As this blog continuously grows, I am honoured to expand this platform beyond Kenyan borders. I was privileged to interact with youth from across Africa during the launch of the Generation 2030 2.0 report on the future of African children. In what will hopefully be an inspiring series, I will be sharing short profiles of some of the youth that I interacted with in a bid to show what potential lies in the mind, hands and hearts of our youth:
Ruth Chavula from Malawi has a Diploma in Journalism and a certificate in peer education. She is a Public Relations officer with the Malawi National Youth Network; an umbrella body for youth organisations and clubs that coordinate youth related programs.
She has worked with ‘Added Power And Understanding in Sex Education (APAUSE)’ currently in Rumphi & Mzuzu. The organization focuses on prevention by providing life skills techniques on HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health rights to young people so as to abstain from sex, sexual harassment and related pressure. Other goals include assisting young girls to stay in school and away from early marriage so as to reduce the HIV/AIDS transmission rate and to sensitise people on the Malawian Marriage Bill.
Her role at APAUSE includes working as a coach and peer educator. She trains new peer educators on how best they can develop the organisation’s program in the schools they are working in. Their mission at APAUSE is to have a healthier Malawi generation free from Sexually Transmitted Diseases and a successful younger generation with more girls being empowered.
Besides APAUSE, She is also a ‘Zathu’ Brand Ambassador. Her role means that she distributes Zathu content to youth clubs and organizations in both primary and secondary schools. Some of their themes include friendship, stereotypes, gender based violence, health, education and self expression. She also collects feedback from the masses on the impact of their work and facilitates radio listening clubs in the existing youth clubs and organization.
Siatra Msandu from Zimbabwe advocates for child friendly spaces as well as meaningful participation in all decision making processes through youth development. She works with many organizations including ‘Citizen Child Youth Media Project,’ where young people are trained on citizen journalism and media monitoring. She joined the team in 2012. The trainees are assisted in developing a multi-dimensional concept to recruit peers in their neighborhood to identify issues affecting them as young people, write about them and raise awareness. The project allows the participants to compile petitions on the most highlighted issues and present it to relevant stakeholders to address them.
Media monitoring is important as it highlights the trainee to show how they are publishing a story with a young victim. This then becomes the bridge in the exchange of language. They are also keen on influencing policy through child governance structures, identifying key issues for children and youth. They compile a ten point plan which is then presented to the Parliament of Zimbabwe through the finance committee or to the local governments.
Besides that, she continues to advocate for the rights of children and youth in other platforms such as the Chitungwiza Junior Council where she is a junior public relations officer. She is also involved with Terre Des Hommes Germany, an international youth network that protects children against exploitation. Currently, she is the president of the Zimbabwe chapter. Finally, Siatra is a television personality for the Green Studio, a community development show.
‘If they don’t give us a place at the table, we will bring our own folding chairs!’ – Siatra Msandu