Youth development and exchange in Europe and Africa


February 5th, 2016


In 2013, the Chamwino Arts Center was approached with a proposal to participate in a project called Art for Social Change. Proposed by the Open Space Foundation in Sofia, Bulgaria this project cultivates young people in Uganda, Italy, Bulgaria and Tanzania through non-formal educational experiences and contributes to their personal development through involvement in activities benefiting their local communities.

This project is in four stages; a youth worker’s seminar, the European Volunteer Service, a youth exchange, and job-shadowing. The first stage brought together four youth workers from each partner country to lay the groundwork for the rest of the project, in May 2015. For the second stage, two youth from Uganda and two from Tanzania have traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria to work with the Open Space Foundation for 10 months, as part of the European Volunteer Service. Lott Ulanga and Agatha Maloda were chosen from Chamwino to go for this stage of the project. Currently in the 7th month, these two are expected back in Chamwino in May 2016.

The third stage of this project will gather 8 youth and two adults from each of the partner countries in March in Bulgaria for ten days of sharing their culture and the creative expressions of their culture as well as thinking and planning for their future and the future of their community. CAC has chosen 8 youth from Msanga, the next village over to participate in this stage. All of these children are enrolled in school, and actively participate in one of two muheme groups, Nyota Njema and Ndagwa. From the Tanzanian perspective, this experience will broaden the minds and experiences of children from the rural heart of Tanzania, who, until now have only known the their village. We are hoping that this will encourage them to actively build their futures as well as the futures of their families and communities.

The fourth and final stage of this project is job-shadowing among the partner organizations. One youth worker from each organization will travel to another organization for two weeks to learn how they operate. Learning how another youth oriented organization runs broadens the minds of youth workers and gives inspiration for what can be done. In March 2016 the Chamwino Arts Center will welcome a worker from Italy, and in April 2016 Stephanie Biggs, our cultural exchange project coordinator, will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria to shadow the Open Space Foundation.

All good projects have an evaluation built into them. The evaluation stage of this project will take place in Chamwino, hosted by CAC on 4th-8th July 2016 and include 2 youth workers from each participating organization.

By the end of this project we are hoping that all youth workers who participated will have a greater sensitivity to issues surrounding youth development in different places as well as skills to support the development of upcoming youth leaders and encourage youth to participate through innovative practices and new projects. Additionally, all partner organizations will be able to more skillfully identify needs and resources among varied groups of young people as well as challenge their creativity towards youth entrepreneurship.

Finally, we hope that this project will act as a foundation for building future projects among the parter organizations, each with the end goal being developing youth and youth workers. This kind of people development is essentially community development through non-formal education and the arts. In this way, while preserving cultural diversity, this project will positively impact deprived areas of Europe and Africa by growing competencies in youth, and therefore communities in these places, sustainably and inclusively in order to fight poverty and cultural isolation.

This project is supported by the European Union through Erasums+ Sport, Youth and EU Volunteers.
Partner organizations:
Open Space Foundation, Sofia, Bulgaria
Chamwino Arts Center, Chamwino Ikulu, Tanzania
Mine Vaganti European Youth Group, Italy
Art for Social Change, Kampala, Uganda

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