In 2006, my wife Liz and I spent six weeks in East Africa setting up contacts for our work with Global Youth Network. The first weeks of our trip were spent in Kenya. Our plan was to visit an orphanage that some of the students of Global had helped set up in Nakuru, then to travel further east to Ungunja to visit a contact we had heard about from the Working Centre in Kitchener, Ontario. The orphanage in Nakuru was in a small village in the White mountains which is a tea growing region in Kenya.
On one of the days, Liz and I went down to the town of Nakuru to look around. In the centre of town was a little open market with a mix of different hardware and tourist crafts. As we were looking through the market, two young men called us over to their stall and asked us if we were from Canada. When we replied “yes”, they asked if we worked for Global Youth Network and if we were volunteering at the orphanage. Again, we replied “yes”. They told us that they would meet us at the orphanage after they finished work to talk to us about something.
That evening the two young men met us at the orphanage and told us how the Canadian University students that Global has been sending over the past few years had challenged them. They told us that they had never heard of volunteering until they met these teams and now they spend one evening a week helping out at the orphanage. This got me thinking about how we, as Global Youth Network, could encourage volunteerism not just in Canada, but also in the countries that we work in.
Around the same time as I was in Kenya, Solom, the director of Youth With A Mission Manaus, Brazil was moving to Canada with his new wife to work with Global. Global started working in Manaus in 1999. Solom and I had already started talking about how to develop Global in Brazil. We had the idea that the education our Canadian students received on our trips would be beneficial to anyone from any country. We thought that there must be a way to provide this opportunity for young people in poorer countries, for them to have a similar experience as the privileged Canadian students. Anyone who has traveled with Global knows that an experience like this can be life changing.
In 2008, Liz and I packed up our stuff and moved to BC after 20 years of living in Kitchener, Ontario. Both of us had always wanted to live on the West coast and this seemed to be the time to give it a try. Our main motivation for the move was related to some of the above ideas. I wanted to give the same opportunity we were providing for University students to Canada’s First Peoples. I had been exploring this idea for a number of years and the West coast seemed to be the most promising area to begin this program. Some years before our move I had read a statement in a book on decolonization that said that the opportunity for Indigenous peoples to travel and meet other Indigenous peoples and understand their struggles and victories was a part of the decolonization process. It is with this idea that Global is now undertaking the development of a project for Aboriginal youth and young adults to connect with Indigenous peoples in other countries.
Today, a drab January day in 2011, Liz and I are back in Ontario for a few months looking after a family member. I am excited about this year and the future of Global Youth Network. It seems the three stories above have merged together to start this new year. In December, Gilad, Dawna and myself met with Aggrey, the director of Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC), in Ugunja, Kenya to talk about starting Global in East Africa. In 2009, Solom moved back to Brazil as Global’s South American director with a vision of establishing Global Youth Network in Brazil and other locations in South America. This year in BC, we are hoping to take a group of Aboriginal youth on a March Break trip to Modesto California, as well as a young adult group to Sao Gabriel Brazil this summer. 2011 is the year that Global Youth Network is truly becoming GLOBAL!
Here is a list of what we are working on internationally:
• Aggrey and Dave go to Brazil to create an international partnership
• 2 Kenyan’ from UCRC in Canada from April to Sept. learning about Global
• Peace Ambassador teams - a team of East African young people traveling to their
different countries learning about peace and conflict resolution.
• Indigenous Exchange- Non Indigenous East Africans living with Indigenous peoples in
their own regions learning about their way of life traditions and struggles.
Brazil • Developing Global’s University program in the 5 Universities in Manaus, Brazil. The
teams from these universities would travel to Columbia or Guyana.
• Street Kid soccer club, running soccer camps, and creating soccer leagues for street
kids in Sao Paulo Brazil
• High School March Break trip to Modesto, California
• Summer Young Adults Amazon trip
• Summer Leadership Training Camp
• Modesto/Tsartlip youth exchange
• Indigenous exchange - Canada/Brazil/Kenya creating places for Indigenous peoples from
these countries to connect, and partner together to create change in their own
Although I am telling this story from my perspective, there are probably 100’s of perspectives through which this story could be told. Teams of University students, staff, volunteers and all our relationships with our countries have built upon each one of these stories. My job is to help bring the stories together, but there have been too many people in this story to make mention of them all. So, I don’t own this story but our Global community owns it. I would like to give some examples of how the Global Youth Network community can stay involved with these new initiatives.
The first is the simplest, we will need to raise about $25,000 this year to get everything going. We have made a commitment to start up cost with all these projects and will evaluate our financial commitment year by year as we hope to find ways to be sustainable. So we are looking for any amount of donation towards this $25,000.
The next and related action is volunteers to put on fund raising events. If you are interested in this area we are looking for some creative ideas. We are also looking for those people who can help tell this story through Facebook, blogs, and other communication styles.
We will also need volunteers that can jump in to help lead teams, do some justice and travel education, maybe spend some time on location helping to pass on Global values and philosophy.
If you are interested in contributing to the financial challenges of this program you can donate on line through CanadaHelps on our webpage http://www.myglobalyouthnetwork.org or you can send cheques for any amount to:
Global Youth Network
P.O. Box 92515
152 Carlton St.
Toronto On, M5A 2K1
***If you are donating online or mail, please make mention that it is for Global’s international projects***
If you are interested in volunteering in any way with these new initiatives please email me, Dave Skene, at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at (778) 238-7026. Sorry, its a BC number. Also if you have any questions, or just want to talk about all of this, give me a call or send an email.