As member of one of the youth organizations in Dar es Salaam, I participated in some training organized by the One Stop Youth Centre staff, and from then I began to hear more about the One Stop activities and get engaged with the centre more.
Having a One Stop Youth Centre means having a place wher all the youth of Dar es Salaam are welcome, where they can meet and interact with each other and with service providers relevant to their needs. It’s also a great place for youth to get the information they need, on issues such as livelihood, training, health and life skills.
Through the Dar es Salaam One Stop, I have participated in a number of different activities they have organized, including environmental cleanups, sports events, and most recently I was excited to take part in Capacity Building in Nairobi, Kenya, offered through UN-HABITAT. As a youth who would like to remain involved in the Centre as it develops and grows, I was glad to have the opportunity to learn more about Youth Information Work as a whole concept during that training.
The urban youth of Tanzania include those who were born in the city as well as a growing number of youth who are migrating from rural areas in search of livelihoods and greater infrastructure and services that cities can offer. This means that we as the youth of our country’s biggest urban centre have some unique gifts, and some particular challenges, we face.
We do have good health care, and young people in cities manage to make the best of the informal employment sector to gain some income. The city also offers a lot more access to information than non-urban areas, which can be empowering. On the other hand, youth in Dar es Salaam are faced with a real lack of shelter, and economic poverty. Most live each day without any assurance of being able to eat tomorrow – it makes it hard to pursue long term goals when your daily bread is always in question.
I imagine that employment issues are shared by youth across the world – all young people want access to meaninful livelihoods. In that I think that the youth of Tanzania are no different than anywhere else. And in the developing world, at least, there is a shared challenge of lacking access to high quality, free education.
I’d like political leaders in my home to know that the participation of young people in all levels of government is really important. Young people deserve to be part of decision making at every level – the decisions affect us, and we have valid and useful perspectives to share. Governments need to meaningfully include youth, and need to share timely and useful information regarding good governance, rights and advocacy with young people.
In terms of world leaders, I would like them to know – particularly about the youth of Africa – that young people are not simply “leaders of tomorrow”. We are already leaders, and members of society, today. We need to be given real opportunities to participate in the development and security issues that are facing our continent. Our views matter. We need avenues to express them, and for that we need to know that there is guaranteed freedom of expression, as well as solid access to information. When we are treated as full partners in development issues, real change will result.