Thursday, July 5, 2012

The East Africa Peace and Service Corps - A fresh sting for Sustainable Youth Development

The just concluded Africa Conference for Volunteer Action, Peace and Development in Nairobi 2nd - 4th July 2012 has been a very inspiring event that attempts to address the ever increasing challenges that face the Youth in Africa, Unemployment being on the lead.
I am proud to have been associated with the crafting and organizing of the conference. The main focus was on the role of volunteerism in increasing the capacity of youth to fit in the development of the Continent.

Very many questions were raised by the youth participants, some very optimistic that volunteerism plays a critical role in building the capacity of youth to gain experience necessary in the search of jobs as well as gaining the knowledge and skills, others skeptic about the need to compensate volunteers for their role in addressing social problems that society faces today.

Volunteerism has existed for as long as humanity has been in existence. Within the African context, volunteers have given their services without looking forward to payments. It is however important to note that in the current economic hardships, there has been an emergence of the formal volunteer programs and this should not be free services without a focus on human dignity of the volunteers. Many organizations have initiated volunteer programs and ended up exploiting the volunteers without putting into cognizance their values.

Other countries have perfected the volunteerism as a value (Case of LSU in Sweden, Peace Corps in the States). Being a firm believer in the African dream, it is important to affirm that Africa provides opportunities that fit perfectly beyond the framework of Volunteerism for experience, to accelerating development that is critical to a self sustaining African economy.

Africa has virgin opportunities that are yet to be discovered and it is the duty of young people to turn those opportunities into enterprises that create employment through innovation. It is the dream of many young Africans to leave foe the West for opportunities. However if the recent experiences of the economic crisis is anything to go by, right NOW there are no jobs in the united States, and Africa has the perfect opportunity to leap frog into a continent that will rescue the global economy.

As young people, we need to create the opportunities in Africa, not because we want to, but because they are yet to be discovered. I am passionate about this issue because I am a testimony to the story of volunteerism that has made me who I am today. Having volunteered from High School, to the Red Cross, later for KAACR where I gained my first formal employment. It is through volunteer that I affirmed my leadership in YES, NYSA, and now on the side running a small company - the Green Teams at the bottom of the pyramid approach using frugal innovation. Now with operations in four countries. We entirely depend on volunteers for growth.

The questions that ponder in my mind is
  • what can you do?
  • What will we do?
  • If you don't volunteer you will not gain the experience required to earn that job.
  • But you cant volunteer for ever, you got to turn the volunteer opportunity into a sustainable venture that will put bread and butter on your table.
My concluding recommendations at the conference was that
  • The National Youth Policy should encompass a volunteer framework
  • The National Education Policies should provide a framework for industrial attachment that takes care of the experience requirement later when the youth start to search for jobs.
  • All government ministries and departments should provide at least a six month to one year volunteer opportunities to train the young people on how the various ministries manage their mandate in providing services to the people as a lasting civic engagement policy where the young people feel proud of their Government. It will entrench governance in the people.
One most important outcome of the conference, is the Launch of the East Africa Peace and Service Corps (EAPSC). This is a fresh idea, and with the best policy framework in place, I believe millions of young East Africans will get the opportunity to shape the future of volunteerism in Africa to help young people see value in their abilities to develop their selves and at the same time, the continent that has potential to shape the global economy in the future.

The future of Africa depends on us the young people. We all have a role to play. If we don't, no one will fill the void. The future of Africa is not about the Youth we leave to Africa, it is about the Africa, we leave to the Youth.

Emmanuel Dennis

Sent from my iPad

No comments:

Post a Comment