By Olimatou Coker
The SOS Children Village recently held a day-long national youth forum at its offices in Bakoteh.
Organised under the theme, “youth engage change”, the forum was meant to strengthen youth participation and create a space for them to showcase their talents, with a specific focus on challenges faced by young people such as mental health, sexual reproduction, substance misuse, and career guidance.
The SOS national director, Jean Pierre Kouamin, said youth empowerment is a key pillar of SOS Children’s Villages key mandate.
He said youth participation is a key thematic area in their interventions.
“We want them to be able to test their ideas, in entrepreneurship and employment, and be able to voice their thoughts. We also want to see them discuss their dreams and the challenges they face,” he said.
Tijan Betts, a national youth coordinator, said the objective of the event is to strengthen participation by creating a space for young people to showcase their knowledge and voice out their challenges.
“We want to hear the voice of the most vulnerable young people in our society, what their challenges are, and what is the way forward?”
“The partnership with the youth of SOS is meant to support them to be recognised in society and to become responsible people and responsible leaders in the future,” he said.
Kalilou Touray, president of the SOS youth network, said change should not just serve as a mere concept.
“For us to achieve the needed change, the barriers must be broken for any meaningful progress to take place,” he said.
He said young people usually have a unique perspective on change, but actualising that perspective has been a challenge.
“We believe in the ability to create a better world. We are dreamers, innovators, and catalysts for transformation. But let us not forget that change does not happen in isolation. It is through collective efforts, cooperation, and unity, and through platforms like this where we share ideas and forge partnerships, that will enable us to drive meaningful change,” he said.
He said the forum is meant to promote the participation of young people through advocacy.