Dreams from the Youth

They came from very different worlds, but left with a common vision and shared goals following the Youth Leadership Programme

YLP
Youth Leadership Programme participants being given information about the work of the UN in the Maldives. Photo: UNDP Maldives 2012.

“People often see youth as a problem waiting to happen”

Adam Yaish, 16, attended school in Thoddoo Island, in the North of the Maldives, and Shanaz Mohamed, 19, goes to university miles away in Malaysia. Yet when they met at the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) a few months later in Bandos Island Resort in the Maldives, the platform acted as the catalyst that tied together their shared vision: to change the perception about youth as being idle and incapable, by doing something about it.

Highlights

  • The third Youth Leadership Programme mentored 40 participants from across the country who were selected to take part in the three-week programme.
  • The participants learnt about cultural awareness, civic education, democratic principles and functions of the parliament through a series of parliamentary education sessions.
  • The YLP also focused on key societal issues such as child protection, gender inequality, conflict resolution, human rights, extremism and intolerance of minority groups.

“Youth are often considered as being too young to stand up, voice out or contribute positively to our societies. I feel the youth are not taken seriously, or as a priority. We have to change that. It will be hard, but we have to try,” says Yaish. He adds that the YLP has created the avenue for the youth to develop critical skills such as personal development and leadership skills, which would come in handy when participants ultimately take on the daunting tasks of making a difference in their communities when they leave the programme. Both participants agree that the programme has helped develop many skills they lacked, such as the confidence to speak publicly, and to be more assertive.


"I feel the youth are not taken seriously, or as a priority." - Adam Yaish. Photo: UNDP Maldives 2012.

Organized by NGO Democracy House in partnership with the Institute of Governance and Development, and the People’s Majlis along with UNDP, the third Youth Leadership Programme mentored 40 participants from across the country who were selected to take part in the three-week programme.

The participants learnt about cultural awareness, civic education, democratic principles and functions of the parliament through a series of parliamentary education sessions. “At the parliamentary session, one of the MP’s encouraged us to write out our thoughts, so that he could consider them in the Education Bill,” Shanaz excitedly notes. The YLP also focused on key societal issues such as child protection, gender inequality, conflict resolution, human rights, extremism and intolerance of minority groups. UNDP staff also participated in these sessions as resource persons to present and discuss topics such as environmental management and conflict prevention.


"...We can start with small things like saying ‘thank you’, and being kind to people who are different from us.” - Shanaz Mohamed. Photo: UNDP Maldives 2012.

While Yaish found the session on reproductive health very refreshing and informative, Shanaz adds that “I have realized that you don’t have to necessarily start this big NGO and undertake several projects to make a difference, but it can start with small things like saying ‘thank you’, and being kind to people who are different from us.” She is determined to teach her young cousins not to discriminate people based on their disabilities, or where they come from.

Yaish and Shanaz observed that the programme was an eye-opener, considering the exposure from activities such as the field trip to the military training island, where they learnt self-defense tactics, and especially the visit to Guraidhoo Special Care Centre, the primary residence for the country’s elderly. “It prompted us to reflect on the human side of things,” says Shanaz.

Shanaz says that no matter where she is in the world, she will take back the lessons she learnt at the YLP with her, and try to make that small difference which would matter. “I have met so many dedicated people, heard so many inspiring stories. I have learned never to give up,” adds Yaish.