Young Voices: walking the extra mile

This article was put together by Young Voices campaigners during the 2013 Young Voices Global meeting in Kenya.

Have you noticed people just like you but different in some way living with you in your communities? Most of you know them as people with disabilities. So what’s special about them, you might ask. And I tell you they are special because they have an equality to earn. They should walk the extra mile to win their rights, and they should talk more about themselves to earn their living.

That’s why they have organised themselves globally as Young Voices for a collective effort to earn what they deserve to live in our own communities equally. So let’s look at some great achievements in three countries around the world.

Let’s begin with Nyamizi from Tanzania, a vibrant youngster who wants to be heard. She has just graduated from the University of Mzumbe, Morogoro. According to her, the biggest change her group experienced was the boost of confidence and the empowering
awareness of the rights of the people with disabilities as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This has enabled them to meet employers like NCSS in her country and invoke awareness in them regarding the employability of the young persons with disabilities. She and her friends think that meeting the stakeholders that are responsible for making their lives better in various ways personally and convincing them about the possibilities of including persons with disabilities in their daily life is the best way to campaign in her country.

The way forward for Tanzanian youngsters with disabilities, she says, is an attempt to continue their activities with the help of people in their community who can contribute towards sustaining the social incorporation of young people.

Precious from Zambia has a different story to tell. She considers advocacy to be the central element of their success in the signing, ratifying and implementation of the legal framework for people with disabilities in her country. They have TV and radio programs in their local stations to educate the public about their rights and achievements as well. In this way she and her friends have eradicated discrimination in her community quite effectively.

Ashura from Kenya has her own achievements to share with us. As an individual she has won the Miss Deaf Kenya in her modeling career. This was in fact an opportunity that was opened to her through the advocacy campaigns of Young Voices Kenya. Consequently she is now confident to stand stronger in emphasizing the rights of persons with disabilities in her country. She believes that the most effective factor in campaigning is showing the power of persons of disabilities through example. However, Kenyan young people with disabilities are going to sustain their efforts of retaining their rights through continual advocacy campaigns and country-wide awareness.

The stories of these three individuals could indeed be an inspiration as well as an enlightening experience for all of us who dare to fight for our rights.

Editors: Jani, Sri Lanka; Leroy, Guyana; Yaseen, Mauritius; Precious, Zambia.

Posted in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia

Spreading the word

Young Voices campaigner Tongai giving a presentation - a couple of audience members are also in the photoYoung Voices campaigners Tongai from Zimbabwe (pictured) and Markson from Zambia gave presentations about Young Voices and the CRPD at disability inclusion training workshops hosted by Plan Zimbabwe and Plan Zambia, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

Sue Coe, a disability and development expert who facilitated the workshops said: “The sessions led by Tongai and Markson added an extra, valuable dimension. Their clear focus and knowledge on CRPD definitely helped the participants.”

Young Voices make themselves heard in Brussels

Young Voices campaigners at the European Development Days event - Young Voices campaigners and other delegates are seated behind a table, while one person speaks - some audience members are visible. The EU development days banner - - is behind the speakers. Young Voices campaigners spoke to a packed room of delegates at the European Development Days in Brussels on 26th November. The Young Voices, from the Philippines, Zambia and Kenya, were hosting a side event on ‘The Power of Young Voices – an innovative approach to inclusive civic engagement focusing on young people with disabilities’. The European Development Days is an annual event that brings together thousands of development stakeholders, practitioners and advocates in informal sessions to exchange best practice, network, and come up with creative solutions to key issues.

The Young Voices campaigners shared the challenges they have experienced as young people with disabilities, and the campaigns they have participated in to bring about change for disabled people in their countries. Delegates debated how development actors could engage better with young people.

Meeting delegates - including Young Voices campaigners - sitting round the tableTwo days later, the campaigners took part in a roundtable at the European Parliament, hosted by Richard Howitt MEP. Together with representatives from EU institutions and civil society they discussed how to harness the power of young voices to promote human rights and include disability in the post-2015 development framework.

View highlights, photos and quotes from the sessions on our Tumblr site.

Markson from Zambia: Looking back on Malala Day

Markson talks to Sam from the Send My Friend to School Campaign

Along with five other Young Voices campaigners from around the world, Markson was at the UN in New York in July to celebrate the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai and call on world leaders to take action to make sure all children can go to school. Here’s what he remembers most from the experience:

Malala Day was eye-opening for me. After hearing Malala speak about what she is trying achieve it made me see that in life we need to work extra hard if we are to see the change we want. After all the pain she had undergone Malala was able to show us not only the importance of education for all but also the power to forgive.

I was grateful for the chance to meet Young Voices members from other countries and learn about what they have achieved. This showed me that there is much is still to be done if we are to make the changes and achieve a better world for all.

I also enjoyed meeting members of other organisations like Sam and Abigail from the Send My Friend To School campaign. We exchanged experiences and discussed ways in which we can work together at both national and international levels in the future.

As Malala said, thought the bullet was going to shut her up, they never expected that it release so many voices. We still need to keep fighting to make #EducationForAll and #LeaveNoOneBehind. It is the dream of every Young Voices member and the world at large.

Posted in Zambia and tagged , ,

Campaigning for access to clean water and sanitation facilities

Young Voices members in Zambia have collaborated with WaterAid on a campaign on access to water and sanitation facilities. They held a joint workshop with WaterAid and journalists on water and sanitation for people with disabilities. The workshop aimed to encourage the media to report about the challenges people with disabilities face in accessing clean water and sanitation facilities.

Talented Zambia Young Voices members to produce their own music

Sting, Adele, Young Voices… What these musicians have in common is that they have worked with top UK music producer Robin Millar and his team. During the first week of December Robin led an intensive week-long studio training seminar in Zambia for musically talented Young Voices members from Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Zambia. Using professional equipment, they learned how to produce their own songs, which will be released globally via Itunes and Amazon.

The music training project was launched in response to Young Voices members’ own desire to express themselves and their campaigning messages through music. Many Young Voices groups have already recorded songs and music videos, and we plan to roll out the music project across Africa and Asia starting in 2012.

At the same time, other Young Voices members from across Africa honed their campaigning skills at the Africa regional workshop. Speaking of his experience, Sierra Leone Young Voices member John Conteh said, ‘since joining Young Voices, I have had hope and freedom after total neglect. Young Voices has sent me to a studio, which I had never expected to visit… I long to share the experience I will gain from the workshop with the Sierra Leone group when I return. I hope to become an international superstar for Sierra Leone Young Voices.’

Posted in Young Voices News, Zambia and tagged

Radio broadcasts around the world for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Young Voices groups in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka spoke on the radio and ran marches to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In Bangalore, India, Young Voices spoke on a radio show and held a media event in partnership with a local bank to celebrate their recent successful campaign to make bank machines accessible.

Young Voices lobby for HIV/AIDS support

Members of the Young Voices group running through the Cheshire Homes Society of Zambia have lobbied the government to include people with disabilities in all efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Working together with Leonard Cheshire Disability, they have contributed to 13 awareness raising campaigns through which over 1,300 young people with disabilities learned about HIV/AIDS prevention. The project also supports orphans and children with disabilities to attend school and adults with disabilities to access health and social care.