Sudan: Youth volunteers train for a better future for Darfur
Yusra, a young woman from East Darfur, had always wanted to work with her community to help people improve their lives.
“Because of the conflict, we have so many problems such as poverty, low-income and lack of quality education. I didn’t know how and where I could start,” she says.
- A project in Sudan trains individual volunteers to build up skills and in turn develop capacity in their communities.
- The project will attempt to introduce a systematic element of volunteerism into rural community development in Sudan.
- With a 2014 budget of US $683,000, the project's funding comes from the Republic of Korea, the Government of Sudan and UNV.
For thousands of young people, war in Darfur has left a bitter legacy. It deprived them of their youth and left gaps in their education, which meant they never learnt the skills they needed to fulfill their potential. Even for those who managed to graduate from university, employment opportunities are thin on the ground.
But Yusra is now one of 200 volunteers in a knowledge-sharing scheme aimed at educating Darfur’s young university graduates, so they can train rural communities in both business and environmental skills.
The "Youth Volunteers Rebuilding" is a joint initiative led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the support of the Government of Sudan and UNV, and with funding from the Republic of Korea. It involves several weeks of training in cooperation with universities across the country.
So far the project has trained 200 young people from all five Darfur states, and 120 have already been deployed to 45 communities in Darfur. Volunteers either specialise in business or essential environmental skills. The training covers such topics as entrepreneurship, financial skills, community environment action planning, natural resource management and water-harvesting reforestation. Also there has been training in human rights, gender studies and conflict resolution.
These young volunteers are being trained to help local communities move beyond conflict and invest in their future. They are creating a bridge between often very remote agricultural communities and local, national and international markets. They are teaching community members to adapt to the realities of climate change and helping them access opportunities to improve and expand their production. All these activities are aimed at helping reduce poverty, making Darfur more stable and more resilient to conflict.
The volunteers will dedicate their efforts for 9-month periods, taking permanent residence in the target community, bring new skills and experiences to the community and will also learn and participate in training opportunities.
After completing her training, Yusra came away full of practical ideas about how she can help.
“For example, I learned how the micro-finance institutions work in Darfur,” she said. “Most of the people in communities have no idea how to access to micro-finance institutions even though they are available. I will help groundnuts producers to benefit from micro-finance institutions in the communities.”
Yusra believes that this scheme is helping Darfur become more independent of outside help.
“I hope Darfur will be peaceful and developed so that we can be independent, without foreign aid,” she said. “This project is exactly what we need for this goal. With our efforts, we will improve the livelihoods of our communities and hopefully the whole of Darfur will become developed and stable. ”