VOF Week 4 or 5... coming back from youth conference in Kenya but I still love Pulsewire
I last posted that I was headed to Kenya to lead a youth media team at a peace summit. Internet connection was a fight to get and I had my hands full of things to do, but we had 6 days with 200+ regional youth doing community building, skill development, talking about peace and reconciliation and how to start a business, even youth sexuality (that was a popular one)! I loved it. Working with youth was so inspiring, my job was leading the media team and on the first day when 30 people walked in I said to myself oh no this is a big team... but we divided up, newsletter team, public relations, blogging, photography and video. At the end of the day we needed everyone. We got our conference into The Nation, on Citizen TV and on the radio.
All the computers got viruses and the flash drives got stolen... but at the end of the week, the team was so psyched. They had no complaints. Most of them had never gotten to do such hands on work before, and in the closing evaluation they said they felt trusted and empowered. Wow. We produced a beautiful blog http://peacesummit2009.wordpress.com and connected with Woman's Hope - who I met through a comment in this very forum- go World Pulse!
Woman's Hope is a newspaper in Kenya that is free with the goal of empowering women. Well, they loved the media team too and now we are working together to produce a Youth Hope section. I was happy I could buy the youth team a URL and leave them with some airtime.... I think I will fundraise to get the editor his own laptop.
The experience planning this conference renewed my faith in everything - in the power of the press (written news is still important in Kenya at least) in the power of youth as organizers... in my own skills at planning youth conferences. There are a lot of youth conferences out there, but many of them are not well run, or youth centered. We went for 6 days, cause you need that much time, we put youth leaders and facilitators up front, we focused workshops on skills youth need: writing project proposals and setting goals, talking directly about the political issues of the country, and connecting with decision makers. This is the second conference we have done like this, last year we were in Rwanda, and I think I have found my niche.
Can we really count on governments or big agencies like the World Bank to do youth development? No, human centered civil society orgs must come forward, and put youth needs at the very front and center.