Monday, September 5, 2011

CFCO Holds Discourse on ‘Change Makers Forum’

The Children for Children Organisation popularly called CFCO, on 20 August, 20111 held its first  ‘Change Makers Forum’ at the American Corner along the busy Kairaba Avenue.
The Forum explores how young people have been making change in three schools, communities, and the country at large, and how they could be ‘change agents’ in facing challenges affecting young people and the communities they live. 
Under the theme “Youth Leadership and Development”, it serves as a platform to discuss issues affecting young people at all levels and find viable solutions and strategies to curb these challenges in partnership with relevant stakeholders.

Two prominent speakers were provided by CFCO in the names of Mr. Momodou Sabally, Director of Budget, Ministry of Finance and Fabakary Kalleh, Chairperson of National Youth Council (NYC), doubling as Executive Secretary, Youth Ambassadors of Peace (YAP). 
Presenting his motivational lecture was Mr. Sabally who told young people that in life they are bound to exercise some function of leadership, pointing out to them that each of them {the youth} is a leader in his or her own sphere. 
And that means everyone has the inherent privilege and responsibility that come with leadership. He englightened them that leadership involves the performance of functions, which includes: defining and communicating visions, goals and objectives; representing followers; directing; influencing, mobilizing, motivating, creating enthusiasm and optimism; providing services and making a difference.
“I am glad to start this talk from this perspective since all great things in life come from within, and then manifest themselves before they can be noticed and comprehended by others. 
“Your leadership of any organization or institution will be effective and beneficial only to the extent that you have been a great leader in your own affairs,” said Sabally.
To be a leader, Sabally told youth that they need to have self-discipline, qualifying that ‘not just any leader’ but an effective leader that would bring improvements in the lot of his or her people; it is essential that you possess certain qualities. 
To achieve any level of personal development, he went on, “one has to develop the quality of self-discipline,” noting that it’s the quintessential key that would prompt anyone to leave his/her bed early in the morning to attend to business.
“If you have self-discipline, it develops your potentials, earn you the goods and services that you will need to live a decent life and to contribute to the development of those that matter in your life.”
According to him, self-discipline could help an individual to say no to the many temptations that would inevitably come on their way.
He continued: “As you go through the journey of growing up to become a responsible person, it is the quality that would help you to concentrate on your work”, adding when one develops self-discipline, it helps the individual to grow up to become a successful person.
But he was quick to say that it would also be an indispensable tool when one eventually assumes leadership of a community or institution. 
 At that point, he encouraged young people to encourage their people to make the necessary sacrifices, and he added that a leader who cultivates self-discipline would save the individual from the curse of greed, hatred, revenge and a thousand other tangible and intangible maladies. 
Sabally also told them that personal initiative is also a fundamental key to leadership, while urging them not to underestimate personal initiatives if they are willing to use self-discipline.
“Do not be crippled by the fear of failure or the lack of resources to implement your ideas. Just have faith, use your imagination and go out there and try. You must build up the courage to act on your own without having to wait for others to prod you,” the Finance Ministry’s Budget Director enjoined them.
Pressing the point home, pertaining to personal initiatives, Sabally pinpointed Muhammed Jah of Qcell and Papa Yusupha Njie of Unique Solutions as fine examples.
He said nobody told these two Gambians to start the companies that they so successfully run now. 
Faith, he also told his audience, is the cornerstone of achievement in any field; stressing to them, “if you want to succeed in anything, you must first believe that you can indeed succeed”.
According to Sabally, faith is essential for effective leadership in any field, and hope also contribute for a leader to success. 
Mr. Fabakary Kalleh in his presentation informed the gathering that the operational definition of the term youth often varies from country to country, depending on the specific socio- cultural, institutional, economic and political factors.
For the United Nations, Kalleh said youth fall in the age bracket of 15-24, Commonwealth 15-29, The Gambia 13-30 and for some countries like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal Guinea Bissau among others, it’s 35 years; and the African Youth Charter sets youth at 35 years.
