A week of contrasts at the Africa-Europe Training Course

The 10th Africa-Europe Training Course for Youth Organisations in the Framework of the 6th African University on Youth and Development was held at the end of January 2015.

Representing IFM-SEI and our member youth organisations I travelled half way across the world for an intense training course with other young people from across Europe and Africa. By the end of my time in Nairobi I felt truly inspired and motivated to continue this work and find new opportunities for cooperation!

The training was aimed at building collaboration between African and European youth organisations in order to advance interests of youth across both continents.

Through sharing our realities we were able to challenge the perceptions and stereotypes we had built up about the ‘other’ continent. For example by analysing how the media portrays Africa and Europe in our home countries we realised that we were seeing a very basic and often inaccurate, stereotyped view i.e. that Africa is full of poverty and disease and Europe is full of rich people.
AEYC2 important part of the seminar looked at the challenges faced by young people in our own realities which led to us realising that there are many challenges which we have in common such as lack of quality youth employment and educational opportunities. We also agreed the priorities for youth at the international cooperation level including: youth entrepreneurs, youth leadership, and youth and peace.

The participants all agreed that the field trip to projects set up and run by young people in Nairobi was the most powerful part of the week. For some participants from other African countries and Europe it was particularly shocking to witness the contrasts in wealth and living conditions between the so called ‘slum’ areas and the central richer areas of Nairobi. However it was so inspiring to see young people running amazing projects in difficult circumstances with little outside support.

Africa-Europe2Finally, the highlight of this course was definitely meeting so many passionate and politically engaged young people from all across Europe and Africa and sharing good practice and new ideas. From a personal perspective I was deeply moved by the diversity and mix of experiences and backgrounds of the participants, whether they were young activists from Kenya who had staged an amazing anti-corruption rally or youth workers from Belgium advocating for children’s right to outdoor play spaces……we built a sense of comradeship and unity quickly and I feel sure we shall keep the cooperation going!

Participants came from all over Africa and Europe: Belgium, Bulgaria, Benin, Cameroon, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Madagascar, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Tunisia, UK, and Zambia.