Himba Malambo was a youth worker with Salvation Army in Zambia when she took part in the NYCI Zambia-Ireland Youth Workers' Exchange in 2009. Here she shares her experience during and following the exchange.
"November 2009 is one of the months that I will never forget in my life, when I had a chance to visit Ireland during the Zambia-Ireland youth workers exchange programme and One World Week. It was one of those days that any human being would appreciate the most.
I had an opportunity to go to different projects in different counties in Ireland. It was an amazing experience to see how youth work is done in Ireland. “Not so different from Zambia" but I can say that the most important thing that I observed and promised myself to implement when I get back to my countrywas the great recreation centres across Ireland. I could see for myself what the young people in Zambia are lacking. This and the many things I saw changed the way I look at youth work in general.
The trip motivated me to start a youth recreation centre within my community that I hope will become like the ones I saw in Ireland. I identified one of the youth workers in Zambia that had participated in the NYCI exchange programme in 2007 (David Ngosa from YMCA Zambia) who happens to share the vision with me and we are working very hard together in starting up the recreation centre.
We have so far recruited about 80 young people through the community that are participating in our activities. At the moment, we are using the already existing sports centre to do our activities. We have however, reached an advanced stage in acquiring the children’s park within our community which is about 100*100mtrs. We have also registered our project under the registrar of societies as an independent youth recreation centre, called “Libala Youth Workers Initiative.”
We are committed to achieving our goals and make the organizers and sponsors of the NYCI exchange proud by making a difference in the community we work in, through changing the lives of young people using the knowledge and experience we got from the exchange.
Our project will provide educational kits, recreation, camping, livelihood and life skills training, HIV/AIDS sensitization and school outreach programs. We believe as the united youth workers that for a child to grow they need to have the basic human rights which include the right to play and have quality education.
The relationship with the other Irish youth workers involved in the exchange has also continued to grow. We are still in contact with the many youth workers and NGOs that we met while in Ireland and we are discussing how best we can continue exchanging knowledge and experience about the work we do. Some of the organizations included the Congolese Anti-Poverty Network and Ronanstown Youth Service and some of the students from the different universities in Ireland. We believe as a team that these connections will help us achieve our principles goals in our project.
I further want to give credit to the organizers of the exchange programme: NYCI, Irish Aid and 80:20 for coming up with such an exciting and life changing programme. We really need such initiatives in youth work!"