2018 International Youth Day: A Safe Space to DREAM
Where do you go when you are scared, embarrassed, or when you just have to get away from it all? Perhaps it’s your backyard, your bedroom, or simply to the companionship of a certain person. Many of us are lucky enough to have a safe space – a place we can go, free from judgement and free from worry. Unfortunately, for many young women and children living in under-resourced communities, these safe spaces simply do not exist.
Women and children are among the most vulnerable individuals around the world. Despite holding important roles within their communities, women and children suffer the most from illness, disparity (especially when it comes to education), and poverty.
It is for this reason (among many others) that on Sunday, August 12, we celebrate International Youth Day. And, this year’s theme happens to be safe spaces for youth. In light of this year’s theme, we see it fitting to highlight one of our programs that aims to bring health education, dignity, and empowerment to young adolescents – in a safe space.
A safe space to DREAM big.
Determined Resilient Empowered AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe Women (DREAMS) is a partnership that works to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The initiative promotes the importance of education, while making school environments more girl friendly – better latrines and sanitary conditions and persuasive, pro-girl attitudes that encourage school attendance and female empowerment.
In Zambia, our role focuses on the establishment of drop in “safe spaces,” where cohorts of girls are mentored on life skills, encouraged to get tested for HIV, and educated on the risk of HIV infection.
In Kenya, our DREAMS project works in “non-formal schools,” focusing on key dropout points in girls’ school careers. Teachers are trained in gender-equitable instruction and parents on why girls’ education matters. Additionally, schools are equipped with clean toilets and sanitation facilities, and adolescents are paired with mentors from the University of Nairobi.
“The hopes of the world rest on young people. Peace, economic dynamism, social justice, tolerance — all this and more, today and tomorrow, depends on tapping into the power of youth.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres
At CMMB, we believe that every child deserves a safe space. On this International Youth Day, while we continue our efforts to create safe spaces for young women and children, we also remember the thousands of young people who do not have a safe place – a place to feel special, cared for, and mentored. We believe that when young people are given a safe space to engage and learn they are more likely to affect positive change in their communities.