Dreams from the Youth
They came from very different worlds, but left with a common vision and shared goals following the Youth Leadership Programme
“People often see youth as a problem waiting to happen”
Adam Yaish, 16, attended school in Thoddoo Island, in the North of the Maldives, and Shanaz Mohamed, 19, goes to university miles away in Malaysia. Yet when they met at the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) a few months later in Bandos Island Resort in the Maldives, the platform acted as the catalyst that tied together their shared vision: to change the perception about youth as being idle and incapable, by doing something about it.
- The third Youth Leadership Programme mentored 40 participants from across the country who were selected to take part in the three-week programme.
- The participants learnt about cultural awareness, civic education, democratic principles and functions of the parliament through a series of parliamentary education sessions.
- The YLP also focused on key societal issues such as child protection, gender inequality, conflict resolution, human rights, extremism and intolerance of minority groups.
“Youth are often considered as being too young to stand up, voice out or contribute positively to our societies. I feel the youth are not taken seriously, or as a priority. We have to change that. It will be hard, but we have to try,” says Yaish. He adds that the YLP has created the avenue for the youth to develop critical skills such as personal development and leadership skills, which would come in handy when participants ultimately take on the daunting tasks of making a difference in their communities when they leave the programme. Both participants agree that the programme has helped develop many skills they lacked, such as the confidence to speak publicly, and to be more assertive.
Organized by NGO Democracy House in partnership with the Institute of Governance and Development, and the People’s Majlis along with UNDP, the third Youth Leadership Programme mentored 40 participants from across the country who were selected to take part in the three-week programme.
The participants learnt about cultural awareness, civic education, democratic principles and functions of the parliament through a series of parliamentary education sessions. “At the parliamentary session, one of the MP’s encouraged us to write out our thoughts, so that he could consider them in the Education Bill,” Shanaz excitedly notes. The YLP also focused on key societal issues such as child protection, gender inequality, conflict resolution, human rights, extremism and intolerance of minority groups. UNDP staff also participated in these sessions as resource persons to present and discuss topics such as environmental management and conflict prevention.
While Yaish found the session on reproductive health very refreshing and informative, Shanaz adds that “I have realized that you don’t have to necessarily start this big NGO and undertake several projects to make a difference, but it can start with small things like saying ‘thank you’, and being kind to people who are different from us.” She is determined to teach her young cousins not to discriminate people based on their disabilities, or where they come from.
Yaish and Shanaz observed that the programme was an eye-opener, considering the exposure from activities such as the field trip to the military training island, where they learnt self-defense tactics, and especially the visit to Guraidhoo Special Care Centre, the primary residence for the country’s elderly. “It prompted us to reflect on the human side of things,” says Shanaz.
Shanaz says that no matter where she is in the world, she will take back the lessons she learnt at the YLP with her, and try to make that small difference which would matter. “I have met so many dedicated people, heard so many inspiring stories. I have learned never to give up,” adds Yaish.
- MEET THE TEAM TUESDAY “Care enough to make it right!” Mohamed Izman Suhail Intern – Low Emission Climate Resilient Development (LECReD) Programme "I was fresh out of high school in Male’, when as a United World Colleges (UWC) scholar, I had the opportunity to live with students from more than 90 different countries at boarding school in Norway. This was an eye-opening experience for me, as I got to participate in experiential learning activities like organizing First Aid training camps, managing Leirskule (Norwegian Primary School) events, and hosting cultural learning evenings. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning about things I have only seen on TV or read in books or heard from relatives who had travelled to distant places. One thing that surprised me after two years abroad, was how little I knew about my own country. I tried to educate myself about the place I call home from books and articles online. But I still felt something was missing. Seeing how beneficial the experiential learning activities were for me in Norway, I figured I would be able to learn more about home by being more involved while in my country itself. This is what first made me interested in interning with UNDP Maldives – the development arm of the UN. The programme I am interning under focuses on climate resilient development. I have been studying development-related courses for a while now, but I was eager to experience development work firsthand: I wanted to see the work that was being done to better the lives of this generation without compromising the next. One of the most interesting and rewarding components of the internship would be the field trip to Laamu Atoll. During this field trip, we visited 10 islands in the atoll, and monitored development project sites assisted by my programme – ranging from installation of rainwater harvesting tanks to setting up of waste management centers in the islands. Almost all the projects were initiatives taken by the communities themselves, meaning that these projects are very likely to last a long time since it is the communities that are looking after them. I was also able to see mangrove ecosystems and visit heritage sites in Laamu. This experience within my own country has made me realize all that our island nation has to offer. Would I intern at UNDP or another UN organization in the future? If given the opportunity, definitely. Did I learn about everything I wanted to? Not nearly enough but a lot more than I had hoped for. If my internship taught me anything it’s that while it is important to identify problems in the world, it is even more important to come up with ways to solve them. If you care about what is wrong with the world, then you should care enough to make it right." Tuesday AT 11:36 AM
- Happy Independence Day from all of us here at UNDP Maldives. Tuesday AT 05:07 AM
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