Generations of Change
The statistics for Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in northwest Tanzania tell a powerful story.Of the 60,000 refugees currently residing in the camp,nearly two-thirds are girls and boys aged 10 - 24 years, and almost all of them were either born a refugee or became a refugee at a very young age. They also have other things in common.
They have all grown up in a confi ned environment with little access to the outside world and with a systematic aid dependency by receiving food, health services and education from international aid agencies.
Traditional social norms strongly infl uence the daily life and behaviour of these young people. Formal education is limited to ‘A' levels (Diploma level in DRC), while access tohigher education is very limited.
The emergency settings in which they fi nd themselves have taken away their adolescence and forced them to take up the responsibilities of adults.
But even under such diffi cult circumstances, these young people are demonstrating tremendous resilience. They are helping to look after their younger siblings, forming youth groups and organizations, and contributing to positive change.
Barwani Ndume, a 16-year-old war-orphan from South Kivu who now leads some 112 elected members of the Youth Parliament at Nyarugusu Refugee Camp is a good example. As the speaker of the Youth Parliament, Barwani is making it possible for young people's voices to be heard, highlighting their needs and aspirations, and most crucially,stressing the potential that young people have to bring sustainable change.
Barwani's contribution to peace and positive change has won him an international peace award. His story and that of others contained in this publication are a reminder that young people do not have to be passive recipients of policies and ideas, they can shape things.
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