Flagging Off the #WithYouth4Youth Van
The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the European Union (EU) flagged off the #WithYouth4Youth van/matatu at an event held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi on the 7th of June, 2018. The Youth van is a component under the project: Conflict Prevention, Peace and Economic Opportunities for youth in Kenya.
The project advocates for youth inclusion and empowerment through training and provision of livelihood skills. #WithYouth4Youth van is a component of the project focusing on raising awareness and promoting key messages on social cohesion and peace building. The van will also be used to raise awareness on the project.
In attendance were over 300 youth from the project areas and Nairobi. Patience Christine is one of the youth under the project from Kilifi County. “We are not crying for jobs as youth, we are crying for an enabling environment that supports job creation,” Patience said. “Red Cross has supported me to grow from a ‘street lady’ to a business person, I am grateful,” Patience added.
The EU Ambassador to Kenya, Stefano A. Dejak, during his address at the event emphasized the commitment by the EU to support development initiatives including youth empowerment. “This initiative brings youth into Kenya's national priorities and the Big Four Agenda. It will strengthen their social and professional skills, enhancing job creation,” said Ambassador Stefano Dejak.
With Funding from the European Union, KRCS has for last year and a half, implemented the project targeting youth between the age of 18-34 in the following counties: Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River, Wajir, Mandera and Garissa.
The Secretary General Kenya Red Cross Society, Dr. Abbas Gullet noted that the youth are the backbone of the Red Cross countrywide network. He also stressed the need to work as partners –both government and private sector, to ensure youth inclusion in matters that affect them.
“Through our close collaboration with the youth in the humanitarian line of duty and initial phases of this project, we realize the youth desire to be a part of the growth and prosperity of the communities they live and operate in, and the country at large. They yearn for opportunities to be heard and showcase their full potential,” said Dr. Gullet.
Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia who was the chief guest emphasized the need to recognise the youth as the critical mass that the country needs and the need to improve the welfare of the youth, to secure the future of the country.
“Regarding youth economic empowerment, we all know what has to be done, because this is a conversation we have had in many forums. But it does not hurt to have this conversation again and again, so that we as leaders are able to act upon the recommendations made,” said Prof. Kobia.
The key activities of the van will include: Attract media to highlight the role of young people in peace building. Engage in one-on-one dialogue and propose solutions to challenges facing young people and enlist youth to join the “WithYouth4Youth” online platforms, among others.
The Van’s interior and exterior design is youth savvy, fitted with; television screens, music and sound system, Wifi, cool interior and exterior finishing in line with the objective of the project.
The Matatu Culture in Kenya is comprised of public transport vehicles with flashy lights, blaring music, graffiti style Artwork and internet connection for on-board entertainment. These vehicles target mainly youth. The flashier the Matatu the cooler it is.