Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Development through the Lens of a Young Volunteer: Young People's Contribution towards Social Change

 By Eric Veeto Nyengani - Team Leader 

A life skills session with young people 

Sparing some time to volunteer with YONECO is the best thing one may think of in life. This could help bring answers to some of the questions we usually have.

Different organizations work in the communities where we come from, but it becomes very difficult to understand the impact of the work they are doing to the lives of people. Now YONECO in partnership with ICS, has answers to these and so many other questions and worries.

Knowing all the personal challenges which people are facing in the society may compel a person not to think of volunteering because they may be thinking that they will not meet their targets in life.

Looking back to my school life, my teacher in primary school used to say that nothing is achieved without being sponsored financially, and because of this I thought that volunteering was a waste of time. This was the case as I was focusing on achieving my goals in life, volunteering is not financially supported. Little did I know that volunteering can also have a huge and long lasting impact in achieving my personal goals.

As a community member now, I am fully aware of various negative perceptions about Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and people to get accurate information to smash out these beliefs. Consequently; people, especially the youth, have so many unanswered questions and this also prevents them from finding ways of addressing various SRHR challenges in their communities.

People are constantly trying to understand so many things about SRHR. For instance;  before the YONECO - ICS Programme, both old and young people were asking questions like;

·      Where can I go and access SRH&R information in Nkhata Bay district

·      What can I do if am being abused or my friend is being abused?

·      If my first daughter has been impregnated due to unprotected sex where can I go to get help so that I can protect my second daughter from falling in the same trap?

·      As someone who lives in a rural and remote village, do I also have freedoms and rights?

YONECO - ICS volunteers have assisted a lot to provide answers to all the questions that are present in the community. Furthermore, the Tithandizane Toll Free Helpline number (116) has been widely publicized so much that communities are now able to report cases of abuse and other issues they face.

Our efforts also saw an increase in the number of young people and parents who were visiting  YONECO office in Nkhata Bay to seek SRHR information and counselling as well as some other l issues like the role of parents in the promotion of young people’s sexual reproductive health.

I am very hopeful that the answers that have been given to these communities will have a positive and long lasting impact on their lives as we are all going towards achieving sustainable development.

As an individual, I also benefitted a lot during my placement as a volunteer in Nkhata Bay district. Before we commencement of our activities, I also had my own worries an questions like;

·      Will I be able to stand in front of people to make a presentation and facilitate a session?
·      How am I going to understand the organization’s work in my community?;
·      Where am I going to get the office and field?

A life skills session with secondary school students in
These were some of the questions I had as an individual before I knew YONECO and ICS. My involvement in the ICS program responded to these personal questions which I had by providing answers. I managed to get responses for all the questions that I had.

I experienced this in my first three months as a volunteer when my knowledge was being sharpened and my understanding of situations also increased more than I expected.

However, challenges are always there that is life we just need to accept, being stressed at one point was one of the major challenges I faced in leading the team, coping up with emotions and stress was one of the life skills sessions we conducted in the second week of our placement. This topic contributed further to my understanding in a way that I learned useful management skills on how to deal with such situations.  
This has contributed to my personal development in a way that I understand that without even a single Kwacha {money} one can still develop his/her career. As an active citizen now, I see that volunteering is very rewarding - not financially as most of us expect. The rewards of volunteering are far much greater than what money can buy.  It is so gratifying to see how your contribution is changing people’s lives while you are also building your own self in the process.

The development of our society depends on how everyone will utilize the answers they got to the questions they had. One thing I know for sure is that; answers have been provided for community members to move forward towards the right direction.

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