“Let’s believe in each other and let’s move forward – because we need the young people to be transformed, and we need communities to be transformed as well.”
On day four of Y Care International’s Partner Conference 2022, ‘Walking Together in Partnership’, we sat down to talk to Christian Kamara, Executive Director and General Secretary of YMCA Sierra Leone.
Partner Conference has been an opportunity for exchange. As stated at the start of the event, ‘local people have a PHD in their own community’, and in addressing poverty head-on. The organisations represented during the week offered their own insights, experiences and stories of the challenges they are overcoming in their communities.
As part of this exchange, the previous day, conference delegates were hosted in four communities in Malawi which were benefiting from such local projects. We began by asking Christian about his experience – who he visited, and what he saw.
AGLIT+ is a Malawian NGO that walks with young people, mostly teenage mothers who drop out of school, young girls who have been abused or who have been the victims of early marriage. It has established projects in in several communities in the Chikwawa region, where it provides a full government-approved curriculum to enable these young women to attain qualifications and vocational skills for life and for future careers.
You can read more about the organisation, and its founder Hazel Manda, on Y Care International’s website.
The visit was moving for many, especially given the challenging background and experiences of some of the young women:
“For me, it was so emotional when I saw very young girls in the age of eleven to twelve carrying babies. But no matter what the condition they were going through, they felt that they could still come back and get (literacy).”
Walking alongside young people
Christian is passionate about helping young people find their voice and has a wealth of experience with projects that aim to impact young people’s futures and fulfil youth potential – especially in his work at YMCA Sierra Leone and as Zonal Facilitator for West African YMCAs. He is involved in sustainable youth initiatives in the country, including the national Youth Farm, bringing agricultural expertise and income-generating skills to young people, and the National Youth Coalition, which campaigns for greater participation and inclusion of young voices in society.
Reflecting on what he has seen and learned from the stories of other partners at the conference, Christian described what makes working with Y Care International so distinct:
“The approach of Y Care International for me is a very good approach.”
“I don’t move the agenda of people in the west, in the north or in the south. I move my own agenda and what my young people (in) my community need. No matter the resources that you have, it doesn’t move me. What moves me, is when you’re ready to listen to me.”
Walking Together in Partnership
The Walking Together in Partnership conference brought these two organisations, and many others like them, together – for the sharing of knowledge and insights, for organisational learning, and to share the inspirational work they’re doing.
You can watch the keynote and panel sessions, along with the closing and opening ceremonies from Partner Conference 2022 online.
Join us over the coming weeks as we continue to share stories of communities walking together to see every young person’s potential fulfilled.
[This blog was written by Y Care International’s Digital Marketing Officer, Alex Akhurst]
You can read more about the Partner Conference in the coming days on the stories section of our website.