Tostan Gambia ends youth caravan, forum in CRR

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By Oumie Mendy

Tostan-Gambia has concluded a 6-day Youth Caravan and consultative forum in 5 partner communities at Wassu attended by over 300 youth, program facilitators, local and regional leaders.

The annual event aim’s to foster learning and sharing best practices, skills and new knowledge learnt by youth participants in class and for them to demonstrate these skills and how they are utilizing it with their fellow participants from all other participating villages and those visited during the caravan.

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The event culminates various approaches and media such as drama skits/theatre, testimonies and presentation of human rights and responsibilities around the role of youth in peace building, mediation and maintenance, causes and effects of irregular migration, causes and effects of drugs abuse presentation of international human right conventions and other basic human rights instruments by participants specifically relating to youth.

After each meeting in the communities visited, the coordination staff, supervisors and the community elders and youth engage in a discussion to know the pressing issues affecting the community based on their Community Vision that they developed and how to work together to solve some of them. A cultural night was also organized in each of the villages visited to show their cultural performances to reinforce positive African Cultures.

Also, during the event, district leaders were invited along with other development partners working in the area (chiefs, women councilors, ward councilors, multidisciplinary facilitation teams from various government and NGOs at district levels).

Whilst in the communities, youth participants presented and demonstrated on Human Rights and responsibilities to education and skills training, child survival, development and protection, violence against children, causes and effects of youth and irregular migration, good governance, health, environment, employment, effects amongst others.

In his remarks, the National Coordinator of Tostan Gambia, Edrisa keita said the 2022 event marks the 16th annual Youth Caravan organised with youth and the 2nd edition in CRR. Keita said Tostan, as an NGO, its role is to complement the development efforts of government through community empowerment education, capacity building and decentralisation which aimed at bridging knowledge and skills gaps around fundamental issues that affects citizens, through which development and advancement will be owned by people.

“Tostan strongly beliefs that, this is the way forward as enshrined in Strategic Objective 1 of our NDP and SDG objectives.  He thanks the regional leaders for the support and urge continuous partnership as Tostan is currently working and finalizing its Strategic Engagement plan 2023-2023 that seeks to scale its programme in CRR and beyond,” he said.

For his part, the Governor of CRR, Honorable Ousman Bah hailed Tostan and the youth for a successful conduct of the Caravan. He emphasised on the importance of education and skills acquisition as the bedrock of any meaningful development. He advised the youth to engage in skills training for self-sustenance. The governor informed the gathering that, the government is “fully committed to the empowerment of youth and that the government laid a foundation stone for a training center at Wassu that will cater for many types of skills for the youth”.

Governor Bah urged the youth to be law abiding and take responsible roles in their communities for the betterment of the country and that, his office is always open to everyone. All other speakers thanked Tostan and the Youth for this initiative and advised them to be law abiding, serve as peace ambassadors at all levels.