Patience Is Key When Working With Young Social Activists

Posted: November 18, 2014 in UN

One of the challenges faced when working with young people on rights-based programs, is time. Often we, both adults and young people, are running out of time especially when adrenaline kicks in and the world spins radically, waiting for no one. Thus the urgency shown, and yet young people who are steering their activities display a hesitation, or uncertain and even indifference.

Despite it all, even the lack of time should not hamper the participation of youths in critical aspects of empowerment. I’m a firm believer that young people should make informed decisions regarding participation, whether in government-level policy making, programs designed by the NGOs for them, and even assessing their schools and social surroundings. Some may not want to be involved, but that’s fine with me. I don’t see why young people should be pressured into deciding something just to meet the expectations of their peers or adults.

I met an inspiring young person, who has shown great initiative, whether its on her desire to improve quality of education or that she wants a voice of reason in the establishment. I asked her to consider meeting up with the UN agency, to touch base with their officials, to obtain more information about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to lobby for funds that her group needs for their activities. Its been almost two weeks, and she hasn’t sent the email to the UN contact. Several gentle reminders, and I’m still hoping she would think of the benefits to such a meeting… and still no response.

Oh well, regardless of the delay, I’ve faced such situation many times in the past. I shrug my shoulders, and exercise my will to be patient. At times, we need to take a step back, giving young people the space, and time, to decide what’s in their best interest for themselves.


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