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“Working together for the common good”
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“Working together for the common good”

 

When dynamic young people who are committed to finding solutions to the problems faced by their communities, countries and the world, come together – something special happens. Shiboni D’Souza, 23, a Correspondent from Bangalore in India, shares her experience being part of such a gathering recently. 

One thing that will stick with me from the week I spent at the Commonwealth Headquarters in London recently, is the inspiration I drew from the story of Shomy Chaudhury, who lost her mother to diarrhea in 2014.

Shomy, the Asia representative for the Commonwealth Student Association is from Bangladesh, where thousands of people lose their loved ones to deadly bouts of diarrhoea each year.

When she lost her mother – Shomy thought, ” If I take action today, maybe someone’s life will be saved,” so she channelled her grief to bring awareness about the importance of personal hygiene to especially persons in marginalised communities, to prevent diarrhoea.

I  met Shomy at a Commonwealth workshop held from 27th June to 05th July 2018 at Marlborough House, London. The purpose of the workshop was to provide leadership training and promote collaboration among Commonwealth youth leaders who serve on the Commonwealth Youth Council and in the various Commonwealth youth networks.

The weeklong workshop focused on communication, trusteeship, effective leadership, promoting respect and diversity in leadership, the art of storytelling,  and strategic planning – all of which will be invaluable to us now, in time to come and probably for the rest of our lives.

Comprised of young people from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat, youth networks connect young people from Commonwealth countries to tackle issues such as education, employment, political participation and human rights, climate change, gender, and equality. The youth networks provide opportunities for us to use our knowledge and expertise to advocate for and initiate change in areas affecting us, our countries, the Commonwealth and the world.

Greater collaboration amongst youth networks is desirable because it would mean the goals of each network can be achieved more effectively. It would also mean that together we can become the voice that is required to drive change for the underrepresented youth that make up the majority of the Commonwealth.

The youth networks have attracted outstanding young people like Australian, Jacob Thomas, a member of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network who has not limited his energy to gender equality issues alone, but who also has thought-provoking perspectives about other issues such as the approach to climate change that is needed in his region and beyond.

“If Australia moves ahead and the countries in the Pacific are affected by climate change, we have nothing to be proud of,” he cautioned.

Shomy and Jacob were not the only participants who stood out to me. In fact, I was impressed and inspired by all the participants I met, as they demonstrated what seemed like a natural ability and inclination to collaborate with each other to address the complex global issues our youth networks are tackling. This cross-networking was exactly what the workshop was designed to facilitate and further.

At the workshop, we were asked to “envision how the Commonwealth could change for the better by 2040, and what young people from across the Commonwealth could contribute to help it happen.” The ideas from participants were innovative and inspirational.

Because of what I’ve seen in my peers, I believe young people have not only the determination but the expertise to make their visions of a better tomorrow a reality.

Because of what I have seen in my peers, I am certain that the youth of our generation deserve a voice at the table of decision making.

The young people I met were only a few representatives of the Commonwealth, which spans 53 countries.

If you have a passion that keeps you up at night you belong here in our youth networks and your participation is needed to make a change in this world.

The networks are open to young people from the Commonwealth to work for the common good.  As young people, we are accustomed to being heard but not really being listened to. If youth representation is to be a force to be reckoned with, we must work together to achieve our vision of a common good. Join us and become a youth network volunteer.

The Commonwealth youth networks are as follows:

Commonwealth Youth Council
Commonwealth Students Association
Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network
Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs
Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network
Commonwealth Health Network
Commonwealth Human Rights and Democracy Network
Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network
Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Network
Commonwealth Correspondents

The members of the Commonwealth Youth Council are elected by representatives from the National Youth councils (or persons nominated by the youth ministry of that country) of the 53 Commonwealth Countries.

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Photos: courtesy of  The Commonwealth

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About me: My passion is writing. My love for reading started in third grade with the Harry Potter series. I was in the founding team of TEDxBMSCE (https://www.ted.com/tedx/events/18607) and was on the core committee of our college’s national level technical fest. I have also been involved in a major college fest in Karnataka. I am an Industrial Engineering Management graduate now working as a business analyst.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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