I had the honor to attend the World Youth Alliance Africa 15-Year Anniversary dinner last Saturday, 18 August, 2018 at Sarova Panafric Hotel. The event celebrates the work of promoting human dignity since the 2003 here in Africa. I was intrigued to learn how the African regional office located in Nairobi, Kenya was started and by whom. I came to learn that it started from humble beginnings with Mrs. Caroline Maingi who really believed in the work that WYA was doing back in New York. When she returned to Kenya, she decided to open a regional office in Africa as the first Regional Director.
The dinner was graced by the attendance of the WYA Global President, former and current the regional directors, and members of the Steering Committee, National Committee and the Advisory Board, WYA supporters (Kenya Christian Professionals Forum and Strathmore University Law School), WYA volunteers, some intern alumnus and WYA friends. It gave me an opportunity to interact with others and to learn the motivation in joining World Youth Alliance. For instance, Kevin Alando, the current Regional Director of Operations did not begun as a director. Rather he went from being an intern, a volunteer to now a staff member. This answered my questions on how one becomes part of the WYA staff. One must first undergo being an outstanding member who really understands what WYA advocates and stands for.
Kevin’s speech gave me a brief vision of where I would like to see the organisation in the future and the changes I would like to see happening in the world. I would like to see the organization grow in more African countries so that more youth get the opportunity to engage in WYA activities so that they can experience the work and value WYA stands for at a personal level. I believe this can be achieved through opening chapters across different countries or even within the local communities. The more people who get to know the work we do, the higher our chances to make an impact on the lives of the youth here in Africa; being the continent with the highest number of youth today.
The video clips of the work the WYA Africa team has been doing during the past 15 years, comments from former WYAA staff and alumni and their opinions on what WYA means to them and, most importantly, the different programs WYA has come up with in order to spread their work as dignity defenders (like the Human Dignity Curriculum ) made me realize that WYA is all about nurturing human dignity from an early age so that children grow up respecting others regardless of their circumstances.
WYA Africa Regional Director Patricia Gwambo read a speech from WYA CEO Anna Halpine, which contained Anna’s utmost appreciation for the good work we have been doing and her gratitude to the members who help support the staff in doing the good work as members of the Advisory Board, National and Steering Committees. After listening to her speech, it gave me the urge to at least have an opportunity to meet Anna in person and thank her individually for standing up for the human person 19 years ago which in turn led to the formation of WYA. Hearing the Global President Lord Pomperada encourage every person present to continue supporting WYA Africa in doing the good work made me proud as I realized that WYA Africa also feeds into the larger success story of World Youth Alliance not only in the African region but also globally.
Oscar Beauttah SS, being a long serving member of the Advisory Board, shared his story of how he became part of the World Youth Alliance Africa. Him being a strong supporter of WYA and what it stands for challenged me to do all that I can to spread the WYA mission and vision for it is in leaps and bounds when I get to succeed and make the world a better place for my fellow human beings. I got to grasp the fact that WYA is not just about knowing the value of other people but also knowing the importance that I hold as a human being and the effect our actions have on other people. This shows that my life is not just mine, but is also for the people that are around me. Before the day of the dinner, I thought that the idea behind the dinner was to eat and celebrate the past 15 years of WYA’s existence here in the African region. In the end I came to realize that there was more to it, it was all about celebrating, interacting and most important of all, encouraging each of one of us to continue in the promotion of the dignity of the human person.
The fundraising dinner came to an end at around 10 p.m. I for one would like to say a special thank you to all those who have been supporting us this far. For all those who are still supporting us in our endeavors as dignity defenders, all I can say is a big thank you in the hopes that the Almighty God will continue to bless you and the work of your hands. Thank you!
Written by Alice Oddotte, a Batch 2 (2018) regional intern from the WYA Africa office