This Q and A Session featured Amanda Chenai Makombe and Binuel Phale to commemorate World Humanitarian Day. They are NOREC Exchange Participants (2023) based at Youth Alive! Kenya
On this World Humanitarian Day, we celebrate the acts of humanity, solidarity, and generosity shown by those who dedicate their lives to helping others in times of crisis. We encourage individuals, governments, and organizations to come forward, support humanitarian efforts, and advocate for the observance of international humanitarian law.
Youth Alive! Kenya: What does World Humanitarian Day (WHD) mean to you, and why is it important?
Amanda: WHD means celebrating those who show concern for the welfare of others and selflessly commit their time and resources. This is significant because it offers a chance to honor and celebrate those who rise to the occasion for others during times of crisis.
Binuel: World Humanitarian Day is a time for me to reflect on the global challenges that people face all over the world. It is important because it reminds us all of our shared responsibility to promote kindness, empathy, and assistance. to vulnerable populations.
Youth Alive! Kenya: Examples of local initiatives you have participated in to support communities in fragile contexts?
Amanda: Back home in Zimbabwe, I was a play volunteer during Cyclone Idai. I played with children who were victims of the cyclone. I also led a campaign known as Pad Pals that distributes pads and pens for girls in both Peri-urban and rural Zimbabwe.. Since being in Kenya, my involvement with YAK has afforded me the chance to contribute to a school feeding program and participate in the distribution of dignity kits. These experiences have enabled me to connect with women, girls, and children from informal settlements and slums.
Binuel: I have been involved in various local initiatives in both Malawi and Kenya. In Malawi, I was part of a group that organized food drives for homeless individuals and those displaced from their homes due to natural disasters. For example, I participated in relief efforts following the recent Cyclone Freddy that impacted thousands of people in Malawi earlier this year, in February and March. During my time at Youth Alive! Kenya I have supported several humanitarian initiatives including a school feeding program and the provision of dignity kits to young women and refugees in Pumwani Ward, an informal settlement in Nairobi.
Youth Alive! Kenya: How can we encourage young people to get involved in humanitarian work and develop a sense of global citizenship?
Amanda: Charity begins at home. No effort is little ,young people can volunteer ,advocate or raise donations for refugee or migrant communities. They can also use their creative talents to raise awareness around humanitarian issues.
Binuel: By integrating global issues and volunteer opportunities into school curricula to raise awareness and inspire empathy among young people. Secondly, there should be more youth-led volunteer events and activities in our communities. Involving young people will help amplify the reach of humanitarian initiatives in local communities.
Youth Alive! Kenya: Which Humanitarian or social protection policies can young people influence at the County and National level?
Amanda: By taking a proactive and strategic approach young people can effectively influence the implementation and improvement of the Kenya Refugee Act 2021, contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate refugee policy framework. Through the provisions of the Kenya National Disaster Management policy (KNDMP) young people can command urgency and a buzz in the face of crisis -floods, pandemic etc. from both county and national government. By the way – thumbs up to Kenya for the Refugee and Displacement policies.
Binuel: In terms of policies, I believe Kenya possesses commendable policies on paper. However, the effective implementation of these policies still requires considerable improvement. The responsibility now rests on the young people of this nation to champion advocacy for the comprehensive execution of these policies at both the county and national levels. Among these policies is the 2011 Kenya National Social Protection Policy, which outlines diverse social protection programs encompassing cash transfer initiatives, access to essential healthcare, well-being, welfare, and poverty alleviation. Moreover, young individuals can wield influence over the National Food and Nutrition Policy. This is significant as Article 43 (1) of the Kenyan Constitution ensures the right of every individual to be free from hunger and to access adequate food of acceptable quality.
Youth Alive! Kenya: What steps are being taken to integrate environmental sustainability and resilience-building into humanitarian policies and practices?
Amanda: The Kenya Nation Adaptation Plan 2015 -2030 is a good starting point. This national framework reflects the commitment of Kenya in recognizing the interconnection between environmental challenges and the welfare of the people. Some of the steps taken under the plan include climate risk assessment, community engagement and collaboration of multi -stakeholders.
Binuel: The enactment of The National Climate Change Act shows that Kenya is on the right track in terms of integrating environmental sustainability and resilience-building because this Act provides a legal framework for addressing climate change related challenges and integrating climate considerations into humanitarian and social protection policies and also humanitarian responses.
Youth Alive! Kenya: Who are the humanitarian heroes in your life or community that you would like to recognize and appreciate on this day?
Amanda: A huge shout out to a few of the unsung heroes in my life -my mother ,my brothers and sisters. I recognize and appreciate Praymore who helped locate bodies and survivors during Cyclone Idai .I also acknowledge Dr Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Dr Tererai Trent, Va Masunda .
Binuel: I would like to commend the following 5 humanitarian champions in Malawi (in no particular order) for their dedicated efforts in making a positive impact in the lives of those in need. Their compassion and commitment are truly inspiring. The former president of Malawi, Dr Joyce Banda, Temwani Chilenga, Napoleon Dzombe, Shepherd Bushiri and Deborah Mbale of Mai Mbambande.