Today was a great day in Madagascar. It was a great day for recognition of the good work of the National YMCA. I have seldom experienced anything like it. First it was breakfast with the Minister for Employment and Vocational Training in the Government plus all three Director Generals from her ministry. The top leadership from a national government ministry. Impressive.
Here an atmospheric photo from the evening yesterday where the Board Chair of the National YMCA and I have a very friendly and interesting dinner conversation.
The Minister, Madame Toto Raharimalala Lydia, gave a solid opening speech where she expressed how dedicated her ministry and her President are for the fight against youth unemployment, and how she saw a further intensified development of infrastructure and education as essential for a better development for young people.
Above representatives for large private businesses and staff from the YMCA listening attentively to the speech of the Minister. She expressed how important she saw the collaboration with the YMCA in Madagascar and welcomed us for partnership and cooperation.
If the minister was positive and welcoming to the YMCA, her Director General, Mr Rabearivelo Noallsen A, was even more clear in his statements. In his speech he declared that the YMCA in Madagascar from today will be rated as a full and official partner for the ministry in the implementation of the national government policy on youth employment. He urged the YMCA to participate in an exchange of information of strategies and plans with the government. He also told us that in his younger days he had been a member of the YMCA and had enjoyed the fellowship in the YMCA.
You may remember from last autumn that I wrote about my meeting with Director General Guy Ryder of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). That meeting resulted in an invitation to send two National Secretaries from the YMCA to a high level conference of the ILO in Italy. Nirvana from Madagascar was one of them. There she met the deputy of the ILO Director General, and later on he visited Madagascar and met up with Nirvana at the YMCA. The deputy from ILO, Valter, connected us with the local ILO office, and above you see Clara Ramaromanana, who came to the YMCA breakfast together with another colleague from ILO. Again the warm invitation for partnership and collaboration was expressed from ILO.
From that rather impressive breakfast we were driven to the offices of the African Union in Antananarivo where we were received by the leader of the office, Madame Hawa Ahmed Youssouf. We all expressed how the YMCAs in Africa participated actively in the Africa Union Agenda 2063, “The Africa We Want”, and we all agreed that further collaboration was wished for and would be facilitated. A most constructive and positive meeting with the top diplomat for the African Union in Madagascar. I complimented Nirvana for her success in facilitating two such high level meetings in one day. This is about making the YMCA more visible and recognised!
YMCA Youth Power Space in Carion, an hours drive into the countryside. This became a wonderful encounter with an active Youth Empowerment YMCA – typical for the new profile of the YMCA in Madagascar. Again I became so impressed and so encouraged and inspired.
In addition to the language training they add a separate curriculum for life skills and values and essential issues for young people in their development. Here was an answer to the results from One Million Voices youth research. The lack of knowledge and information about life skills and basic understanding of labour laws and requirements was fully compensated in Carion YMCA.
In the FIFA centre the Poultry Club was meeting for their weekly mentoring and follow up related to all practical and theoretical questions on growing chicken and keeping them healthy for young farmers. Added the same value curriculum as the other clubs. I observed these motivated young people being empowered in front of my eyes. They were developing their own farms and businesses as true entrepreneurs. Trained and prepared by the YMCA.
Lack of enough land for the farmers is a serious problem. Therefore the innovative idea of growing salad and tomatoes in recycled plastic bottles in several floors and levels was developed by the young participants.
Here vegetables are growing in happy novelty and innovation with water dripping from one bottle to the next and even the water itself is being recycled at the end.
Then we drove half an hour into the wilderness on very poor roads to visit Zo, a young farmer who met the entrepreneurial training of the YMCA five years ago when he had only 5 chicken. With 150 Euro in start capital and continuous mentoring and follow up from the YMCA, he has slowly grown his own farm till he owns 74 chicken, 52 rabbits, a cow and a calf. And he is still expanding!
He had to stop after secondary education five years ago, but now he has saved up and is ready to start his academic education at the university. A miraculous story of success by changing mindset and attitudes – Youth Empowerment par excellence.
On our way back to Antananarivo we stopped by this poster put up by the YMCA. It is an overview of risk and danger related to typhoons and floods and other natural disasters, and instructions how local people ought to behave in situations of danger. Impressive again and demonstrating the key role of YMCA in local community development.