Thanks for your questions. In terms of how we engage urban youth, Y Care International are lucky that we work primarily through YMCAs, and of course the YMCA movement is the one of the oldest and largest movements for youth in the world. The YMCA has a history of youth volunteerism and we never seem to struggle to recruit young volunteers in our activities even in the most disadvantaged areas as young people see the value of being involved in activities that will improve theirs and their communities’ lives.
The YMCAs are based on a culture of volunteering and so don’t offer volunteers salaries as we believe that those who are motivated and empowered to improve their own lives are much more likely to continue these activities even after the end of a project or funding. Low stipends are often offered to young volunteers to cover costs such as transport to meetings or community outreach activities. Often though, training in new skills, certificates following completion of training, meeting refreshments and a place to meet are enough incentive to get young people involved.
We reach them through community outreach volunteer recruitment drives, e.g. putting up posters in community centres, meeting with community leaders and other stakeholders and encouraging them to share the word, asking existing youth volunteers to reach out to their peers in their communities, sharing via social media sites such as Facebook etc. Many of the local YMCA branches are based in the communities they work in so already know community members well and have a good reputation as existing or previous volunteers will have shared their stories of involvement in volunteering.
Keeping young volunteers engaged is a matter of ensuring the activities continue to be relevant and interesting for them, and giving them to power to arrange how they will implement them and when. Giving leadership to young people allows them to identify activities that interest them and that they think will be most effective. It also gives them leadership and other social skills which are vital for other areas of their life. They have the power then to fit their DRR activities into a schedule that fits with their household responsibilities, schooling, recreational time or income-earning activities.
You make a very good point that young people living in economic vulnerability often want more support than just training and this is why Y Care International’s DRR work is always run alongside, and integrated with, our employability and enterprise work. We don’t implement standalone DRR projects; we build resilience throughout our livelihoods work. For example, we are currently implementing a project in Haiti which is providing vulnerable youth who are out of school and out of work with vocational skills training (such as plumbing and carpentry) alongside non-formal basic education as literacy rates are low here. Lessons on disasters, ways to reduce disaster risk, and climate change have been built into this curriculum so that young people are learning about DRR while improving their literacy. Read about this project here
Being aware of disaster risks and the ways to reduce them in your own community, and being part of a community group that is working together to build disaster resilience, can result in tangible improvements. For example, members of youth-led YMCA DRR committees in Bangladesh, say that they felt a marked difference in how they coped with flooding and subsequent temporary displacement now compared to before their involvement in the committee. Many of these young people have also helped their families to raise the foundations of their home so that when the monsoon rains come and only mild flooding occurs, their homes are not flooded. Read about what they said here
. These are tangible improvements in their lives.
Finally, please do have a look at this Y Care International article about why working with local young volunteers is so effective here