“I come from a Senegalese region that is still in the throes of a 30 year old conflict. From the first S2C training in Addis, I realised that I have been a subject all through my life for not using my full potential in bringing change in community and contributing to bringing peace to Casamance”. With these words, Ansoumana (Papis) Dieme, clearly paints a picture of the personal transformation he has gone through as a result of the S2C Ambassador training process.
Papis actively works as volunteer community Youth Leader in the Senegal YMCA post-conflict reconstruction project being implemented in Casamance. Due to the leadership skills Papis has learned through the S2C programme he has been elected as chairperson of his community Sports and Cultural Association Board. He also represents his community at regional soccer championship executive committee.
Papis’ greatest achievement as S2C ambassador dates back to the recent presidential elections in Senegal. According to Papis young people are reluctant to vote because they don’t trust the system and claim there is no need to vote when you know that the results will be biased at the end of the day. With the proactive spirit S2C encourages, Papis embarked on intensive sensitisation programme to engage youth with the voting process. He gathered together young people from within his community through several meetings to educate participants on the benefits of being civically active. He also worked to ensure that participants without national ID or voter’s card would apply for them and succeeded in creating an understanding of the stake citizen have in choosing the political leaders of their country.
As a result, youth of his community turned out to vote in February and March 2012 and many of them would later thank him for providing the opportunity to be part of history of the country and to bringing a transitional political change in the country. For Papis, the large youth turn out and the change in the way youth perceive their voting roles and responsibilities has become his greatest success and achievement and speaks to the true spirit of S2C.
This article forms part of a series of success stories of 15 recently graduated S2C Ambassadors. Subject to Citizen (S2C) is the foundational philosophy of all our work both within the YMCA movement, driven by the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA), and in our programmatic outputs. This philosophy emphasises the importance of young people having a voice, space and ability to influence their choices and the outcome of their lives as individuals and within their communities. S2C Ambassadors graduate after a three-year training programme, and Papis is from the first group who recently graduated in Zimbabwe, June 2012.