With this year’s World Youth Forum (WYF) theme of “Back Together”, it seemed sensible to devote a space to the Forum’s previous attendees, speakers, and participants in order to express their experiences, feelings, and thoughts regarding the WYF and today’s world.
Abdul Majeed Allan Chikukula – Malawian
President of the General Union of African Students in Egypt (GUASE)
My turning point was being selected to represent my country in the Model African Union in May 2018, organized by the National Training Academy under the Presidential Leadership Program (PLP) initiative. Later, I attended the WYF, with the same initiative but on a broader spectrum, as we interacted with influential youths on a global scale.
In 2019, I had the honor of being the Coordinator for the African League of Young Masters (ALYM) 2019-2020, a platform where youths are trained to empower and express themselves in an infused Pan-African environment. Currently, I’m involved with different entities and initiatives striving towards the same goal of African youth development. The PLP is a unique initiative and if its concept is adopted by African countries, we can realize a firm foundation to mold our youths into resilient and patriotic leaders.
Maysaa Mahjoub – Sudanese
Founder and President of Volunteer Hub Organization (VHO)
The WYF 2018, when I represented my country (Sudan) in the African Union simulation model, was the time that I realized that my footsteps became more consistent towards my dreams.
And with each new step, new metaphors were added to my name, such as:
– Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Award for Excellence and Community Intelligence in the UAE.
– Ambassador of the Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Award for Excellence and Community Intelligence in the UAE.
– The winner of the Arab Youth Award in the Voluntary Work Field.
– Influential among 30 Arab and African influencers.
– Former Executive Director of the Foundation for Voluntary Work Ambassadors.
But the euphemisms “volunteer” or “community activist” will always be the closest to my heart.
Jockas Matte – Ugandan
Director at Wilmat Development Foundation, Uganda
With the shocks of natural calamities and Covid-19 pandemic coupled with the unprecedented coronavirus variants that are discovered from time to time by scientists, many African youth have been at the forefront of innovation and have invented new technological advancements and social ventures that have been helpful in amplifying livelihoods in their respective communities. The WYF presents a platform that every young person should embrace as an opportunity to connect, learn, unlearn, network, and appreciate the brilliant ideas and innovations presented by fellow youth and seniors in the development and innovation sectors across the globe. Karibu #WYF2019Fellows
Abderrahmane Sidi El Moctar – Mauritanian
African Youth Council Sec-Gen, Mauritania
You are already too late!
People keep asking me about the objectives beyond these efforts, the benefits of that work, but more significantly, the importance of volunteering during this period of life already set up to get your degree to find a job later on. Let’s agree that the main objective of being in school is to be as qualified as you can, so as to get ready to serve your community in the upcoming years. So, it is better to help your society from whatever position. Moreover, we will never forget the parallel role that volunteers can play in raising awareness and changing attitudes toward many values and moralities as a part of civil society.
The official role to help better achieve all those objectives is to empower those young leaders by cooperating with them and by supporting their efforts with academic and extra-academic rewards. And here, I want to mention that Egypt, with its very enriching environment that let many diverse initiatives show up and grow coupled with organizing mega-events at the national, regional, and international levels, such as the World Youth Forum, is for me one of the most inspiring experiences for youth. I just want to say, concluding this word, that if you are waiting to graduate, to start influencing or having an impact on your society and developing your extracurricular skills, you are already too late!
Dawit Getachew Assefa – Ethiopian
Lecturer of Clinical Trial at Dilla University
Peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there’s no fighting or wars, everything coexisting in a perfect harmony and freedom. However, currently, the integrity of peace has been altered and millions of people throughout the world have been suffering from conflict and violence. For many years, the young generation has been seen as an agent of conflict and destruction rather than as a product for their communities or peace builders. Young people face a distinct risk in situations of conflict because they are recruited as soldiers, exploited sexually, and, in most cases, manipulated by political aspirants who benefit from these conflicts. So, there is an urgent need to call for peace for the sake of youth from all African countries. As a young generation who is responsible for the future of our planet and a key agent for peace building, it is crucial to build a culture of peace and a conflict-free environment.
Co-Founder of Wateroam – Singaporean
While some of us are struggling with the mundaneness of lockdowns, many others are faced with the existential threat of contracting Covid-19 in densely packed quarters where mitigation measures, such as social distancing, are difficult or impossible. As the crisis drags on, people in poorer parts of Africa, South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands are on the brink of a hunger pandemic of biblical proportions. Communities with poor utilities and crippled infrastructure also struggle to obtain clean water for hand washing purposes, making the curb of the contagious disease even harder.
Covid-19 has taught me that we have to face this crisis not as Asians, Africans, Arabs, Europeans, or Americans but as an entire civilization in order to solve the problem. My experience in the WYF Inspire.d has taught me that international cooperation is so important in times of crisis like this. This would mean looking out for the populations that are struggling with basic necessities, such as water and infrastructure, and making sure that the less-privileged populations get the medical resources they need.
Dan Ngo – American
Owner of Mango Bums Wellness Center in Dahab
My friend JJ from South Africa was speaking Chinese to a Singaporean and Vietnamese (Hi Chong and Binh!), explaining he was studying his PhD in Beijing. And that’s when it hit me! The brilliant connection of people was being powered by the WYF. The WYF event itself was really impressive, and as a speaker, I felt like I was in Hollywood, at the Grammy’s no joke! I was definitely underdressed by a mile.
My sister told me people don’t remember what you say, but they remember how you made them feel. And reflecting on this two years later, I felt great in those moments and truly Inspire.d! Well, I’m still in Egypt, and now I’m married to an Egyptian. So, I guess you can say I love where I am now. Being in Dahab during the pandemic has helped me understand that now more than ever we need compassion when walls and masks are threatening to divide us further.
The times are difficult and we should be there for one another. Let us not act from fear, but from love. At the next WYF, when you encounter someone you don’t know, shake their hand and introduce yourself!
Mohamed Hatab – Egyptian
Founder of Hand in Hand
I attended the WYF in two capacities, one as a founder of a startup (Hand in Hand; a social startup) at the WYF Labs and one as a speaker at Inspire.d. Both were unique in their own way. The WYF Labs allowed me to showcase Hand in Hand and what it does to help people in need by talking to the public and exhibiting the prosthetic devices we produce specifically for each individual patient. Inspire.d was most certainly one of the events that have had the biggest influence on my life.
The main reason I say so is because it allowed me to share my story and to tell the world what I went through and how I came to be the person I am today. One thing that made it extra special was the fact that it was the first time I ever publicly shared my story and talked about it openly in front of a large audience. The response I received from the audience is something I will never forget and was another reason the Inspire.d stage will always be dear to my heart.