Global Action Grant – Update from Robin Campbell

Wolfville Youth Leaders Core Group

Our group has been working hard to develop our youth action project. Over the past month we have met some very exciting and inspiring international development leaders!

On March 2, 2013 we travelled to Halifax, Nova Scotia (an hour away) to meet with the Nova Scotia-Gambia Association (NSGA). Their Executive Director, Muhammed Ngallen, shared his story of what it was like to grow up in The Gambia and we learned about the life-saving initiatives the NSGA is doing in The Gambia. Jakob Conrad then joined us, an inspiring young man who started “Twoonies from Toubabs,” a fundraising initiative he started at just age nine (he is shown in the picture talking to our group). He helped inspire our youth on how something simple can have an extraordinary impact. He showed us that young people can truly make a difference. His mother, Cathy Conrad, who is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the NSGA, joined Jakob and she also helped the youth to understand how they can make a difference.

wolfville youth leaders

Then on March 6th, we had a great Skype meeting with Rebecca Sweetman, Executive Director of the Paradigm Shift Project. She shared with us how she started the organization and how making documentary films and using media can make a change.

Our group has been so inspired by these leaders. The group has decided to develop a short-film/video on plastic bag use and waste, and how youth in their area can help to reduce the impact on our environment and how this will help locally and globally. Over the next month we will be working on creating this video. At the end of April, we are going to hold a showing of the film in our community and use this opportunity to raise money for an international development organization.

As the leader of this group, I am so thankful to everyone who has helped and inspired the youth for their project; and I am especially proud of our group for their project choice and their passion to make a difference here in rural Nova Scotia. Thank you, Youth Challenge International, for making this possible.

– Robin Campbell, Global Action Grant winner and Youth Ambassador alumnus.


An Interview with a Local YCI Volunteer: Omar Moh’d Bakar

Omar has been a local YCI volunteer in Zanzibar for four months, and is currently assisting YCI staff and international volunteers with YCI’s programming in Zanzibar, including translation and co-facilitation of an Emerging Leaders program and Business English course.  A true asset to the YCI Zanzibar team, Omar shares his story of how he became involved with YCI and what the experience has meant to him:  


Omar Moh’d Bakar

How did you first find out about YCI?

My uncle told me about YCI and its Emerging Leaders program last year.  I started the program and the volunteers found out that I am good at speaking English.  It was not my task to help, but I could help when it was needed, and they asked me if I wanted to start volunteering with YCI.  I said yes – it was a good opportunity.  I finished the three month Emerging Leaders program and then joined as a local volunteer.

What has your experience with YCI meant for you?

YCI has helped me a lot because I am working with international volunteers, who come with different ideas, different world views, and their own skills.  We talk, share ideas and get to know each other better, and I learn things I didn’t know.

Also, by helping to teach and translate the Emerging Leaders and Business English programs, I am learning and increasing my experience every day.  At first, I was a little bit shy to stand in front of people and sometimes I couldn’t express things.   But every day after I come home from this program, my confidence has increased.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years, and how does YCI fit into your goals?

For now, I am working with a tour company as a trainee.  After 10 years, I want to have my own tour company – that is my goal. I can get experience from YCI by getting to know people from different countries and using that experience in my business.  I like to receive tourists from Canada –it’s easy to share ideas and communicate with them because I’ve worked with volunteers from Canada before.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for youth in your community?

The biggest problem facing youth, especially in Zanzibar, is education.  It is very hard to get the credits to get into high school, and it’s hard to get a diploma or degree because of the expenses – many people can’t afford it.   Also, the youth aren’t engaging in studying here.  Not many have an advanced level of education because they get disappointed – they think that you can’t get a job even if they get more education. In addition, many students decide to take the same few programs in school, such as Human Resources, and then there are too many students with the same training.

How does YCI help to address these challenges? 

When the volunteers come, they provide education on topics that youth aren’t aware of, such as project management.  YCI offers Emerging Leaders, which helps students to be unique, and gives them an idea of other things out there for them.

The program also continuously helps the community and ‘wakes up’ youth.  Every three months, students go out and work with the community and teach people – it encourages and motivates others who want to be like the YCI participants and be good people.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with YCI?

I really like to stand up in front of my fellow youth and feel that I am the same age as them, but I can teach them things that I know and they don’t know – I am a leader.  I get the things that I teach them from YCI.

– Shanna Sunley, Youth Ambassador, Tanzania 2013

The VAC Retreat: YCI’s active youth leaders doing what they do best!

This weekend YCI’s Volunteer Advisory Council met in Toronto for the first ever VAC Retreat.  It was an exciting two days packed with training and project planning.  Folks came in from as far away as Victoria and as close as St. Clair and Bathurst!  As a refresher for those who might not be aware of what the Volunteer Advisory Council is or how it functions within YCI here is a brief description:

Youth Challenge International’s Volunteer Advisory Council is the leadership body for our active, national Volunteer Action Network.  Our Volunteer Advisory Council members are youth leaders inspiring and encouraging others to Make a World of Difference through the development of innovative community initiatives that focus on pressing global issues.

The two main goals of YCI’s Volunteer Advisory Council are:

To encourage grassroots initiatives in Canada that generate awareness, solutions and action on pressing global issues – through the leadership of action teams in the Volunteer Action Network; and to support and inform YCI’s activities through interaction with the Board of Directors.  (The Chair of the Volunteer Advisory Council sits on YCI’s Board of Directors.)

YCI’s Volunteer Action Network facilitates youth-identified grassroots projects aimed at developing creative ideas and policy solutions to pressing global and local issues and provides a supportive platform from which to nourish those ideas into action!  Each team is made up of 5 to 8 volunteers working on a specific goal or objective over the course of a year.  Ultimately, the aim is to develop a greater understanding about global development issues, but also to produce a distinct contribution through action and an output.

Stay tuned for some of the awesome initiatives coming out of this year’s super talented council!


Erin, Canadian Programs Director

To learn more about the Volunteer Advisory Council, go to

If you’d like to see what our Volunteer Action Network is currently working on, or for how you can get involved, check out