Victor Mensah and Duncan Van Niekerk
11 November 2011
The Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) is an intergovernmental development agency that works to empower young people or youths realize that youth issues in development are more relevant to the Commonwealth than to many others and are more urgent than ever. Thus, CYP RCA supported Duncan Vanniekerk, a Youth Leader to the Volunteer and Service Enquiry Southern Africa (VOSESA) conference on Volunteering on the 17th -19th October 2011 in Johannesburg. This is in line with the Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) which places much emphasis on volunteerism.
Volunteer and Service Enquiry Southern Africa (VOSESA) was created in 2003 in response to the clear need for well-researched and up-to-date information on volunteering and civic service in southern Africa. VOSESA is a non-making profit organisation in southern Africa committed to strengthening and developing the voluntary sector in the region through research, publishing and evidence-based advocacy.
The conference was the first of its kind for the region and was convened to raise the profile of volunteer action as a tool for promoting people's participation in SADC regional integration and development. Among other things, the out come of the conference included:
Duncan Van Niekerk, a Youth Leader who attended the conference shared his experience and had this to say,” A big thanks to the Commonwealth Youth Program making it possible for me attend such a conference. It fast tracked my development as a youth and inspired me to inspire more people”. I was fortunate enough to be able to grab this opportunity to represent the Commonwealth Youth Program. I received an email on Sunday 6:45pm from Victor Mensah, from the Commonwealth Secretariat, carrying a simple message ‘Duncan – register’. Victor later explained the opportunities that come out of such conferences and I was more than willing to be part of that powerful and influential program – “what an honour”.
I met Victor a month before in Kenya, while representing the President's Award for Youth Empowerment South Africa at the International Gold Event (IGE) organised by the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Association (IAA). Victor is also an award holder and trainer of the program and his involvement in the Commonwealth Secretariat is aligned with the International Award program. Victor explained that the Commonwealth Youth Programme made a commitment to provide such opportunities for further development of IGE Alumni.
The most memorable thing I took from the conference was the fact that, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the most innovative minds deliberating on volunteerism and using it as a tool for development in the Southern African Region was an eye opener. Being exposed to community volunteerism work, through the President's Award for Youth Empowerment and various other projects, I was privileged to be exposed to this from at a young age, and gained the perspective of a volunteer or have had my eyes opened. Something a lot of people and my peers have not had the opportunity to be exposed to.
Among the topics covered were;
A huge thank to the Commonwealth Youth Program for giving me this opportunity, I have developed so much, and now have a drive to learn even more and deliver the message and do what I can in my means to drive this passion into action.