SA Jarjou

Youth empowerment is a process where children and young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. They do this by addressing their situation and then take action in order to improve their access to resources and transform their consciousness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes.

Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”.

Do you remember as a child being asked the age old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I can remember the answer changing every time someone would ask me. I wanted to be a Journalist, Manager, Nurse, Teacher and a Police Officer. More distinctly, I remember telling my family and friends I wanted to be a President. My mother would smile and say, “Yes Alieu, you can be whatever you want to be through hard work, dedication and devotion for excellence.” Family, friends and my mentor Dr. ABS Taal (May his soul rest in perfect peace) all encouraged me to pursue my career in global development. There are countless number of people who have supported me along the way. I am sure you can also think back to a moment in time when someone believed in you and encouraged you to move in that direction towards realizing your dreams.

The Gambia youth are very talented beyond all human imagination and they should be given the platform and the tools to collaborate and solve problem, brainstorm and reflect in a way that can make The Gambia great. Providing youth with the information and resources necessary for analyzing issues that affect their lives and environments will help them become strong strategizers on ways to act as change agents in their respective communities.

Empowering youth to understand that their voice makes a huge difference in this world and that all ideas are worth exploring will only give them more motivation and fuel to continue strengthening their own power for change for a better Gambia that will one day be the last place of hope on earth.

Over the past several years, I have attended a variety of events led by the United Nations and other organizations. At many youth-focused events there has been one very significant component missing: YOUTH.

Young people need an actual space at the table to share their views, opinions and about the great work they are doing. These lessons are not rocket science. However, you might be surprised at how infrequently these lessons are being utilized by companies, organizations, governments and communities. Let’s all work together to empower young people and pass the torch of leadership on to them.

The last time I checked there are different stages to a project and the first stage is having an idea but there are many stages after that. This will help them understand the full process and not get stuck on one idea.

They should be encouraged to speak about to their triumphs often, to share their victories across all media platforms to reinforce the positive change that has occurred in the New Gambia. This will empower more positive action to continue and give youth more foundation and support to work from for a better Gambia.

Unemployment is soaring and the economy is tanking, but with the help of the private sector and a dose of entrepreneurial flair, young people can forge their futures. The Government should come up with tangible project that will aim at increasing the economic productivity of youth in The Gambia, and improve their livelihoods through sustainable income generating activities.

The project should be involve providing entrepreneurship development and capacity building activities to the youth and women in The Gambia, rehabilitating youth involved in prostitution, drug abuse, armed robbery and preventing others from engaging in such risky behaviors that might sake the peace of The Gambia. Key project activities include cottage industrial skills training and business support.

The Gambia has a big youth population, majority of whom are poor, uneducated and are unemployed. Most of these youth have resorted to drug abuse causing high prevalence rate of mental illnesses. The female youth resort to prostitution as a quick way of earning money for a leaving.

There is an urgent need to initiate a youth-led cottage industry program for the making and selling of bread, fruit juice, detergents, crafts, and other ornaments. Starting a youth-led businesses development program that will see the creation of at list 3000 girl-led businesses. Carryout youth rehabilitation activities for 2000 youths addicted to alcohol, drug abuse, and prostitution. Entrepreneurship training and support activities of 5000 trainees in the country for a start.

To realize the dividend, the Barrow lead administration must invest in the empowerment, education and employment of her young people. There are thousands of young people in The Gambia today, representing a staggering amount of human potential. Yet too many of them are trapped in poverty, with few opportunities to learn or to earn a decent standard living.

Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Political Activist
[email protected]