In the summer of 2008 I volunteered with Youth Challenge International (YCI) in Morogoro, Tanzania. Through this overseas program, I worked with the Faraja Trust Fund, a local organization that provides support services for individuals and communities affected by HIV/AIDS. With the Faraja Trust Fund and locally-based YCI staff, I developed and taught life skills and health classes at the Kilakala Youth Center, and participated in the home-based care programme.
The YCI experience was beneficial to me in several ways. At the time, I had just completed the first year of a Masters program in Sociology and Collaborative International Development Studies, and was intensely working on my thesis. I recognized the need to step out of the classroom and go overseas to deepen my understanding of the international development field, and upon deciding to volunteer with YCI, I received generous support from my community, family, and university.
The YCI trip was my first time to Africa, and it helped to ground my studies and provided insights into how things often occur ‘on the ground’ in development. I was also able to witness the dedication and strength of the community based organizations, which were able to make meaningful and significant contributions to their local community through their creative and relevant programming. This demonstrated to me the great importance of participation from the local community in identifying and resolving issues effecting development.
Returning to my studies in the fall 2008, I had gained a sense of how international development works in practice, achieved a renewed dedication to the field, and appreciation for champions working in it. From my time in Tanzania, my skills in facilitating workshops and classes were refined, and my ability to adapt to new situations grew. I also developed great friendships with people in Morogoro, which are still flourishing two years later.
Since my YCI experience, I have completed my thesis on women’s participation in reconciliation processes in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and South Africa, and obtained my Masters degree. I began working with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in April 2009, and am presently the Research Intern for the Women’s Rights and Citizenship (WRC) program. In brief, the WRC program supports applied research in the field of women’s rights, citizenship and development, and contributes to bringing Southern women’s voices into current debates in the international gender and development field.
As part of my internship, I developed and have carried out an individual research project, which explores women’s access to justice within the formal and customary law systems in Sierra Leone, and recently completed field work in the country. Further, through my experience with the WRC program, I was able to participate in the 54th UN Commission on the Status of Women, and have been involved in the shaping of the “Democratic Governance, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality” initiative, which is supporting new research on whether and how governance systems, institutions and processes are responding to women’s rights, needs, and interests.
From the beginning of my YCI experience and continuing to today, the YCI staff in Toronto and Morogoro have been extremely helpful and accessible. I highly recommend YCI’s international programs, as an opportunity for personal growth and as a way to meaningfully contribute to positive change globally.
– Carley Robb, YCI Youth Ambassador. Carley volunteered on a 6-week project with YCI in Tanzania in the summer of 2008. Carley is now the Research Intern for the Women’s Rights and Citizenship (WRC) program with the International Development Research Centre.
There is limited space left in the 8 week winter project to Tanzania. Click here for more information.
Want to learn what other YCI alumni are up to? Check out our blog’s Alumni Update category.