We held the PARTICIPATE! International Conference from 17th to 25th October 2022 bringing together participants from Kenya, Denmark and Zimbabwe. The participants were drawn from members organizations of Youth Alive! Kenya , YETT Zimbabwe , and the Danish Youth Council (DUF). The objective of the convening was to foster cross-country learning, networking, development of partnerships and co-creation of change projects and activities that would qualify for funding from the DUFs (Danish Youth Council) international pool.
PARTICIPATE! promotes a democratic civil society where young people act as change agents that take part in decision-making processes and influence politics and developmental efforts.
In this write-up, Cwebile a participant, reflects on the 10-day event and what she learned.
I am Cwebile Sibanda, a creative entrepreneur, a poetess, an actress, human rights champion and an experienced HR practitioner who holds a Masters in Business Leadership and Bachelor of Commerce Honors Degree in Human Resources Management (Lupane State University, Zimbabwe). Currently, I am the Senior Programs Manager at Victory Siyanqoba Trust . I am responsible for conceptualization and implementation of programs.
Victory Siyanqoba was formed in 2008 as a community theatre group specializing in creative advocacy through edutainment. The youthful theatre outfit was registered as a Trust in May 2011 (Registration Number: MA 314/2011). It is a non-political, creative and innovative community based youth-led arts organization (CBO) with over 10-years of experience in conceptualizing, designing, devising, hosting, implementing and managing high impact human rights awareness and educational artivism within the grassroots and marginalized communities using Creative Expressions and Innovative Cultural Toolkits.
Victory Siyanqoba Trust is a human rights defenders national award winner of the Outstanding Human Rights Defender CBO of the Year Award, 2015 (Zimrights Awards 2015) and Outstanding Theatre Production Award in 2021.
WHAT I LEARNT AT THE CONFERENCE
- Power of Collaboration, Networking and Partnerships- we are stronger together.
- Project Design – need for smart project ideas.
- Advocacy skills – methodologies and innovative concepts for advocacy.
- Self-care and leadership skills – dealing with issues of stress, fatigue , depression: mental health issues.
MY BIGGEST MEMORY
- The need to mainstream and champion SDGs in our programming.
- Embracing our diversity and uniqueness as a strategic pillar to achieve more in civic work.
HOW THE CONFERENCE HELPED US TO CREATE DEMOCRATIC CHANGE WITH A GLOBAL VIEW
- The conference brought diverse youth from three (3) countries. We shared experience, knowledge, skills and great ideas. This became a foundation for greater networking and shared programming.
- The power of partnerships was established. We got to connect in the social media world, learning new ways of advocacy, re-learning best practices of programming and unlearning unproductive cultures and strategies.
- The conference was a microcosmic opportunity to interrogate and explore the global village, learning from Denmark and Kenya as a Zimbabwean youth was enlightening.
On behalf of myself and our organization- Victory Siyanqoba, the thousands of the youths we serve in our Matabeleland region and the communities thereof, we extend our sincere gratitude to YETT, DUF and Youth Alive for their continued strong network and partnership that has seen us participate at this level of engagement.
The conference, Participate 2022, gave us a rare opportunity to mix and mingle, deliberate and dialogue, and create long lasting partnerships as a youth force.
From other countries, we have shared, learnt and gained a lot.
As we strategize and plan towards 2023, we are rejuvenated, empowered and ready to take forward the work of human rights and democracy.
At Victory Siyanqoba, our strategic community engagement initiatives include:
1) Community I.D.E.A.S ( Information, Dialogue , Edutainment , Awareness & Synergies) –
Laundry Cafes, Creative Advocacy Cafes, Roadshows, Street Theatre-Theatre, Flash- Mobs, Dialogue Series, Focus Group Meetings, Workshops, Seminars, Conferences, Constitutional Theatre Cafes.
2) Social Community Arts Development (S.C.A.D)
Community Creative Programs For Talent Development And Capacity Building: Eziko Theatre Laboratory, Teanet Effect, Township Messengers Poetry Initiative, Setso Sa Rona Rural Talent Expo, Eita Schools Performing Arts Championiships.
3) Performing Arts Projects
Chimora Icons, V.S. Multi-Stage Arts, International, Collaborative / Partnership Works, Commissioned Works.
Senior Programs Manager
Victory Siyanqoba Trust