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Participants pose for a group photo during the youth summit in Hurdal
Since the last quarter of 2015, I have been coordinating the Communication for Change (CFC) youth exchange programme, hosting Norwegian youths and sending Kenyan counterparts abroad. The programme is funded by Fredskorpset Norway popularly known as FK Norway through the Norwegian Church Aid-Norway.
FK is a department under the Norwegian Ministry of foreign affairs that facilitates organizations from 25 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to implement volunteer and professional exchange programmes with Norway. FK facilitates a total of 22 different exchange programmes including Communication for Change programme that NCCK implements through the Norwegian Church Aid-Norway.
This year I represented NCCK at the 3rd FK Youth Summit held in Hurdal, Norway. The summit is geared towards providing a platform for sharing, interacting, networking and learning among representatives of the implementing organizations. One hundred and five representatives from organizations across the 25 FK priority countries implementing different exchange programmes participated.
The event was officially opened by FK Director General. In her welcoming remarks, Nita Kapoor urged participants to utilize the platform to share and strengthen the partnerships. A number of presentations were there after made including FK’s focus areas from 2018 and the achievements recorded between 2015 and 2017, intercultural communication among other important topics.
We had a side meeting with partners within Kenya and shared notes regarding the exchange programme and also agreed to hold regular meetings in Nairobi to continue sharing, learning and exploring areas of collaborative engagement to enrich the programme. The Kenyan partners include FOCUS Kenya, iServe Africa, Sarakasi Trust, Slum Dwellers International Kenya, Youth Alive Kenya, Mathare Youth Sports Association-MYSA and Kenya Girl Guides Association
On the 9th day of March, we braced below zero temperatures and a snowy terrain and travelled to Oslo, Vulcan Arena to join a host of other young leaders from across the world for the 2017 Young Leadership Conference whose theme was “Breaking Barriers #YL17”. The conference was one of the most well organized conferences I have ever come across.
A representative of the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs delivered the key note address together with the FK Director General, Nita Kapoor. Young leaders from diverse cultural settings including refugees from Syria that have since been integrated into the Norwegian culture shared their experiences on how they overcome barriers to cause positive change in their respective societal settings.
Some of them demonstrated how they have used art and particularly music to do advocacy and activism. A Norwegian young musician performed different pieces of songs and compositions from different countries that have been censored or forbidden by governments simply because the lyrics admonish those governments for engaging or promoting practises or policies that are unfair to the entire society or a certain section of it.
After the conference in the freezing cold Oslo, we managed to beat the crosswinds and soared above the winter skies of Oslo, rode in a bus to the ferry terminal, cruised in a ferry and finally drove on a van before we arriving at Sunnmore Folkehogskule (folk high school-SUFH-these kind of schools in Norway offer non-academic subjects to students) in Ulsteinvik, a snow capped mountainous municipality in the West Coast of Norway which is also the home to the CFC participants, in readiness for the for the CFC Coordinators meeting from 9th to 13th March 2017.
The CFC partner organizations include NCCK-Kenya, Diaconia-Brazil, and 4CCP-Tanzania, YWCA-Ilula, Tanzania, YWCA-Madagascar, YWCA-South Africa and YWCA-Bangladesh. The meeting in SUFH facilitated the coordinators to share the preliminary work plans for the 2017/18 participants, critic and helping each other strengthen the plans for better results. We interacted with the participants and the teachers as well including the School’s Principal.
We also participated in various activities with the participants including the International Day where participants from each country showcase their nations’ culture from food to music. It’s also an opportunity for them to market their nations particularly to the full year students who are largely Norwegians.
NCCK has been implementing the Communication for Change programme for the last 8 years with about 14 Kenyan and 14 Norwegian participants having benefited from the exchange. Three participants from the 2016/17 lot, Joshua, Tecla and Stephen are now in their 2nd month in Norway and part of the 25 students in the international class at SUFH School.
They have so far been actively involved in various advocacy campaigns with various actors and stakeholders across Norway. One of the major campaigns they have carried out and concluded is the ethical trade campaign that involves pushing the government to put in place policies prohibiting unethical trade practises such as child labour ,poor working conditions for workers among others and basically to increase the availability of fair trade products.
The participants are now embarking on the NCA’s annual Lenten campaign .The main goal of the exchange is to facilitate building of a global movement of young leaders in promoting gender justice, economic justice and climate change.