By: Aloyce P. Urassa, Youth Leader for Health-Tanzania
Every time I listen or watch the news, I learn the world is speaking one language. Even though there are no new cases update within country, we are all in one way or the other talking about COVID-19, which has so far washed away over three hundred and sixty thousand lives, bruised the economy and social life at large.
As the world is in shambles and experiencing a huge adjustment into “the new normal” it is clear and beyond doubt that the world needs not only to bounce back but to correct and adjust for a better tomorrow.
On 26th April 2020, during my presentation on radio about engagement of young people in health systems strengthening, I received a very interesting and rhetorical question from a listener who introduced himself as a young person, “How can the government or any institution move forward in planning and even implementation of policies without including the torchbearers? Will they not stumble in the dark?”
Indeed, young people are the torchbearers for combating global threats and for sustainable development. Some of us, through the Youth Leaders for Health program (YL4H) have had international training on leadership and advocacy. YL4H program has had a tremendous impact on me. I have learnt effective ways to do advocacy and tell impactful stories that help to shape and bring changes in communities.
WE NEED TO CREATE A STORY OF NOW
“Do what it takes to make it happen” Dr. Elichilia Shao
As young health advocates, it is time to amplify our voices in advocating for health systems strengthening and strong endorsement of the fight against other killers such as malaria in the midst of COVID-19. It is a particularly important moment now, to put into action all the good experience we have and we continue to learn.
We can do that, by creating public awareness on preventative measures and we can encourage behavioral change by example within our workplaces, universities,
We can do that, by creating public awareness on preventative measures and we can encourage behavioral change by example within our workplaces, universities, communities and homes. As the quotation from a book ‘Dream, make it happen’ by Dr. Elichilia Shao states above we shouldn’t be silent but start making a good story about our impact now.
communities and homes. As the quotation from a book ‘Dream, make it happen’ by Dr. Elichilia Shao states above we shouldn’t be silent but start making a good story about our impact now.
With fresh spirit and high motivation, we will write a story that will influence generations to come. Let us learn from our ancestors who are recalling past strategies that were used to fight pandemics successfully. They recall stories written by people to make a difference.
Some or most are in lockdown either by order of the state or voluntarily like me, I am writing this seated in my room and observing social distancing. When I can’t get out or don’t have resources to go out, I utilize well my internet devices, mobilize people via social media, engage in global, regional and local meetings, share relevant and vital information with family and friends, read publications and posts from people, learn and give my comments and keep the movement going. I participate in online campaigns such as the beat campaign on zero malaria, solidarity pledges as a global citizen. You can also learn and do the same. With just a small spark we can ignite a tremendous fire. GET STARTED!
CO-OPERATION WITHIN LOCKDOWN
On 25th April 2020, on World Malaria Day, I was puzzled with the strong unity created among youth leaders for health and their mentors without any physical movement.
A great beat was hit and spread to thousands about malaria fight and youth leaders celebrated with joy. This experience reminded me that social media is truly meant for socialization ‘getting us together’.
Currently a lot of webinars and virtual meetings are free for people to participate in. I always search, register and participate according to my interests. I make new friends. I get enlightened and this interaction gives me a story to share now and post COVID-19. Volunteering in my community has also opened up opportunities for me to learn and interact with others. Through socializing via online systems or social media like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn I have connected to other African youths and eventually being the administrator for African youth for public services group platform representing Tanzania. I also joined a virtual meeting with WHO Director General as a youth leader in civil society organizations.
EXCELLENCE IN DIFFICULT TIMES
“When we are afraid and uncertain, the still small voice of an advocate becomes even more powerful” Dr. Sylvia Anie
There are great things I desire to achieve; I do not have to wait for this time to pass. It is in difficult moments that the strongest minds thrive, flourish and shine. As the quote above from one of my great and inspiring mentor Dr. Sylvia states, We as young advocates should never keep quite even in tough and desperate moments rather speak as our voices go further with more impacts in silent moments. Recalling the history of fighting for freedom in Africa and learning how young leaders at the moment emerged of whom we embrace to this moment gives me all reasons to never hide during tough moments rather getting out to serve others. Most of them were between 20s and 30s. You aren’t late to document your own story of now.
The future we want depends on the present we live. An excellent future will only rise from excellent and well prepared minds. READ! LEARN! DO!
Reading alone doesn’t matter if I learn nothing, learning will have no significance if not applied. I take my time to read new things and develop what I already know as access is even broader during this moment, learn from them and do or plan how to do whenever possible.
CALL TO ACTION
To stakeholders, young people are ready to do more tasks today and get prepared for tomorrow. If you are in position to support them, do not hesitate. Currently some organizations like Health promotion Tanzania-HDT and others are offering great support to young advocates. Give access to more platforms at every level, both local and global. Young people are the power. Use this power well to avoid stumbling and falling into the darkness.
To young people, a lot of opportunities are opened for us, let switch on the power within us and move to the grounds of reality. Let’s get together and co-operate for excellence. “Go Youth Leaders Go” A great motive from our mentor.
Youth Leaders for Health is a joint program by WACI Health, RESULTS UK, Health Promotion Tanzania-HDT, Hope for Future Generation, and CISMAT- SL with support from Comic Relief. The platform facilitates and connects 25 Youth Leaders passionate about health and healthcare systems to advocate for policy change at key national, regional and global advocacy moments.