Why I changed my mind and joined WYA: An unexpected journey of an 18 year old :)

furaha camp 2015 photo

We all know that opportunities come and go, some come and stay, some never even show up.

My dad told me jokingly that he wants me to join an organization that engages with the youth. I really had a negative attitude towards the idea because I had already put in mind that, immediately I step out of the school gate knowing that I have finished my high school studies, I would join a college or university with my mock results, and do a minor course, as I awaited for my results. I really did not see the importance of joining an organization because I knew at only 18 years old; I am too young for that.

After one week, I asked my dad for the name of the organization and he gave it to me immediately. He looked happy when I asked for it because he knew it was something that was to change some thoughts and perspectives I have concerning the youth and other important matters. I googled World Youth Alliance and from the minute I started reading about what this organization is and what it really does, I had this strong positive attitude towards it and also myself. Promoting and valuing the intrinsic human dignity and explaining what it exactly is among the youth in developed and developing counties, made me more eager to know more about the organization. Knowing that there actually exists an organization, or body that is really concerned about the youth made me think twice and say, “You know what, this isn’t bad after all. I really should try this!” that’s when the journey to change my mind begun.

I kept on reading and came across the summer camps and luckily, there was one on its way! The 2014 Furaha Camp was held in Nairobi Kenya last November. I asked my dad if I could go for the camp and he willingly agreed with me. I attended the camp, and what I came across in the camp was mind blowing. We got to learn more on human dignity, about the organization, I met new people, and I met the WYA staff and interns too. The guest speakers who were invited inspired me a lot and made me open up my mind to some of the things that I really could not stand listening, like the human rights and why they are there.

After the camp, I really wanted to be a member of the organization and immediately, I did. In 2015, the year I was finishing high school, there was a Furaha camp that was in the coast and I really did not want to miss it.

Before I joined the camp, I tried my best convincing my parents to give me the chance to attend the camp and at last, they agreed and I joined the others for the camp. What an experience I had at the camp! Culture was what I saw being valued in the coast and indeed, it was something so nice. We visited a children’s home and had an awesome time with the kids. We had chance to see the importance of love and care portrayed by the owner of the home and also the people who were given the responsibility to take care of the children.

After the camp, the feeling of wanting to engage more with WYA built up in me and I said why not try and apply for the Regional Internship Program that was to begin the following year, 2016.

With the help of my parents, I filled the forms and hoped for the best. After the camp, I got home and was given the good news by my parents that I had qualified for the internship.

I was happy and contented with what I was going to do during the internship.

Finally, 2016 hit the clock and on January 18th, I was at Cara house, in Karen, Nairobi, ready to begin this fruitful journey. Humility, love, care and respect for everyone are some of the values that I have had a chance to know and learn during my internship here at WYA Africa and I am still learning more, from the projects and discussions we do in the office. I have also had a chance to share some of my perspectives about some issues arising in countries about the youth like abortion, and I have come to realize that human dignity is a part of why it is being discouraged. As I continue this internship, I know by the end of this batch I would have come out a completely different 18 year old girl, who will go out there and share all that she has learnt and acquired, to those who were like me, at first, and hope to see a big change in them.

Written by Bonniebell Nyagaka, a current intern at the WYA Africa office in Kenya.