Awassa Youth Campus

Article with photos, in PDF (Spanish)

The Awassa Youth Campus (AYC), a registered Ethiopian NGO, is a safe multidisciplinary learning environment for youth in Awassa, Ethiopia. AYC activities are designed to compliment the formal education in schools by providing constructive, creative and expressive outlets for youth. AYC supports youth in developing and implementing youth-driven HIV/AIDS awareness raising campaigns in the community, throughout Ethiopia and beyond! The major components of the AYC model are the Aikido Peace Dojo, the In-Campus Activities and Outreach Programs. Finally, as a creative workspace AYC is an invaluable resource, providing the tools, environment and encouragement necessary for youth to develop their fullpotential.
Maria Montessori wrote “If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the construction of man, and so of society.” AYC recognizes the potential of youth and supports this historic role. The impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic alone has left devastating population statistics in its wake. Currently, 44.6% of the population in Ethiopia is aged 14 or younger, making the average age 17. In the foreseeable future, children and youth will account for an overwhelming majority of the population in Ethiopia.
Furthermore, Ethiopian youth will assume the burden associated with inheriting one of the “poorest” nations in the world. While Ethiopia is by no means poor in regards to its culture, beauty and strength, socio-economic challenges and the impact of HIV/AIDS coupled with growing global inequality has compromised the ability for positive social change. Aside from posing life-threatening challenges, the complex situation often results in feelings of hopelessness and frustration amongst the individuals who are the future of Ethiopia; youth.
Formal and Non-formal educational institutions must support youth. Unfortunately, in Ethiopia many schools are overburdened with the task of providing basic education, thus, often failing to engage students. Education that fails to engage youth may exacerbate feelings of apathy. Therefore, Ethiopian youth require engaging learning environments that promote a generation equipped with leadership skills, knowledge and ingenuity necessary to overcome the multitude of foreign and domestic challenges that lie ahead of them.
In order to support Ethiopia’s next generation in this monumental task, AYC aims to provide a stimulating and nurturing environment that encourages youth to develop their potential as individuals as well as creatively collaborate in order to raise awareness on issues (i.e. HIV/AIDS) that threaten daily life as well as the future of their country. AYC is open, and free, to all interested youth which means in contrast to majority of development efforts AYC does not actively “target” specific youth (i.e. orphans, vulnerable children, etc.). However, AYC participants represent children and youth from all walks of life in Ethiopia. In short, we believe youth who need AYC will find AYC. In addition, AYC Outreach Programs aim to promote AYC activities (and approach) in the wider community (i.e. public places, community organizations, schools, etc.) through providing workshops and events.
Above all, AYC supports an active and aware youth culture through the promotion of creativity, physical activity, self-directed learning and critical thinking. Fueled by the imagination and hearts of a generation AYC is unique in its vision, mission and overall approach. AYC strives to provide a refreshing breath of air in the stagnant world of International Aid characterized by programs that do little more than maintain the status quo. Simply, the status quo will no suffice for today’s youth, or tomorrow’s future. AYC is truly a work-in-progress and we appreciate your support in this endeavor. One Fight, One Love.

Website: The Awassa Youth Campus (AYC)

Javier Acebal

About the author: Javier Acebal

I'm a photographer based in Dakar (West Africa). I love to document cultures and people! (but also working for tourism industry).

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