Not so long ago, I was lucky enough to take part in the future strategy meeting of Activista the Gambia. Sounds boring? Not quite! With a group of thirty Activistas from all regions of the Gambia, we set out to decide on a path for the future and what we really want to do.
For weeks before central issues had been in my mind and ideas for lots of activities had been pouring out like rain. However, having to wake up early morning and the first thing I need to do is to think about our aims and objectives for the next three years seemed… challenging!
But from the first second the meeting was very energetic - comments and contribution started flowing from all corners of the room and decisions are made. Within a spark of a light I too was focused and ready to put my inputs. This is how decisions should be made: participatory and by the volunteers who are pulling the load on the ground!
One of the biggest discussions at the meeting was how to involve more youths in Activista. In the Gambia is that a lot of young people don’t take part in the process of changing our country. The political atmosphere in the Gambia is very frustrating and a big part of the youth simply finds it too difficult to deal with. That’s why it’s so important for me to engage other young people to advocate and campaign locally, regionally and globally and show that we can influence policies and political processes that affect our lives.
The goals we set for our national network:
- To develop a sustainable and effective Activista organisation that is able to reach out and strengthen its members and carry out effective campaigns.
- To create a social platform for young people to exchange ideas and capacities members to become mutually inspired, within Activista the Gambia and sister Activista countries, thus creating social change at individual, community and national levels.
It’s ironic: looking at ambitious aims and objectives always makes me think “is it really possible to achieve this within only three years”. Will there be enough funds to implements activities – will there be enough volunteers? But hey - life is full of challenges and one should always be ready to face them. And with that attitude we fleshed out the abstract objectives to a concrete plan of very achievable activites.
Some of the activities that are eye catching and fascinating to me for the coming year:
- School activities – gardens, orchard, poultry farms, and weekly performance by Activistas
- Political campaigns in communities and regional caravans
- Football tournament “kick hunger out” Players will get Activista t-shirts with messages
- Monthly radio programmes
- Journeys to end hunger and the involvement of women farmers.
- Membership contribution weekly and monthly by school networks.
- Partner with Activista International on the Inspirator programme
I’m quite excited about getting started on all this!
An important issue that got the room pretty heated with debate was: Should Activista the Gambia be part of the ActionAid International the Gambia? Traditionally we were an independent network, so it’s a bit of a tender subject. In the end we agreed to be part of ActionAid International in the Gambia and partly be independent in our work. And the most important: young people should take the lead in the operation of the network.
Being part of the first strategic meeting in Activista the Gambia was the best thing that could ever happen to me. It was a heavy duty put upon my shoulder to talk and decide on behalf of many, but doing this with Activista representatives from all regions of the Gambia made it both fun and fruitful!