Stories from the YALI Connect Camp 15- Ethiopia
We started off the week with songs, laughs, and tears of joy during our first introductions at the YALI Connect Camp 15. Participants have arrived from eleven different countries. Pairs are representing Burundi, Guinea Bissau, Uganda, D.R. Congo, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Ghana, Zambia and Rwanda. This diversity made for hilarious introductions as everybody first attempted pronouncing each others names. These participants have come ready and eager to challenge themselves as well as each other as they learn and utilized the tools for leadership development. Innovation for sustainable social change, How to reach success with what I have, Open-mindedness and respect for diversity, Working with others with different ideas, capacity building for youth, building mentorship skills, and how to inspire are just a few of the goals that the participants have outlined that they want to work on. During the afternoon on Monday, the Connect Camp was officially opened by Mr. David Kennedy, of Public Affairs Office from U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa. David was really excited to see the workshop become a reality and to hear what each participant was doing to change lives in their respective communities.
Day two started off with identifying issues that people see in their communities at home. Next, they divided into teams by which issues they wanted to address. A few key issues that participants identified are: gender based violence, lack of youth engagment, youth unemployment, dilapidated community spaces, and women’s high dependency. The groups imagined what their communities would be like if these challenges did not exist. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, they focused on what works well in their communities and how these strengths may help them to achieve their goals. Asset-based development encourages leaders to look inside their community for help, rather than outside. By focusing on what they have, they can mobilize resources without too much additional cost.
Thursday the participants were back to work in the classroom practicing convergent thinking to solidify their ideas and approaches to solve their community issues. Each group has created a theory of change, or conscious multi-part strategy for reaching their goals. The participants also practiced pitching their ideas to acquire the type of resources they would need. Throughout this ideation phase, participants have been thinking about all of the assets already available within each member of their community. Every community is rich in resources and capital other than money alone. This type of thinking and strategizing is the real tool that participants can take home with them to teach to others.
By Friday this cohort felted empowered and better able to have a positive influence their social or political systems at home. After one last morning session, the participants got ready for our graduation ceremony. After an inspiring ceremony, we had a fun-filled and delicious dinner to close out the week.
Thank you to all who have helped to make this Connect Camp 15 such an incredible success. We look forward to hearing about the incredible work our YALI Fellows will be doing in the future!
See our Connect Camp 15 Photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47974335@N06/albums/72157665258773768