As I listened, I felt the depth of feeling that the leaders have for the development of young people. The obstacles they face in delivering this service to young people was painful at times, but yet, they still soldier on and do their best to advance and transform their YMCA to be more relevant and responsive to the needs of young people. Their aspirations and dreams for the YMCA are amazing. The projects and programmes they implement to attract young people both knowledgeable and inspiring.
It was very enlightening listening to different leaders and speakers from different back grounds who shared their realities and understanding of the role the YMCA plays in the lives of young people. It begged the question: are we a social movement or still operating as an institution but for most continents the YMCAs, we are already operating as a social movement such as the Africa Alliance of YMCAs with programmes like the S2C and Africa we want models. Both already attracting a vast number of young people in different national movements in Africa.
Our session allowed us to share our experiences as S2C Ambassadors / Change Agents on how we have been empowered as young people through these models. Everyone present has a common goal which is to work for youth empowerment. Since I attended one regional training and two global gatherings, I based most of my experience from the last global gathering which was in Chiangmai, Thailand and how I utilized my training, highlights, networks and most of all the knowledge gained. Explaining how I transitioned back into my National movement and benefited it. It was amusing that most national leaders resonated with our experiences as of those shared from their own Change Agents in their respective countries.
Perhaps the picture some may have seen, during the NGSs meeting, was a bunch of old men and women talking about youth empowerment without understanding how these “old men” can be leading the process of youth empowerment. Yet, from where I sat, the picture I take home with me is a room full of years and years of experience. Experience that has been tried and tested. Though mature in appearance, very young at heart. People who are willing to share the dreams, hopes and aspirations of a YMCA that is action oriented, youth focused and solution – driven. Men and women who dream together with the young generation to make the YMCA a ‘Go to’ place.
I take home with me lessons that our leaders are confident and believe in us to take up the mantle of leadership and utilize the many resources invested in us. To empower us with hands – on skills that are practical in application, especially with the current local and global injustices. I went home with a vast network of highly motivated individuals that will mentor, develop and guide me in my development as a global youth leader. Their strong and brutal honesty in confronting sensitive issues in a respectful way, without compromising their local situations, gave me hope that they are not afraid to talk about issues that affect young people daily.
I have grown as a leader in my style, delivery and presentation by being among these great leaders from over 50 countries.
Kenny Travis Kafwanka
S2C Ambassador / Change agent / Local General Secretary.