Youths Heard in South Africa
Nine young people from Limerick joined their peers from over twenty nations as they took part in a Youth Global Awareness Programme in the South African city of Cape Town.
The young people are members of Limerick Be Heard, a collaborative group consisting of Limerick Youth Service, the University of Limerick (UL) and Limerick Comhairle na nÓg and were in South Africa as guests of their sister group Cape Town Be Heard.
‘The Youth Global Programme was hosted and organized by the International Federation of Worker’s Education Association (IFWEA) an international NGO dedicated to community and worker education,’ explained Prof. Maura Adshead, UL’s Politics Dept.
As part of the week long programme the young people shared their experiences of promoting youth issues in their respective nations and the successes and challenges of encouraging young people to engage in the democratic process.
‘We also discussed ways to increase participation in politics in a way that is inclusive, creative, subversive, diverse, and respectful,’ said Prof Adshead.
Away from the academic debate, participants also went on field trips to some of South Africa’s most famous tourist sites and spent time in the ‘Townships.’
‘Our visits to the ‘Townships’ were incredibly moving as we visited schools and spoke with local students,’ said John Real, Limerick Youth Service.
‘The conditions in the ‘Townships’ were eye-opening as we learned that many of the areas had their water supply turned off after 6pm and had limited access to Wi-Fi, things that we take for granted,’ said John.
Reflecting on an incredible week, John thanked the many organisations that made the conference possible with a special mention to the local young people who ‘were great ambassadors for their city, community and peers.’
Limerick Be Heard was created in Limerick in 2016 with the aim of increasing the political participation and civic engagement of groups whose voices are seldom heard in mainstream electoral discussions.
As part of the project, mirror ‘Be Heard’ groups were created in other cities with young people exchanging ideas and developing a real sense of global citizenship through shared activities.
Looking to the future, Limerick Be Heard will create five more new groups in the New Year to promote human rights and positive political change while another international conference is also in the pipeline.
One of 31 nationwide, Limerick Comhairle na nÓg is a youth council that gives young people the opportunity to be involved in the development of local services and policies that affect them.
A member of Youth Work Ireland, Limerick Youth Service remains committed to supporting and encouraging young people to be active participants in shaping their futures.