Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘world youth alliance

Solidarity with Haiyan’s victims

By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters 

On November 10, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, leaving parts of the country in devastation and chaos. Approximately 10,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives during this storm.

Photos of the typhoon’s destruction have brought tears not only to the eyes of those who live in the Philippines, but also to those who are part of the Filipino diaspora around the world.

Both Filipino citizens as well as Filipinos who live in other countries are gearing their efforts to rebuild the nation. Fortunately, they are not alone in these efforts.

Other organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, the World Food Programme, Oxfam, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and others have tried their best to help those in need in the Philippines through relief projects and fundraisers.

The solidarity between these organizations is amazing to witness and this solidarity is growing and will keep on growing. The World Youth Alliance defines solidarity as the “unified commitment of persons to live and work in the truth of who we are and for the pursuit of the common good.

It is beautiful to watch how this collaboration is created. Because these organizations each have a different focus, every particular sector of a country’s relief efforts is given proper attention.

Aside from larger projects by these organizations, funds are also being collected by others elsewhere reinforcing the growing solidarity between those with one goal: rebuild the Philippines.

Social media efforts have also risen as a result of this tragedy. Various hashtags have been used to spread the word about the tragedy in the Philippines such as #Stronger PH and #BangonPH, which means, Rise Philippines.

Although various groups and organizations already work day and night to help their fellow kababayans (“countrymen”) with activities such as collecting donations and packing relief goods, there is a lot more we could do here in the United States.

Our efforts can be viewed as two-fold: awareness and action.

Both are essential for us to help rebuild the Philippines and join those who were affected in solidarity. For example, on my campus, I have set up fundraising opportunities to benefit some of the organizations mentioned above in their efforts to bring disaster relief to the Philippines.

I am also helping to plan a talent showcase, an open mic, or a lecture to spread awareness and collect funds for the cause. Whether it is through tabling for donations or collecting donations at events, there are plenty of other ways those who are in the United States can help.

The first step is to become aware of and acknowledge the disaster which inspires us to action. Whether you help out with these events, donate clothing, donate a dollar, or donate twenty dollars, actions at times like these are neither big nor small. Any action is progressive.

At the time it is needed the most, solidarity never fails to arise.

Whether it is a typhoon in the Philippines, an earthquake in Haiti or a tsunami in Indonesia, many join in solidarity to help rebuild a nation in need. Any effort is a step towards a united goal to rebuild a nation.

This testifies to the strong spirit of both the nation and the citizens. Solidarity knows no borders. Whether you are in the Philippines, the United States, Europe, or another country, there is always an action which you can take and whatever you do is sure to make an impact.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once said, “Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.” (Though she was pretty silent to the Moslem plight in Burma)

Now it is up to you! Will you join us in solidarity in this time of need?

For ways to help out you can also read this article:

 By John Sapida, a former intern at WYA headquarters 

Drawing Humanity

Diala ElMasri, a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East, posted this Sept. 6, 2013:

I may not know how to draw but I do know very well that I love to draw.

I particularly love the deep sense of tranquility that I delve into every time I hold a pencil and try to put my whole world onto this small piece of paper. Whether what ends up on this paper is anger from a particular political situation, some scrambled lines that show a deep sadness from the cruelty that I see every day, or whether it is a love story or a story of childhood dreams coming true – the result are beyond the paper itself, a profound peace of mind like no other. 


However for the past few weeks, I have more than ever felt compelled to draw – but this time it’s different.

This time the paper and pencil do not seem to suffice to portray all the turmoil inside of me; this time I do not end with peace, but rather more of this feeling of lost.

This time I am worried about the culture that we are turning into,

I am worried about the senseless beings wandering aimlessly around us,

I am worried that a picture of a singer’s scandal shakes us more than a picture of a massacre of real men and women does.

As I draw, I try my ultimate best to portray pragmatic terms, depicting both the theory and the practice. When these two concepts become conspicuously divergent, my task becomes all the more challenging.

For example, in recent times, political terminology has become over-used and sometimes abused. You hear people speaking of the right to democracy as an abstract term, not identifying the myriad of shades that lie within it.

You hear demands for economic development, as if this is a process ensured through a bunch of policies, forgetting that the individual lies at the very center of it.

I try to draw democracy.

I start with people voting and asserting their rights. And it strikes me that people are being possessed with an overarching ideology that a leader transmits, that they are held by their throats to be able to survive financially, that they have to rebel and kill and watch their children get killed to be heard.

I try to draw a nation, a government, a political order, a land…

And I fail again:  I cannot depict the famine that our Arab world is witnessing, the murder, the torture and at the same time, and simultaneously at the other end, you witness people not showing a single sense of empathy, or even the slightest human concern.

And because I am convinced that drawing is an illustration of my view towards humanity and life, I refuse to draw anything but life in  humanity.

Each time I find myself ending up with a blank paper, and an incomparable anger.

What makes you angry at the world?

What makes you want to spend days and nights working?

What makes want to fight?

Or are you so used to a sense of inferiority that you no longer give it another thought.

