Determined to Develop held a residential Youth Leadership Workshop between the 2nd and 4th April for all the students who have their school fees paid through the D2D Youth Sponsorship Program. The workshop was held over Easter, during the school holidays to give as many youth as possible a chance to attend and also to provide some structure for the students through their holidays.
The workshop was attended by over 160 students, the majority of whom attend secondary school, but we also had some attendees from primary schools, many who are residential (meaning they live onsite), and some of our neighbors. All 160 students stayed and ate at Maji Zuwa for the duration of the workshop and participated in a series of talks and interactive sessions.
The aim of the workshop was to provide a complementary element to our sponsorship program, giving students the tools they need to become leaders in their schools and communities, so they feel able to make informed decisions for themselves. The workshop therefore covered a diverse range of topics, identified as through our interaction with the youth and the issues we see that are pertinent to them in their daily lives.
The agenda included a number of different facilitators, including external speakers, D2D staff, and students who have successfully completed school through the Sponsorship Program and are now studying at university. The first evening saw us welcome the students, and start with a session on behavior and respect. The second day began with a session on life skills, looking at self-esteem and setting goals. We then had a group session on health and sexual health, including exercise, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS with a local health worker. After lunch, the boys and girls split and had talks and an open forum where they could ask questions to staff about anything related to sexual health and puberty. This was a very successful element to the program. The third day covered practical skills; time management, budgeting and study skills, followed by an interactive session on peer pressure and decision-making.
The closing session was a careers talk where five external speakers, both male and female, came from a range of institutions to discuss how they entered their professions. Everybody was fully engaged in the session, with lots of questions being asked by all of the youth. The speakers focused on how planning and preparing for a future career starts at school.
As well as the formal sessions, we held a talent show in the evening, which was a huge hit and had great participation. We were treated to dancing, poems, comedy sketches, drama and speeches. Having all the sponsored youth gathered in one place was fantastic both for the youth themselves and also for the staff as it allowed us to see the real scope of the sponsorship program. We feel the workshop had a great impact on the students, many of whom did not want to leave at the end of the three days! We hope to hold other such events in the future, continuing to expand the non-formal education aspect of our Youth Sponsorship Program and supporting these 160 kids to push themselves and build better futures.
Tawonga chomene (We thank you)