Youth development, Kalleh said, is a process that prepares a young person to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood and achieve his or her full potential. 
These, he went on, is promoted through activities and experiences that help youth develop social, ethical, emotional, physical, and cognitive competencies. Youth development, he believed, is part of the youth development process and supports the young person in developing.
In history, Kalleh recollected, the issues and problems of youth became a world issue in 1965 when the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the ‘Declaration on the Promotion  among youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between Peoples’. 
In the declaration, he said it stressed the importance of the role of youth in today’s world, especially its potential contribution to development.
True, youths are the ones who hold the key to our development in the 21st century, Kalleh opined, saying at the very foundation of this important role of the youth is the challenge of their participation in the quest towards nation building.
He catalogued the array of growing problems young people in the Gambia are facing,as unemployment, marginalisation, school drop-outs, substance abuses {drugs}, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, inter-generational dispute, inadequate infrastructure, social amenities and police brutality.  
Evidently, some of these problems are more pronounced in some administrative regions than others, and affect the youths in varying degrees and impacts. This, he said, has revealed deep frustrations and disappointment among youth and has lent credence to the observation that youths mainly in the developing world are mostly deprived of opportunities and space to improve their well- being. 
“They are often less involved in national development thereby exposing their vulnerabilities which could be exploited by any agency for its own selfish interests,” Kalleh bemoaned.
But the most striking phenomenon of our time is that of absolute poverty and the growing disparities in and inequalities with the communities, he added.
He went on:“ This increasing gap threatens social cohesion and is strongly related to youth mobility (the struggle to Europe on foot), violence conflict (mercenaries, rebellion) and psycho- social stress,”NYC head pointed out.
He told the occasion that,“today, more than ever before, the International Community is calling for greater Young participation in national development efforts.  
He also noted that governments are being encouraged to develop National Youth Policy that would bear in mind that youth are not only the future, but also the present. That young people are often marginalised and among the most vulnerable to poverty and other hazards,thus making it easy for  them to end up in group which exert negative rather than positive influence.
Youth development, Kalleh pointed out that it seek to promote positive development rather than addressing risks in isolation. 
Thus, Kalleh charged that youth clubs and organizations should be encouraged and supported. Without any fear of contradiction, Kalleh stressed that youth who are constructively involved in learning and who are connected to positive adults and peers are less likely to engage in risky or self-defeating behaviours.
“It’s an agreed fact that providing the conditions for positive youth development is a responsibility shared by families, schools, and communities,’’ the gathering was told.
 However, “the conditions for healthy youth development reside in us as young people,” he pinpointed.
To begin with, he said they should endeavour to realize who they are, their potentiallity and contributory efforts to development, which is undisputable, a prerequisite to the life of any nation. 
“We should organize programmes on youth issues and run them on National TV and radio stations. We can start a magazine watch, or even create comic publication with youth stories.
“This will, at the same time, be used to disseminate the African Youth Charter,” buttressed Kalleh. 
He, therefore, encouraged young people to actively take part in the political affairs of the state, but not as pawns in the hands of other people, rather as conscious and dutiful citizens determined for the country and Africa to forge ahead. 
“Do not look for leadership anywhere, assume it and shape the way, be aware of the enormous strength of your numbers and turn it into your advantage, the advantage of the nation. 
“In your groups demand for accountability, demand for greater equity and justice, demand for fairness in public service delivery, be good examples yourselves, have courage of conviction, educate yourselves to understand how the society and the government functions,” the NYC senior official echoed.
Their programmes and activities, he said should truly aimed at the next generation when “we who conceived them’ will no longer be in power”. 
He advised that policy needs a long term vision and to define the kind of youth which both the young and the adults wish for our nation; for the days when today’s youths would themselves be adults and the Gambia would go about producing “such” youth.  

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