After overcoming many obstacles, the International Year of Youth was officially launched in Guyana on 18 March 2011, writes Abbas Hamid, a 20-year-old youth activist from New Amsterdam.
It has been over six months since this important year has started. While the majority of the youth here in Guyana are unaware of International Year of Youth there are a few who recognise its importance and the opportunity that was given to youth.
For many years here in Guyana the issue of youth has not been given much attention. The International Year of Youth, under the theme “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”, and under the slogan, “Our Year, Our Voice”, has created a new vision for youth in Guyana.
In January 2011, a young man wanted to stop dreaming and live his dream for smart investments in youth and to see a Guyana where the voices of young people are heard – a Guyana which provides mechanisms through which they can participate and have dialogue with their leaders.
Little did he know there are thousands of youth who are dreaming the same dream.
The International Year of Youth created a platform for this Guyanese youth to make his dream a reality. This young man, Mark Anthony Ross quickly mobilised six other youths: Abbas Hamid, Korey Chisholm, Idi Wilson, Tiffany Daniels, Andrew Bernard and Ras Ian, who all recognised the issues that young people are facing and their unused potential which can be channeled into the development of Guyana.
On that day these youth combined their dreams and took up the challenge issued by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local national and global levels,” he said.
After days of research, the group was unsuccessful in finding any observance or activities for the International Year of Youth in Guyana by the government, NGOs or the private sector. This was heartbreaking.
Considering the fact that the population of young people in Guyana is over 50 per cent, yet their presence was not acknowledged by celebrating this important year, much less having their voices heard.
Utilizing the golden opportunity provided by this year, these seven individuals formed into a group to observe International Year of Youth – for youth by youth. Since its inception the group has grown from a mere seven persons to over 2,500 youth worldwide, connected via the internet.
With an increasing number of young people throughout Guyana wanting their voice to be heard, the group has been encouraged to form into an organisation called “Global Youth Movement” to channel the voices of young people to our leaders in observance of International Year of Youth.
The group have established networks around Guyana with young people which has lead to excitement about the International Year of Youth. Every young person was invited to celebrate. Distance was not a barrier for some individuals. They travel from around Guyana to meet every week to plan the observance of year of youth and those that couldn’t, stayed connected through Facebook.
After overcoming many obstacles and with little support from the government, the International Year of Youth was officially launched in Guyana on March 18th 2011for the first time by youth.
At the launch, the Prime Minister, a UN representative and a diverse set of young people were present.
But the success for the group was not really the launch but having the Prime Minister and the government realise that this is our year and we’ll make our voices be heard.
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