"Youth and mental health", is the theme of this day. It is now an annual celebration of youth as key actors of change, but also an opportunity to draw international attention to the challenges and hardships they face.
In Idjwi, South Kivu province (in Eastern DRC), young people continue to face higher rates of poverty and marginalisation than the average, which contributes to perpetuate poverty. This is the case of Christina, 16 years old. She lost her mother in 2012. She is currently a single mother and her child is about a year old. She and her child live with her father who is a fisherman. She sells fish brought by the father; then the father uses this money to feed the 9 children in the family. Christina does not know the father of her child.
"I remember meeting a young man at a roadside one afternoon. Then, I visited him the next day and got pregnant. Then I never saw him again since conception till today”, she said.
ActionAid DRC which executes in Idjwi its local rights program is interested in Christina in the context of the work it carries on with young people. Through AAIDRC, Christina joined the Group of teenage mothers under the programme for youth. She is currently very active in the craft industry.
«We are happy to work with Actionaid which has established initiatives to enhance our capabilities because as young women we are often marginalized» she shared.
Many of these young people of Idjwi, girls in particular, are facing serious challenges as Christina. They wish to return to school or do some activities that will generate income to take care of their children. To work with them efficiently, Actionaid has regrouped these young people in a platform, called collective of Associations for the development of Idjwi, CAJDI. This platform brings together 7 Youth Associations from 3 villages of the Ntambuka chiefdom, namely Nyakalengwa, Mugote and Mpene. The 7 Associations have 303 members including 149 boys and 154 girls of which 102 teenage mothers grouped in two groups of mothers’ associations. With the intervention of AAI DRC, a strong cohesion is created between young people who meet regularly together to discuss their problems and find appropriate solutions. Under the AAI DRC support, they have acquired a plot granted by the tribe leader, which is currently under preparation in the perspective of building of a socio-professional youth centre. In addition, AAI DRC has provided some vegetable seeds to these 7 associations who are now in their flower beds while they wait for the distribution of seedlings. Prior to that, those young people have been trained on the Youth leadership for the development of society. The AAIDRC’s goal is to promote those associations to help young people develop a strong and constructive "voice", and thereby increase their chances of access to financial tools, land and other productive resources. "Before, we as young people of Idjwi, were dispersed, each association doing an action of its choice without taking account of others.
"Really with AAI DRC, we meet together in a collective that now allows us to discuss together, to know each other and to do social activities together. Really, we thank AAI DRC very much for helping us work together and guiding us in the development and governance of the youth"; said BARAKA MULUME THIGE, President of collective.
On a larger scale, AAIDRC fights in synergy with other partners to develop and implement policies and programmes for the youth at all levels.