Jobs and healthcare are two of the most essential elements young people need to lead happy, successful and productive lives.
Over the next three years from 2014-2016 working with Liberia YMCA, we intend to reach 10,000 vulnerable young people in some of Liberia’s most deprived rural centres providing them with training and support to find a job or start a small business as well as improved health information and services.
$1 a day is what 64 per cent of Liberians live on – that is defined as ‘absolute poverty’. Young people are also still reeling after a brutal civil war which denied them to access basic services, limited their opportunities to learn and therefore to earn income, and made it near impossible build a life with a meaningful future.
Learning life skills
Liberia YMCA with will be supporting young people aged 15-24 including female-headed households, teenage mothers, commercial sex workers and ex-combatants to learn the skills they need to earn a livelihood, and to stay healthy so they can keep earning and reduce healthcare costs.
Young people in five locations – 60 per cent of them women – will receive vocational, business and life skills training including carpentry, auto-mechanics and electrical wiring. Agricultural skills training will also be offered as some of the young people live in more remote rural areas. Trainees who decide to start their own businesses will then have access to financial and business management mentoring and starter kits including the tools of their trade.
To help improve young people’s health, YMCA-trained peer educators will provide information to young people in their community about sexual reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, through meetings, workshops and sports and recreational activities. Youth health centres will also receive support to develop youth-friendly health services, and to deliver HIV counselling and testing services. Health ‘clubs’ will also be established in local secondary schools providing students with sexual health guidance.
Young people will also be trained in campaigning and advocacy skills and receive support to form 10 youth advocacy groups who will engage local, regional and national government on issues of health, education and employment.
What we hope to achieve
Increased income opportunities for 1,000 young people through livelihoods training and support, enabling them to start a small business and earn $50 a month by the end of the project 10,000 young people will have a better understanding of their reproductive choices through peer education, counselling and increased access to youth-friendly healthcare services Empowerment of 1,320 young people to lobby local decision makers for improved livelihoods and health support for young Liberians.
Source: Y Care International
The first selection visit to Sierra Leone took place this January. The objective of the visit was to select 7 organisations to take part in a week-long training course in Rio de Janeiro in March. Sierra Leone is the 28th country to become part of the GAP programme, which aims to build the capacity of community based organisations (CBOs) around the world to deliver high quality support to young people in cities affected by violence.
The organisations selected are all based in communities that are significantly affected by high levels of youth unemployment, violence, gang activity and drug abuse.
The selected organisations include:
• Youth Action International
• Defence for Children International
• We Yone Child Foundation
• West African Youth Network
• African Youth for Peace and Development (AYPAD)
• Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development
Representatives from the CBOs will travel to Rio de Janeiro in March where they will take part in a week-long intensive training at the FFP Academy in the Complexo da Mare favela. The training will cover a wide range of topics based on combining boxing and martial arts alongside education, employability, and youth leadership. After the training in Rio, the organisations will be supported for 12 months by the FFP team to adapt and implement the methodology in Freetown.
About the Global Alumni Programme
The Fight for Peace Global Alumni Programme (GAP) builds the capacity of community based organisations (CBOs) around the world to deliver high quality support to young people in cities affected by violence. FFP provides intensive training in the FFP approach, and 12 months of on-going consultancy support to help adapt the approach to be effective in each CBO’s community. The programme was launched in 2011, and by 2015 FFP will have built the capacity and increased the capability of 130 CBOs. By training these local partners, FFP is helping approximately 72,000 young people to have better access to support and opportunities in communities affected by violence.
The Global Alumni network now has 56 members from 25 different countries.
Who GAP is for: GAP is focused on cities where youth violence is a critical issue. In each city FFP selects 5-10 CBOs that are well established, sustainable, highly credible locally, and have access to the young people most affected by violence. Broadly, two types of CBOs are selected: boxing and martial arts clubs that want to establish youth programming around their sport; and youth programmes that want to add boxing and martial arts to engage young people involved in violence. Every CBO that is selected for GAP is already a leader in their community; GAP is designed to help them increase their impact and speed up their development.
What GAP offers: CBOs selected to join the programme receive a comprehensive 12-month package of support designed to train them in the FFP methodology, and help them to adapt and implement it in their community. The programme consists of 5 main elements:
5-day intensive training in all FFP principles and practices at the FFP Academy in Rio de Janeiro or London.
12-months flexible consultancy support to help adapt the FFP model to their context.
Access to the FFP toolkit, containing a wide range of delivery-ready tools and templates.
Membership of the FFP Alumni, providing opportunities for peer learning and partnership with other aligned CBOs around the world.
Profile, use of the FFP Alumni brand, and use of FFP’s research led evidence base to help build credibility with supporters and funders.
Our vision for GAP: The GAP programme was developed as the most effective and efficient way for FFP to support young people in communities affected by violence all over the world. Rather then open new FFP Academies wherever this problem occurs, we believe that supporting successful local actors to increase their capacity and improve service delivery to young people within those communities is the best route to success. Furthermore, creating an international network of actors who are dedicated to solving this issue and have been through FFP’s training process, enables us to gather their insight and evidence of what works to reduce youth violence in cities across the world. As the Alumni community grows FFP will use that evidence and combined voice to call for transformative change in the way society deals with young people affected by violence.