You became utterly convinced that you cannot change, and that seeing people die is part of life or of a bigger political game, a natural sacrifice for the fight of power and money.

Our problem is that we lack identity; we lack a sense of belonging not to a land, but rather to humanity.

We speak about humanity in abstract terms as if we know what we are talking about. However, we do not belong to it.

We belong to an ideal (or an idea) we set for ourselves from the moment we become aware of our being, and anything besides this ideal is outside our circle of concern.

We are no longer crashed, not even moved, when the countries around us with their people and their dreams are crushed in one missile.

I tried to draw anger.

I looked closely into what really fills people with rage, and I did not find anything worth noting. Every time you turn your eyes away from a brutal picture of adverse events or every time you refuse to hear the news you are turning away on parts of your own humanity.

I try to draw humanity and all I can fathom are skewed parallel lines of millions and millions of individuals that would never meet.

I want to draw a revolution, a revolution from within.

At a point I look at myself and I cannot identify with you anymore, humanity slipped away through a culture that has taught us to ignore and accept.

We forgot how our self leapt for the first time we saw a beggar on the road – that was long ago when we were children, back when we were not contaminated yet.

I will draw.

A million hidden stories on the curves of the lips reaching the threshold of fear and insecurity. These are stories of belonging, of love, of concern, of failure, of sadness.

Together they are the masses of my revolution.

And I will draw sharpness in the eyes, one that made us neglect the fundamentals of this life.

Revolution softens – they will soften.

And I will draw all the contradicting terminologies, all the images of suffering, on the cheeks, stepping on them with anger and rage never seen before, until the cheeks restore the redness that had long faded away into pale identical individuals.

And the mouth will be open. Yelling and screaming against corruption, against fear, against brutality, against silence.

Yelling and screaming until the skin cracks open into star constellations, into dust from the moon, into fire and glow and love, into stars, tiny little stars.

Until the heart says I found home.

Youth representation? Where has youth participated? How about youth manipulation?

Is the topic of youth inclusion gaining more momentum with international organizations?  Are young people around the world playing a more important role in influencing decision-makers?

Government representation at the international level is an easy matter of a decision from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Youth representatives present more complications, as young people are often used to promote the agendas and interests of certain countries or agencies.

The defunct Egyptian President Morsi got it loud and clear as youth unfurled their anger and determination in mass monster demonstrations to oust a government that forgot the youth needs and wants…

The unemployment in Greece for youth under 25 is about 35%. The official rates in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are not dropping bellow 25%.

The trick is that in these States, in order to vent off the anger and frustration of the unemployed youth, governments keep deciding on early elections, even after a 6-month stint, and the results are the same in resolution and consequences.

Governments change quickly, but the youth are never asked to participate and be represented in how policies should be changed.

Cedric Choukeir,  the Regional Director of the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East and North Africa, posted this July 2, 2013:

I recently attended the regional Arab States Conference for the ICPD +20 that took place from June 24 till June 26 in Egypt.

The aim of the conference was to review the progress made so far regarding the ICPD program of action over the past 19 years in the Arab region and to come up with a declaration that would feed into the UN General Assembly Special Session on ICPD Beyond 2014 that is planned to take place in September 2014.

Youth participation played a key role in shaping the declaration of the conference, as the unofficial representatives were given a 30 minute panel to lead, along with a seat in the negations of the drafting committee. The youth representative was being allowed to participate in the negotiations in the same manner as country delegations do; a practice that goes against UN protocol.

Unfortunately, youth participation was monopolized by the UNFPA sponsoredArab Youth Coalition for the ICPD Beyond 2014” that included mostly UNFPA partner youth NGOs and 15 International Planned Parenthood Federation staff members.

Donor funding highly influenced the coalition’s priorities as can be seen from their Call to Action, a replica of the UNFPA agenda.

In the region that has the highest youth unemployment rates in the World, the four page call to action fails to mention the issue even once.

This is a call out to country representatives and young people all around the world not be fooled by well branded youth representatives. It is important to ask:

who is funding their travel expenses and five star hotels?

why they are being funded?

which organizations they represent? and

how they decide on their priorities?

Most youth coalitions “created specifically” to advocate for one conference, such as the ICPD, build their advocacy messages with the aid of facilitators from the funding agency that direct them based on the agency’s goals. The selection process is also very important, as there is usually no open call for youth NGOs to join the coalition, and only the NGOs that are in line with the funding agency’s positions are invited to join.

These fake coalitions should ask youth in the Arab region what they truly want before monopolizing their voice and handing it over to an international organization with an agenda that is contradictory to the region’s priorities.

Note:  A comment said: “What about sexual health and relationships?”

Cedric’s replied: “Nope none of the kids we spoke to talked about that. They’re not interested. Their priorities are taking care of their brothers and sisters and housekeeping” “can you ask them about sex then?”

Cedric resumed: “In working with young Lebanese all over Lebanon over three years… when I open up the floor for them to talk about their priorities, not once has once of them even come close to mentioning the subject! I did an online poll in 24 hours for youth in the Arab region and asked about the priorities and I included sexual and reproductive health on purpose as an option, out of 501 votes, it got only 2…




December 2022

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