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My name is Edward Sakwa from Stretchers Youth Organization a member organization under Youth Alive Kenya. Currently a NOREC Participant volunteering for Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) in Zimbabwe under south to south youth exchange programme. The programme aims at achieving inclusive participation of young people in development processes in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. I am so excited to be among the only two participants representing Kenya in this programme.

It was exciting and inspiring having learn that I had been selected from a pool of over 500 applicants. Giving me a chance of working with other like-minded young leaders from Malawi and Zimbabwe was one of the best parts of the program. My journey under south to south started on January 2019, when I enrolled as part of the first cohort attending a preparatory course in Kenya and later joining other NOREC participants for the Youth camp in Uganda. Hearing the great things these young leaders have been doing in their respective communities to bring about social change awakened my spirits in keeping on pushing for inclusion of young people in development processes in my country Kenya. As it has been experienced, youth particpation in development processes has been minimal thus having a great contribution  to ineffective pro-youth policies, high rate of unemployment, poor livelihoods and health.

My participation in the program has been an opportunity for me to clearly map out my future, and develop vivid goals in both my personal and professional life. From the program, I am taking away a deep understanding of how I can make a difference in the lives of other young people in my community through advocating for meaningfully youth engagement and participation in development processes. And what I would like to give back to the Program is my commitment to scaling up my efforts to create awareness of the SDGs and empower as many young people as possible.

South to South has been a life-changing platform which has inspired me as young person to be courageous, self-aware, independent, a change-maker, adventurous and goal-oriented. These are the 5 aspects I have noticed myself really grow in. The exchange has impacted me greatly, as I have become a lot more open to new things and a world bigger than just my comfort zone. Personally, I have had a great experience so far, and I am looking forward to what comes next. More learning opportunities, more fun-filled times, more excitement, and more challenges.

South to South Exchange has been an experience, never to be forgotten but forever to be cherished. It has shaped part of my character and changed my view on life. I am having the best time of my life here in Zimbabwe.