Are We There Yet?

This is my third month with YCI as the new International Programs Director and my first blog. After living away from Canada for the past four years and skipping the last four winters, its been great to be back in Toronto. The transition has been relatively seamless and I’ve really enjoyed being back.

Prior to working with YCI I spent time in Chad, Sierra Leone, Angola, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Palestine, as well as York, England for a graduate degree in Post-war Reconstruction.   I’ve been managing diverse programs in the field from health and education to de-mining, which has provided a great foundation in programming and management and will hopefully mean I’ll be well-placed to take on this new challenge here at YCI.

The past two months have been a steep learning curve. Leaning about YCI programs in East and West Africa as well as Central and South America, meeting staff and volunteers, participating in a strategic overview and budget design for the coming financial year have meant a busy and thorough induction. YCI has a long tradition of volunteer engagement, strong partner support and youth focused programming and the coming year will see a renewed commitment in how YCI views programming and how we can ensure maximum impact within the communities we work.

The IPD position includes oversight of staff in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda for our CIDA funded program as well as collaboration with out Alliance partners in South and Central America and the Group Leaders who facilitate volunteer groups. There is also a focus on financial management, reporting to donors and working on the quality and expansion of YCIs programs.

Next month I head back to the ‘Continent’ for a five-week trip to Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda.  An opportunity to see our programs up-close, meet our local partners and volunteers and assess the possibility of expanding YCI programs into Uganda. This will be the first time I’ve traveled as a visitor compared to being a field staff and have a lot to condense into a short time.

Ghana and Tanzania are new countries for me so I look forward, as always, to seeing a new place. I traveled briefly in Uganda and spent a lot of time in Kenya traveling back and forth from South Sudan and this will be my first time back after a long hiatus, and with four countries in five weeks, I’ll have lots of time in airports, on the road and back in the field. I can’t wait.

– Steve Cumming, International Programs Director


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