It’s a new year and a new wave of human rights defenders and promoters have committed themselves to be Youth Human Rights Peer Educators to further promote a peaceful and harmonious Africa.
From the 18th to the 20th June 2021, Africa Unite held its third Youth Human Rights Peer Educators Training Weekend this year in addition to the two held in Kwa Zulu Natal and Gauteng Provinces early this year. The training was held at the Saldanha Bay Municipal resort which is located 111km North-West of Cape Town, South Africa.
This workshop was conducted in partnership with the Saldanha Bay Municipality (SBM) and acts as a device for future collaborations between the SBM and Africa Unite.
The training took place in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and is also the first year no members of the Africa exchange program were present, the training included a diverse group of youth from across the African continent, from a group of 19 young people (11 participants from Cape Town and 8 from the Saldanha Bay Municipality how many male & female). Of the 19 South African participants, 4 were originally from outside of the country (The Netherlands, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which adds to the diverse group of cultures, languages and experiences to the weekend and training. The purpose of the training was to capacitate young people from different backgrounds with knowledge and necessary skills in Human Rights for them to become Youth Human Rights Peer Educators in their respective communities and countries.
During this 3-day training, the facilitators covered the following content:
Human Rights Principles
Human Rights Education: What and Why?
Instruments protecting Human Rights locally and globally.
The rights of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, women, children, elderly people, refugees and migrants etc).
How to build Human Rights Communities.
How to facilitate human rights information sessions in various communities and countries.
In addition to this, we had a meeting on challenges facing young people in their respective communities and how young people could help bring solutions.
During the training, the youth were divided into 4 countries namely, (1) Cameroon, (2) Mozambique, (3) Ghana and (4) Kenya. Most of their group work was done according to the above country groups. One of the highlights of the weekend training was the mock African Union assemblies where each country group was invited to make a presentation under the following indicators: (1) a brief history about the country, (2) current political issues, (3) socio-economic and cultural dynamics, (4) The resources of the Country and (5) In case they win, how each country intends to use the $50 billion donations in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
After different presentations were done by the President of each country, Kenya took the prize due to their highly creative presentation (including their creative dress code), teamwork and well-informed presentation on the country they represented. Cameroon came in a very close 2nd.
To mimic the traditional winning procedure, the group members were issued a mock cheque of $50 billion as well as a suitcase containing the funds for aid to their country. Nonetheless, the purpose of this activity was not just to highlight the importance of teamwork, but rather to also allow our youth to research and understand the political and socio-economic background of each African country. A background which we stress all Africans to familiarize themselves with.
Furthermore, during these 3-days, the facilitators used simulation activities and role-playing which made the youth reflect on their attitudes and behavior on how they interact with others. The youth participants were highly motivated on how they can go back to their respective communities/countries and disseminate the knowledge they have acquired during the training in their own families, communities, places of worship, universities, youth groups and other appropriate places.
Although the youth were from different backgrounds, they were excited about the levels of interaction, the content of the training and the skills which were gained throughout the weekend.
To conclude the training session, a representative from the SBM, Mr Andre’ Levacks the public participation officer for the municipality explained the responsibilities and role of local government and the opportunity for public participation in social issues and workings of government. Mr. Levacks had also offered the support of the municipality to these prospective Peer Educators in Laingville on the condition that they proactively engaged their community to facilitate Human Rights dialogues, workshops and community-building activities.
The participants were then handed the certificates of completion and the Human rights training manual to complete the session.
The two groups from Cape Town and Saldanha committed to tackling social issues such as teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, xenophobia and Gender-based violence, respectively, by engaging, educating and equipping their communities with the knowledge gained from the training. The two groups also planned and proposed ways to raise funds and which stakeholders to partner with.
Overall, the youth made a clear commitment to go back to their respective communities and to conduct similar information sessions. They also committed that they will use channels available to raise issues rather than resulting in protests in the first place. Young people thanked the SBM and AU for this great opportunity and promise to use it to sensitize other young people to join them.
Here are some comments made by the young leaders :
“Some lessons from this event will stay with me forever: to solve new types of issues, we must think out of the usual norms, thousand people or group of people can have thousand divergent opinions, but they can still find strength in their differences.”– Petro Mbwanya (South Africa via DRC)
“I learnt how to apply human rights in practice and how to formulate a platform on which to educate people about human rights.” Ofentse Maybe (South Africa)
“It was very amazing education and interactive leaving a sense of impact or a mental footprint.” – Nam Malgas (South Africa)