Travel Stories

U.N.

         The IAAP team described the history of our partnership with GCA and the Office of the First Lady and various Ministries in Lesotho, Africa, for the Girls Empowerment Programme, and the model and success of that project.
         The youth development and leadership initiative, under the Department of Social Development, is supported at the Ministerial level. The goals are to provide youth with life skills and heightened self-esteem to meet challenges and build leadership ability; to provide opportunities to develop awareness and understanding of community issues, problems and resources; to develop youth-led programs in their communities; and to work on ideas to improve their communities better. Director of the Department Luka explained that youth is defined as ages 18-35, in terms of four categories: youth at school; youth out of school; youth in institutions; and youth as Change Agents. To identify “Youth as Change Agents,” the Department assesses poor households and identifies able-bodied individuals who can change the household situation and serve as support for other individuals to achieve their dreams. The goals are to build local capacity and job-creating opportunities, and to have a household change agent and a community change agent in each district. Consistent with the focus on community development, community needs are assessed. One value-based program, for youth out-of-school who have not passed matriculation, offers an accredited program that serves as a bridge to enter university.
         Empowerment is very important; and supplements to the Life Skills currently provided in schools would be helpful. Education has to be practical and focus on developing the inner person. Drug and alcohol abuse, and also teen pregnancy rates, are very high in areas, so developing capacities in youth to avoid falling into these traps is crucial. To embellish programming already in the villages, Day Camps and Residential camps would be valuable, ideally for all four categories, year-round, starting with a general model that would be adapted for each of the four youth categories. A community facilitator would assist after the residential camp, when the campers return to their communities, to help develop local capacity. The community should also be invited to see the Camps, to foster community-building and social cohesion. After a year, all the attendees would be followed up to ascertain the outcome and assess what’s working well.
         The challenge is the cost of such programming as financial resources are limited; additional donors from the private sector can be approached. Some camps have been run with students from private schools, which creates cross-subsidization; the ones who can pay subsidize the ones who cannot.  This provides more cohesion. Boarding Schools or churches could be used as facilities. Day Camp programs are successful and cost considerably less. In terms of job development, many GCA counselors have gotten permanent jobs with other organizations (e.g. in the private sector and with NGOs) after having worked at the Camps.
         Department of Social Development staff hope to also meet during the International Congress of Psychology (ICP) in Cape Town, South Africa, July 2012.

Maybe I'm just an inveterate anti-intellectual ... but this just reeks of paternalism ...