Source: Fight for Peace
Y Care International joined team members from Togo YMCA to mark the start of a project which aims to bring justice to 2,500 young people and adults in conflict with the law over the next three years.
The project will involve the creation of legal clubs within four Togolese prisons in four regions, where up to 80 per cent of young people are detained without trial long after the legal limit of ten days.
Y Care International’s Africa Programme Manager Harriet Knox addressed the audience at the official launch ceremony and described what the YMCA are hoping to achieve in partnership with Y Care International and the European Union.
“Firstly, this project aims to help 2,500 young people and adults access justice in the cities and surrounding areas of Lomé, Atakpamé, Sokodé and Kara,” she said.
“Secondly, it aims to reduce the number of human rights violations during periods of detention by strengthening the capacity and activities of Togolese organisations that are working to defend human rights.
“We are proud to be partnering with the YMCA and thank the European Union for their support that will enable us to improve the situation of young people who come into conflict with the law in Togo.”
The project began in November 2013, and follows a successful three-year project by Y Care International and Togo YMCA implemented between 2009 and 2012. As a result of the work conducted by legal clubs during the previous project, 1,070 unlawfully detained young people were released from prison.
The Head of the EU delegation in Togo, Nicolas Berlanga Martinez, said the EU would work side-by-side with Togo YMCA to realise the project’s aims throughout Togo.
“The EU Delegation in Togo is not only committed to issues concerning human rights and justice, but also the rules, penal policies and reintegration of former prisoners into society,” said Martinez.
Coco de Koffi , an ex-detainee turned singer, also performed at the ceremony to raise awareness of the effects of unlawful detention on young people’s lives. Aged 18, Coco had been charged and detained when he was scheduled to perform in Germany. The agent who had fixed the deal arranged passports for Coco and his team – but they proved to be fake.
After being in prison for three and a half years, he learned about his legal rights through the YMCA legal club and with his improved knowledge, persistence and YMCA support, he was released.
Source: Y Care International
Judge Trevor Gorven was a member of the Durban Student YMCA in the late 1970s and the General Secretary for a few years in the 80’s. During his time there, under the mentorship of Mick Milligan, the historical impact that Student YMCA had on the movement within South Africa was significant.
As we gathered for the quarterly National Ambassador breakfast, Trevor told the story about the YMCA. The historical background is important to bear in mind, as the YMCA has been around since George Williams started to give bible studies in London in 1844. The movement has grown ever since, always relying on its ecumenical foundation. But there was a time in South Africa where YMCA had disregarded and forgotten its theological roots. As South Africa was plagued with Apartheid, the YMCA was unable to see the injustice at the time. Trevor says:
“YMCA was kind, but showed a lack of understanding for the state of context.” As a mirror of society at large, the YMCA was dominated by white people, with an agenda driven by white people. The theological underpinning at the time was a privatised fate, which excluded people from participating. In 1985, The SA YMCA brought out a statement of principles which was an article full of “wishy-washies, platitudes and nonsense”. Trevor and his colleagues from Student YMCA, among them Steve Hobbs, along with long time stalwarts in the YMCA such as Shakes Tshabalala and Vuka Tshabalala, stood up and criticised the statement which did not live up to the core values of the YMCA, regarding equality, non-discrimination and human rights. Many people within YMCA were challenged to confront the lack of theological ground in the statement. “We cannot continue without facing the truth” was the message given. The bottom line in the critique was – either you support apartheid, or you support YMCA. The debate was infectious, but the status quo had been broken.
As the global criticism against the Apartheid system was loud at this period, South Africa YMCA could slowly begin a process, with assistance from the World Alliance, to revision the SA YMCA to a good theological ground.
Once Trevor had spoken, the floor was open for reflection and comments, and I think that everybody in the room felt empowered by the story. Sipho Sokhela, current National General Secretary of SA YMCA, thanked Trevor for his speech and credited him and others like Steve Hobbs, Len Abrams, Vuka Tshabalala and Shakes Tshabalala for how they changed the way we look at the work the YMCA does in SA.
The YMCA in South Africa is today present in 22 communities, running programmes relating to Life skills, HIV/AIDS awareness/prevention & care, youth justice & rehabilitation, student hostels, campus ministry, spiritual growth, trauma counseling, civic education, IT & basic computer literacy training, arts & culture; and health and wellness programmes.
To support the long term sustainability of the SA YMCA, a new programme was launched in 2013 called the Ambassador programme. This is for people who share a common interest in serving young people but cannot find the time to be personally involved in programmes. Ambassadors promote the work of the YMCA; facilitate partnerships between corporates/trusts/NPOs and the YMCA; support fundraising initiatives and if possible, personally contribute financially towards the work of the YMCA.
By Jimmy Forsberg, AAYMCA Intern, South Africa YMCA