By Naomi Yakawich
Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Tanzania and partners hosted three days of events this August to commemorate International Youth Day 2017. Held under the theme “Youth Building Peace,” the events included tree planting, a youth symposium and a youth festival.
More than 300 people participated in planting 500 trees in the Kongwa District in the Dodoma Region on August 10. The tree-planting service activity is especially vital to this arid location.
Hon. Jestina Mhagama, Minister of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Youth and Disabled, thanked the volunteers and conveyed the importance of environmental preservation and contributing something meaningful to their community and nation saying, “The time is now, you must ensure that you work very hard and utilize well your time.”
On August 11, GPF Tanzania gathered over 200 students from various schools and colleges in the Dodoma Region as well as youth from partnering organizations to participate in a Youth Symposium under the theme, “Involvement and Participation of Youth in Maintaining Peace.”
Deputy Minister Mr. Anthony Mavunde from the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Youth and Disabled encouraged youth to use social media in positive ways that maintain peace saying, “Social media is not a platform to insult others. This habit is not acceptable. It must stop.”
Representatives from UN Tanzania provided background and education on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasizing the importance of youth in taking ownership of their implementation.
GPF Tanzania Director Martha Nghambi highlighted the role of youth in contributing to peace building campaigns, introducing GPF initiative “Vijana Na Amani,” or “Youth and Peace.” The campaign provides leadership education and entrepreneur workshops to raise young people with moral and innovative leadership capacities to counter youth involvement in violent extremism prevalent across the nation.
“There can be no development without peace,” said Martha. She encouraged students to be positive no matter what challenges they face addressing them as “peace ambassadors” in the struggle against corruption, which she called “the enemy of development.”
The final event assembled more than 800 students and representatives from government and local NGOs in a Youth Festival held on August 12. Complete with performances, speeches and campaigns for peace, the festival provided youth with the opportunity to meet local leaders and demonstrate their support and commitment to peace building initiatives in the region.
Volunteers and speakers for the International Youth Day 2017 events in Tanzania represented the Government of Tanzania, the United Nations, local schools and several NGOs. Partners included the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Youth and Disabled, UN Tanzania, VSO Tanzania, Raleigh Tanzania, Restless Development Tanzania, Save the Children, and Roots and Shoots.