Eastern Africa youths gather for peace
Inspired to change the fortunes of African youth in the Eastern Africa region, Initiatives of Change (IofC) Uganda together with the EAYC planning team will host the 2nd Eastern Africa Youth Conference to be held in Kampala, Uganda. The forum opens on Wednesday 8 February and runs through to 12 February 2012 at the Pope Paul VI Memorial Hotel under the theme, 'Youths for Peace; Together Making it Happen.' Eastern Africa Youth Conference (EAYC) is a youth forum targeting young people from the Eastern Africa Bloc (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, South and North Sudan). It is designed to guide young people towards ethical living and mature leadership and challenge them into transformative acts of service.
Last year during the 1st Eastern Africa Youth Conference held in Kenya, participants present sought to identify common challenges faced within the Eastern Africa bloc. They identified unemployment, violence, moral decadence, illiteracy, youth marginalization, poverty and poor education system as serious concerns that need intervention for the sake of current and future generations.
One of the key challenges identified, and one that we hope to share on during this year’s forum, is the constant conflict and violence fueled by a lot of ethnicity, seasoned by bad politics and simmered by poor governance. Many lives have been lost, wanton destruction of property experienced and thousands of people displaced from their homes due to violence. Women’s dignity has been dishonored when they are raped and children orphaned due to war. One of the most disheartening facts about the sustained hostilities is that the youth of Africa are becoming more and more drawn into the conflict. Around the world, newspapers and the broadcast media report daily on violence by gangs in schools or by young people on the streets. Although media images of Africa may portray it as an irredeemable conflict zone, there are many efforts being made, including by young people, to build peace. This forum is just but one of them!
We hope that interactions throughout this conference will challenge the participants’ attitude, inspire their hearts, spark new ideas of hope and give them the courage to translate these ideas into positive actions for the peaceful Africa we want to see, for us and future generations; starting with ourselves, our countries and the region at large.
As the organizers, we hope to create a platform for honest dialogue and constructive debate where we can learn from each other. We hope to capture the energy, the talent and the resolve of an emerging generation of leaders in Africa. Because as young visionaries, we recognize that when good people live righteously and act courageously, then the course of history can be set on the right path. The path of peace. As peace ambassadors within the Eastern Africa bloc, it’s truly time for us to wake up and make peace happen!