YOUNG people across Guadalcanal, Malaita, Western Province and Choiseul commemorated International Youth Day on Wednesday through holding youth forums across the country.
The young people are addressing their issues and concerns to representatives from Provincial and localGovernment and youth stakeholders.
The Guadalcanal Youth Forum was held at Saint Barnabas on Wednesday, while a Malaita forum was held in Auki.
Choiseul will be holding their youth forum on August 24, and Western will hold their youth forum in September.
Civic Engagement is the theme of this year’s International Youth Day.
At the Guadalcanal Youth Forum, Andre Tipoki, Director of the Youth Division of MWYCFA gave the keynote address and said that the purpose of the event was to give young people the opportunity to raise their voices and engage in the development of the country.
Danny Nugent from the Australian High Commission, RSIPF Assistant Commissioner Gabriel Maneluki, RSIPF Department of Community Policing representative Solomon Sisimia as well as other key Ministries and NGOs were in attendance to discuss issues affecting youth.
About 22 young peoplefrom 9communities in Guadalcanal presented their views on issues present in their communities, including sanitation and water supply, health and education, deterioration of custom and cultural norms and drugs.
The communities represented are Titige, Papaho, Komporo, Kusika, Koli, Veravaluu, Papangu, Takaboru and Mbarana.
George Kofana from Papaho is one of the youth who presented the issues to stakeholders.
He said “This event is important because many issues that youth face are not changing. After this event I feel positive because most of the stakeholders responded to our questions and we know that they are serious about addressing the issues.”
Corina Maeli from Takaboru presented on the issue of low literacy among communities and youth.
She said “In my community there are a lot of people who don’t know how to read and write. I would like any NGO or other stakeholders to provide literacy and early childhood classes.”
Stakeholders and Government representatives thanked the young representatives for their presentations, and responded with their thoughts on youth and community issues.
After the event, Mr Tipoki said “The youth debate was great. The youth issues raised are well represented and inclusive of those young people who are not able to attend.
“There is a very high level of participation by both the youth and stakeholders. This kind of opportunity does not come easy and the youth did make the most of it.”
Abraham Ubua is a community leader from Papagu community who volunteers with the Youth Group.
He said “I am really happy about this Youth Forum. It was really helpful and gave us new ideas on how to address these issues and who we can work in partnership with – stakeholders, government ministries, NGOs etc. – not necessarily to give money, but to give advice and raise awareness on these issues.
“For me as a leader, this has given me courage to strengthen our programs in the community.”
The Youth Forum is part of Save the Children’s Youth Outreach Partnership Project (YOPP) program, which has been running youth livelihood and development programs in the Solomon Islands since 2006.
The YOPP operates youth projects aimed at improving the livelihoods and opportunities of young people in Guadalcanal, Malaita, Western Province and Choiseul.
YOPP Program Manager NerolVaekesasaid, “The purpose of this forum is to give young people opportunities to raise their voice to stakeholders so that their issues are considered by decision makers.
“This has the potential to give them the confidence to speak out, as well as to make a difference to governance in the Solomon Islands.”
Save the Children Australia has been working in the Solomon Islands since 1986in the areas Education, Health, Child Protection, Emergencies/ Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihoods.
Save the Children works at community, provincial and national levels to support and strive for the attainment of children and young people’s rights.
National operations are based in Honiara and provincial offices are located in Western, Choiseul and Malaita provinces.