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Spotlight on Africa: celebrating International Youth Day

Young people under 30 make up half the world’s population.

And the problems facing the world in the years to come will be ours to solve. 

From July through and past Youth Day in August, we've brought hundreds of ICS volunteers together across Africa, Asia and the UK to celebrate the programme’s incredible achievements so far.

On International Youth Day - the UN's flagship day to celebrate young people and highlight the issues and challenges they face around the world - we look at what our African programmes have been doing this week.

ICS Director Felicity Morgan introduces Youth Day 2018
Volunteers in Iganga, Uganda, appeared on national TV to talk about their event
© NTV
ICS alumni Betty Nantongo was interviewed about the importance of safe spaces

1. Iganga, Uganda, Balloon

In Iganga, eastern Uganda, volunteers were interviewed on national TV channel NTV about their Youth Day activities.

The huge event saw a parade through the town centre with bands, dancing and music, with school volunteers and community groups joining in - and even an appearance from Miss Earth Uganda!

Betty Nantongo, 26, was a Team Leader in Mbale in 2015. "Safe spaces matter because we have talented, passionate and enthusiastic young people living in these Ugandan communities - and the one challenge they face is a lack of an environment where they can showcase what they do. We need environments where they can fully express themselves - such as youth centres for them to converge, platforms to develop their confidence, finance to access training - rather than barriers that affect their ability to engage with their communities."

Mupenzi brass band take part in a parade
© Betty Nantongo
Mupenzi brass band take part in a parade
An ICS-supported entrepreneur donated their products
© Betty Nantongo
An ICS-supported entrepreneur donated their products


 

Volunteers met with local policymakers to get their views across
© Jan Bochinski
Volunteers met with local policymakers to get their views across

2. Taita Taveta, Kenya, VSO

In Kenya it's not just a day of celebrations - but a week.

VSO ICS alumni started the week by planting 80 trees at Wundanyi Primary School, where they'd been running peer education sessions. Each tree planted has been adopted by a student who'll be responsible for taking care of it!

They also ran an digital marketing skills training session for 80 young people in Voi, led by external speakers from Google and Kenyan freelance site Ajira, and hosted HIV testing sessions for young people in Taveta and Manugu.

Jan Bochinski, 29, is the Team Leader. He says: "By volunteering and engaging with local communities young people become more sensitive to the issues of others. They are the ones who can relate to their peers best and communicate with them in the most effective way. In counties like Taita Taveta, where we specifically focus on helping youth, engaging young people in all our activities is essential!"

Students adopted a tree that they'll go on to take care of
© Jan Bochinski
Students adopted a tree that they'll go on to take care of
80 young people were taught digital marketing skills by Google
© Jan Bochinski
80 young people were taught digital marketing skills by Google


 

Volunteers in Machakos march through the town centre
© Lukasz Wiktorowicz
Volunteers in Machakos march through the town centre

3. Machakos, Kenya, VSO

You couldn't miss International Youth Day if you were in Machakos yesterday.

A huge march to make noise about issues affecting young people in Kenya saw Machakos' high street turned into a loud, bright parade of dancing and music.

Elise Metcalf, 22, is volunteering in Machakos. "We were thrilled with the positive reaction our event received from the community. As volunteers in Machakos, we have been working to empower youths and help them to improve their livelihoods. Seeing young people come together to celebrate their achievements was hugely rewarding."

Volunteers have worked alongside the Kenya Red Cross
© Lukasz Wiktorowicz
Volunteers have worked alongside the Kenya Red Cross
Machakos is one of ICS' longest-running placements
© Lukasz Wiktorowicz
Machakos is one of ICS' longest-running placements


 

Project coordinator Jane Muthoni chairs a football match between volunteers and young people
© Brian Otieno
Project coordinator Jane Muthoni chairs a football match between volunteers and young people

4. Nandi, Kenya, VSO

Volunteers in Nandi have been busy bringing the community together for their Youth Day celebrations.

Their fruit tree planting at Kaptel brought police sergeants together with volunteers and local young people for meaningful conversations, while Baxstone, a young deaf man from Nandi - and also a community volunteer - spoke about how to ensure disabled people's rights are protected.

Keeping with the theme of this year's Youth Day, a local politician talked about the importance of young people in Nandi having safe spaces available to them.

Brian Otieno, 23, is a Kenyan volunteer in Nandi. He said: "Safe spaces means empowering young people through four pillars - access to quality universal healthcare, food and nutrition security, affordable housing and youth innovation to enhance income. Safe spaces allows young people to share diverse opinions and ideas to create lasting and inclusive solutions."

The Nandi team brought together volunteers and stakeholders
© Brian Otieno
The Nandi team brought together volunteers and stakeholders
Local police took part in the tree planting
© Brian Otieno
Local police took part in the tree planting


 

Siaya volunteers take part in an ICS dance-a-long
© Alana Dunsmore
Siaya volunteers take part in an ICS dance-a-long

5. Siaya, Kenya, VSO

In Siaya, things got active as volunteers took to the floor for a salsa class with over 50 young people.

At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hall in Bondo Town, a day of activities took place including speeches from ICS alumni on their personal experiences, a theatrical role play on women's rights, and even an #ICS4change dance-a-long!

Alana Dunsmore is 18 and on the Siaya team. "It's so important for young people to see that other young people care and want to help the next generation. If youths support youths then it provides a platform for problem sharing while maintaining that focus on the issues that are relevant to them."

Volunteers shared their stories of personal development
© Alana Dunsmore
Volunteers shared their stories of personal development
And the team held a salsa class for 50 young people
© Alana Dunsmore
And the team held a salsa class for 50 young people

See how we celebrated in the UK

From passionate speeches to new opportunities