Guinea-Bissau, which lies along the Atlantic Coast in the Continent and once referred to as the “Slave Coast” but hailed as a potential model for African development; was part of the Portuguese Empire that later gained independence in 1974 with a current population of 1.9 Million people and a life expectancy of 48.7 years. According to the country’s recent statistics, 60% of their population are young people under the age of 25 in a struggling economy grappling with the challenge of youth-unemployment and access to quality healthcare delivery and other basic services.
With a literacy rate of 77.28%, the AAYMCA saw the move as the “prime time” for interventions of this nature. To support or complement the efforts of other agencies and development partners already in the country to help identify G-B’s untapped talents and provide the platform for youth voices to be heard and subsequently be part of the process in rolling out the Sustainable Development Goals focusing on the youth development agenda.
The process started with the visit to the West African Nation by a three-man delegation comprising of Adrien Coly, Zonal Chair; Jean Bassene, NGS- Senegal YMCA; and Christian Kamara, Western Zonal Facilitator. The team visited Government and other major stakeholders from the 2-5 April 2017 to kick-start the discussion on the formation of the YMCA. The engagements with the Honourable Ministers of Culture & Sports and Youth and Employment signaled high hopes, given the impression of both Ministers welcoming the initiatives articulated by the party and pledging their support to the entire process, as there is a dire need to compliment government’s effort in transforming and empowering the lives of young people.
In acquainting them with the work of the YMCA, the Zonal facilitator, Mr. Christian Kamara made reference to the Subject Citizen Concept (S2C) programme which he said, is the flagship youth Programme of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs. The facilitator further dilated on the Agenda 2063 which clearly spells out the Africa young people would like to see. “The Agenda 2063 aims to improve the lives of all Africans by creating a moral vision that shapes the action plan needed to unite Africans through shared values and a common future which is the African Renaissance”, he concluded.
In another meeting with a cross-section of the young people of Guinea-Bissau and an interim Branch of the YMCA, there was a high sense of excitement among the group who have come to the realisation that there is bright future ahead. Recognising that the YMCA seems to be vehicle of that hope to which they themselves are going to be the drivers in maximising their potentials.
During the meeting, one young person expressed his desire to see an organisation that focuses on the social well-being of young people through the transformative programme of the Subject Citizen Concept (S2C) of the AAYMCA. He further stated that there is plethora of challenges faced by young people in his native country and he is very hopeful that with the YMCA, young people can now associate themselves with others to be able to advocate and work towards a much more inclusive future that brightens not only Guinea Bissau but the rest of Africa.
The Head of the Youth Institute who works with all youth serving agencies in Guinea-Bissau, assured the team that the government will support the registration process and will temporarily allocate an office space to get the YMCA started.
The visit was climaxed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Senegal YMCA representing the AAYMCA and the Government of Guinea-Bissau. The team conducted a snap election of an Interim Executive Committee with a clear mandate to roll out an Action Plan which entails the drafting and adoption of a Constitution, registration of the National Movement with the government of Guinea-Bissau, and to share their monthly activity plan and reports with the Senegal YMCA who will in turn share quarterly updates with the Africa Alliance of YMCA.
The AAYMCA, through the Western Zonal Facilitator, will continue to lend support and monitor the activities of the new YMCA until it is formally adopted as a full member of both the Continental and Global Alliances.