudly and successfully completed our community projects!
For me, this day has been the culmination of everything that we have worked for so far while volunteering here in Arusha. With the help of students at the Umoja Centre in Arusha, the other volunteers and I began our project three weeks ago by completing a needs assessment of the various communities that the Umoja students come from. The students performed interviews with family members and other members of their communities and identified many issues in their communities that they were interested in addressing. The main problems that we identified were litter, drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Each of the four volunteers worked with a group of Umoja students from one of four nearby communities. The group that I worked with was from Moshono, and decided that the issue that they would most like the address in their community was malaria, focusing on prevention and recognition of symptoms.
As a group, we decided that the best way to present the information to the community would be in the form of a dramatic presentation. The students were so enthusiastic about performing in front of a crowd and really loved having the opportunity to showcase their natural talents. The students decided that they would also like to hand out mosquito nets to people in order to further our impact on the community and help to stop the spread of malaria!
Although we practiced the skit and went over the logistics of our performance many times before zero hour, I have to admit I was pretty nervous that the whole thing would be a train-wreck. I had visions of an empty market in Moshono, with nobody showing up, of my group standing there with 20 mosquito nets and no one to give them too, or of everybody forgetting their lines or getting stage fright and refusing to perform.
However, about 30 seconds after arriving at Moshono, I knew that I had nothing to fear. Immediately after hopping off the dala dala, the students got straight to work on hanging up the posters that they had prepared, handing out malaria information flyers and recruiting the audience for our performance. They then proceeded to stand in the middle of the market and sing songs at the top of their lungs in order to attract attention and recruit even more people to educate about malaria – and it worked! After 20 minutes or so we had accumulated a crowd of about 50 people, and then got to work on our presentation. The skit was performed better than it had been in any of our practice sessions, with a comfort and ease comparable to true professionals. I watched from the sidelines in a little bit of confusion because the whole thing was performed in Swahili, but it was clear to me that the students knew what they were talking about, and were getting the message across to the community members.
I was so happy to see each and every student beaming with pride as they handed mosquito nets out to community members, and how thrilled they were that they were able to go into the community and educate their neighbours and friends. It was without a doubt my favourite day on project so far and I will never forget the experience!
- Jessie Flear, Youth Ambassador, T11-6A
Jessie and her team have been busy in Arusha working with the Umoja Centre as YCI’s first pilot project in the community. The Umoja Centre is YCI’s newest partner and we’ve been excited to read about about the success of their project. Great work T11-6A!
For more volunteer blogs, check out our Travel Diary category.
Health is a dynamic process affected and determined by biopsychosocial interplays between an individual and his or her environment. In consideration, for the past few weeks YCI GH11-6A Youth Ambassadors have collaborated with YCI-YMCA mentors, health professionals, and youth associations to organize a health awareness community initiative in the community of Effiduase, Koforidua Ghana. The event took place on June 11, 2011.
It was attended by community chiefs, Assemblyman Honourable Boakye, Municipal Youth Coordinators, ninety youth delegates from three high schools, educators, nurses, and delegates from youth groups.
In planning for the event, the decision was made to design a program that was informative, yet engaging and interactive. To achieve this, information pertaining to STIs, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis were related through speeches, music, and plays. A key highlight of the program included two musical features by a local band, Kof Town Records, which talked about malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Following a formal presentation on the health topics, youth had the opportunity to visit several health booths: games; STIs and condom demonstration; tuberculosis (TB), cholera, and malaria; nutrition and sanitation; health screening for HIV/AIDS and TB; and lastly a resource table where each youth was given a resource kit. Each resource kit included a fact sheet on STIs, hepatitis B, diarrhea, and hand washing; hand sanitizer; male and female condoms; and lube.
During the distribution of resource kits, one youth out of every 10 was asked to complete a short evaluation of the event and some were asked to provide a testimonial. The evaluations and testimonials consisted of five questions phrased to determine whether the information conveyed was relevant and timely, and if anything was excluded that they wanted to learn, or if there were any topics they wanted information on that were not covered. Analysis of the evaluation reported that the majority of youth found the information about nutrition, sanitation, tuberculosis, cholera, and malaria to be most informative and useful. It was surprising to learn that of the youth evaluated only 25 percent visited the STI station. When asked why, the rational was that there were too many people at the station.
Going forward, the youth that attended this event will be organizing information sessions at their respective high school or youth association to disseminate the information to peers who were unable to attend the Health Awareness Community Initiative. As health is a dynamic process, it behoves each person to enhance his or her own wellbeing and educate others in order to collectively heighten the health of a community.
- Sasha Jordan, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2011. Sasha Jordan, a nursing student with a passion for health promotion and preventive medicine.
For more volunteer blogs, check out our Travel Diary category.
On June 10th, Faraja Trust Fund staff and Youth Challenge International members travelled to Kinole, a rural community about an hour from Morogoro Town. The Bonanza event was planned and prepared by many and its purpose was to educate and create awareness to the community regarding HIV/AIDS and Malaria. The event took place at Tandali Primary School, since school was cancelled that day for the students.
The event kicked off with a football game, and all the primary students along with some community members were present. As time went on, loud music played, and more and more community members, friends and family began to arrive. Introductions were made, and the purpose of the event was discussed. During and in between football games, there were information sessions on HIV/AIDS and Malaria, as well as dancing competitions and prizes given out. YCI volunteers did a presentation on Malaria, which included demonstrating the proper use of a mosquito net. During half time of football games and the netball game, YCI volunteers provided the team members with condom demonstrations and how and why to use condoms. The teams were very interested and it proved to be an important aspect of the day’s various activities. Community members were also provided an opportunity to receive condom demonstrations if they were interested, and this was also done by YCI volunteers. There were 3 football games and 1 netball game played in total, and the crowd grew larger as the excitement and thrill of the event went on. After the final games, more presentations were done by Faraja staff. An HIV education/awareness group of students called Zinduka and run by a Faraja member, shared with the audience metaphorical games to represent HIV in humans; as well they sang multiple songs about HIV/AIDS and Malaria. The Drama Club did skits on Malaria to depict and supply a strong message to the audience.
Throughout this event, the Mama’s from Faraja Trust Fund also provided community members an opportunity to get tested for HIV in a separate testing area. A total of approximately 110 adults were tested, which is a remarkable and noteworthy amount.
At the end of the day, prizes and awards were given out to the final winners of the sports games, as well as to community members who participated in dancing or other topic-related competitions. Prizes included mosquito nets, condoms and sports related items (example: team jerseys for the first placed teams). Thank-you’s and a debriefing session were made as the event came to a close.
Overall, despite a late start, the event was a great success and provided approximately 1000 students, community members, friends and family with the knowledge and awareness surrounding HIV/AIDS and Malaria.
- T11-8B (Anthony Gatti, Jamie Hurrell, Devon Malcolm & Jennifer Wagenknecht), Youth Ambassadors, Tanzania 2011