Activist Chat Summer Camp wraps up

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A-five-day youth and children’s summer camp organised by Activist Chat Academy for 60 children ended on Sunday at Bijilo.

The theme of the camp was “unlock and harness the potential of young people”.

The participants were coached in various fields and topics ranging from entrepreneurship concept, child right and safety, art and culture, young people and technology, Gambia history, career guidance and counseling, health, sport and environment, empowerment, mentorship, leadership, patriotic orientation and responsibility, as well as skills and self-confidence development building.

Mariama M. Samba, founder Activist Chat Academy, speaking at the opening of the camp, recalled that the first step in ActivistChat Academy’s contribution towards youth development and youth empowerment was taken in 2016 when the organization independently and successfully conducted a maiden initiative in the form of a youth pilot project in her home village of Jambanjelly.

Ms Samba pointed out that the successes of young people depend on elders, government, and other stakeholders, adding that she really believes in young people, which was why she organised the summer camp.

She observed that half of the world’s population is under the age of 27, saying that young people around the world and in The Gambia would not only determine their future but define today what the world look like.

She said that young people face many burdens as they are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and yet, millions are better informed, more socially responsible and know more about the digital and social revolution than anyone.

“Young people are at the forefront of change and innovation, and many have the spirit to make things happen,” she said, pointing out that they just need to be given the space to excel.

“We truly need young people’s voices. As a society I don’t think we can survive without truly listening to young people and helping to develop their skills”.

According to Ms Samba, the youth are not failing the system; rather it is the system that is failing the youth.

Increasing investment in young people is key, she highlighted, saying, this includes promoting quality relevant education that prepares them for future opportunities.

She also said that there was a critical need to involve young people in decisions that affect and would affect them.

 Assistant Director at SOS Children Village, Omar Beyai, for his part, said the majority of the Gambian population is young people, adding that the majority of these young people who graduate yearly are left wandering without hope.

He highlighted the need to train those not academically inclined with employable skills, saying no one is born stupid as they all have their own ways of doing things and need to respect God-given talents.

“Our future not only lies in the hands of government but also in the hands of National Youth Council as the umbrella body responsible for young people in the country,” he pointed out.

He advised Ms Samba to be steadfast as the road to success could be challenging.

In his opening statement, Alagie Jarju, Program Manager at the National Youth Council informed young people that education does do stop within the four corners of the class room.

He called on young people not to see age as a limit to their potentials, saying that to be able to unlock their potentials as young people, it was important to have skills.

He urged young people to believe in themselves as well as capitalise on the opportunities available to them.

 He further urged young people to start being responsible now in order for the future to be easier for them.

He assured Ms Samba of his office’s support at all times and thanked her for the initiative.

Awa Jarra, Gamhousing Real Estate representative, in her remarks, said young people need to be considered to have a bright future as they are the future leaders.

She expressed their willingness to continue supporting youth and youth initiatives.

Activist Chat Academy is a pilot program initiated by Mariam M. Samba, a Gambian youth activist and youth advocate.

Mariam has devoted her time to creating an active platform addressing current socio-economic issues affecting youths in The Gambia; such as education, job opportunities, and meaningful participation in society.

 Activist Chat Academy is committed to inclusive youth advocacy, and has consistently championed the rights of youths with disabilities, so that their voices and viewpoints could be heard at the national and international levels.

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb