After studying at the St Nicholas Anglican Secondary School in the Solomon Islands, Lawrence Nodua was offered a place on the Commonwealth Youth Programme’s course in Youth Development Work.
This diploma is taken by recent school leavers, police officers, government and NGO employees and youth workers. As well as equipping them with the knowledge on which to base their potential future work with young people, this course also provides general business management skills which can help graduates set up their own businesses or work effectively within successful companies. Past diploma students have gone on to establish poultry farms, retail businesses and gardening companies.
“Being accepted on this course was a big achievement for me because at twenty years old it was quite intimidating to attend sessions with mature students who seemed to know so much,” said Lawrence, who lives in the Reef Islands, which are scattered along the east of the Pacific island country. “Encouragement from my tutor and mentor gave me the courage stick with it,” he added.
Learning about how to engage young people in community activities was of particular interest to Lawrence, who decided to set up his own youth group a year into the course.
One of the modules which focused on Human Rights and Gender taught him that women should be treated as equals and that non-discrimination can be promoted by integrating groups from different ethnic backgrounds.
This prompted Lawrence – who initially used soccer to attract young men from his local community – to expand the membership to women and other young people from neighbouring provinces.
Using skills learnt on the course, he also facilitated discussions and encouraged members of the group to speak out on issues affecting their lives.
A year after setting up this youth group, representatives from Lawrence’s group took part in the annual soccer and netball competitions held in his own province.
Unprompted, his group members suggested they conduct human rights awareness to the crowds, in order to discourage discrimination between different races.
“We organised informal talks and discussions on human rights, including women and children’s rights, during the soccer tournament, which received great interest from young and others Reef Islanders,” he said.
After graduating from the course in 2003 Lawrence believes that the knowledge and skills he learned proved invaluable in helping him set up his youth network.
Lawrence, now 29, also believes the course propelled him to his current job as an assistant salesman for Our Telekom, a telecommunications company in Solomon Islands.
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