The Maldivian Red Crescent yesterday evening concluded a week-long youth training camp designed to encourage young people to take a greater leadership role in society.
“In Maldives, the youth, those youngsters brimming with energy and enthusiasm at the age of 18 – 35 years take up at least 33 percent of the population,” said Secretary General of Maldivian Red Crescent Mr Abdul Razak Ibrahim.
“While this high percentage can be seen as a wealth, it poses certain challenges for the Maldivian society in terms of social services delivery, employment, urbanization and other developments directly related to youth.”
This week’s camp pioneered the International Federation of Red Crescent’s (IFRC) ‘Youth As Agents of Behavioural Change’ (YABC) programme in the Maldives, bringing 30 young people from across the atolls to Bandos Island Resort in order to develop skills that can benefit local communities.
The programme was borne from the IFRC’s strategy of focusing on non-violence, diversity, non-discrimination, mutual understanding and dialogue explained Razak.
Participants in the programme were taught how to cope with peer pressure and how to handle stressful situations with empathy and compassion.
Those trained will now be expected to return to their communities, and their respective Red Crescent branches, to pass on their new skills as peer educators.
During his speech yesterday, the secretary general highlighted the problems that unemployment, drugs, and family breakdown were having on society – and on the youth in particular.
Around 40 percent of young women, and 20 percent of young men are out of work in the country, while 46 percent of drug users in the country were aged between 16 and 25, he noted.
“Though this may not be the most becoming sentiments to express in an occasion where I have to be optimistic, I do have grave concerns for the youth of Maldives,” said Razak.
“Further, there are very few avenues and forums where youth can be involved in decision making, especially within the atolls. This is one reason why I have hopes for this 7-day training programme of YABC educators which I expect will help to catalyze youth to think more deeply in their decision making,” he added.
Yesterday’s closing ceremony included demonstrations of the skills developed from the camp’s participants, as well as individual accounts of the week’s training.
“The last seven days have been absolutely electrifying for all of us and have helped us a lot in knowing ourselves better and in finding inner peace,” explained camper Mariyam Maaha Madheeh.
“The YABC has helped in various ways and has helped us to do better and do be better. It has been a huge eye-opener and has taught us how we can bring the change the world needs,” she added.
The ceremony was also attended by Minister of State for Education Mr Adam Shareef Umar.
The current government’s youth policies have focused on discussion of a ‘Youth city’ in Hulhumalé, while the Home Ministry has organised its own police-run youth camps.
Home Minister Umar Naseer has also posited the idea of mandatory government service for school leavers in order to instill discipline into the nation’s young people.
The Red Cross/Red Crescent movement was first introduced to the people of the Maldives in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami which displace around 10 percent of the population.
After helping local communities overcome the disaster, the Maldives’ own branch of the organisation was established in 2009 and has since established 10 branches across the atolls.
The Maldives Red Crescent’s Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015 encompasses disaster management, health and social care, youth, and institutional development as the main strategic directions for the coming years.