The Youth Advocate Experience: Facilitating a Training for CHOICE
At CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality we support the creation and strengthening of Meaningful Youth Participation (MYP) in our partner organizations. Our Youth Advocates help our partners by providing trainings to teach them all the ins and outs of MYP. Curious what it’s like for a Youth Advocate to facilitate one of those trainings? Youth Advocate Jinte tells you about her experience in Zimbabwe.
“We have some good news for you…”
I had been nervously waiting for this phone call ever since I read that CHOICE was looking for two volunteers to facilitate a training on meaningful youth participation in Zimbabwe three weeks ago. I had sent my motivation letter in the week before and now I got the good news: Together, Wallis, another youth advocate, and I are going to Zimbabwe!
Preparation, preparation, preparation
But how does it work, facilitating a training abroad on behalf of CHOICE? First step: preparation, a lot of preparation. With the support of CHOICE staff members, we learn more about the background of the training; the Right Here, Right Now program it is part of, what the objectives are, and who will be attending the training. We also have several Skype sessions with our partners in Zimbabwe to make sure that we understand their needs and tailor our training to the participants. Fortunately, CHOICE has recently created an awesome training manual on meaningful youth participation, so we can use many of these sessions in our training.
On our first day of our training, we are both a little nervous. While we are well prepared, you never know how the group will respond. Will they like our sessions and will they participate? Fortunately, our participants, who are all representatives of different Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights organizations in Zimbabwe, are amazing! They are eager to learn more about meaningful youth participation, actively participate in our exercises and love to have fun.
Providing the tools to make MYP happen
All of our participants are either young people themselves or work closely together with young people, so meaningful youth participation is a very relevant topic for them. While most people have some ideas on the issue, our session using the Flower of Participation, a tool created by CHOICE to explain MYP, really helps create a shared understanding of what meaningful youth participation exactly entails and what aspects and preconditions are necessary to allow young people to meaningfully participate in organizations and programs. It is very cool to see how these concepts inspire our participants to reevaluate their own organizations and how they’re already making plans to make youth participation even more meaningful!
Facilitating a training is not just you sharing knowledge; it is also an incredible learning opportunity! Hearing first-handedly about the work that our participants do every day to improve the situation of young people, women and girls, the LGBTQI population and other marginalized groups in Zimbabwe is truly amazing. It is shocking to hear about some of the realities of people living in Zimbabwe: HIV is still omnipresent, homosexual sex is criminalized, youth unemployment rates are extremely high and abortion is illegal under most circumstances, leading to a high number of unsafe abortions. Yet, while often facing many financial, legal or societal obstacles, our participants are passionate to make a difference. Many young people have even started their own organizations to help their peers!
And then, before we know it, the training is over, we have said goodbye to the participants and we are on airplane back home. What rests us now is writing our report and following up with the organizations in Zimbabwe so they can continue to fight for meaningful youth participation in their organizations and even their government. And we? We are left with hearts filled with inspiration from these amazing people and heads full of fantastic memories.
Written by Jinte Veldman.