A community organizer based in Cameroon, Nancy Saiboh has disclosed that she registered her Civil Society Organisation after attending the Youth Organizing School (YOS) in 2019, saying she returned to her country and applied all the knowledge gained from the annual organizing and advocacy program.
Nancy revealed this at the ongoing annual YOS organized by Yiaga Africa, where she spoke to this year’s participants of the school which is reputed for developing community organizers and policy advocates.
She said, “YOS 2019 was a turning point in my career and for me as a leader. YOS changed the way I see myself. As a leader that can contribute to my community, I now run campaigns and carry out advocacy efforts in my country, Cameroon, because I understand my purpose. I took time to understand my purpose and reorganized the strength I have to help build my community”.
She urged the 2021 YOS cohort to take the school seriously and act on it, saying, “it is not a coincidence that you are here – you are at the right place.”
In her own testimony, Olanike Uge, YOS Alumni 2017 said she came to YOS open to learning, and she got more than expected. According to her, what stood out was the storytelling, leadership models and how to convert the resources available to an organizer into power.
“The resources received from YOS enabled me to register my CSO in 2018 and it made the development of my mission and vision much easier. Under 12 months of full operation, we got mini-grants from International organizations including ActionAid Nigeria and Ford Foundation. This is because we were able to organize effectively as we learnt that before causing social change, you must be able to organize”, she said. She further urged the cohort to be open to learning while building valuable relationships in order to learn from one another.
Another beneficiary of the program, Maureen Tare Amanana from Bayelsa state said that her experience at the YOS 2017 turned her advocacy and activism around. According to her, YOS built her capacity and helped her with the right tools for community organizing and engagement.
She said, “Now, I have built a network of young people in my state and I am now a better leader while leading a series of engagements around democracy, governance and development”.
Another alumni, Naufal Ahmad revealed that attending YOS opened his eyes to a lot of possibilities, gave him a lot of courage, built his confidence and introduced him to a lot of skills and experiences needed to maximize the impact of what he is doing.
He said, “After graduating from YOS, I was able to put what I learnt into good use including helping to get the Not Too Young To Run Bill passed into law in my state, Katsina. I was also able to build the capacity of other young people by practising the training I got from YOS. It made me a local act to be reckoned with. I was also invited to join the CSO coalition in Katsina state.”
He added that his engagements after YOS enabled him to join the Katsina State Government as a focal person for youth investment to enable young people get economic and political inclusion. Naufal also urged the 2021 cohort to learn, make the best of knowledge, take action and build networks.
In her welcome remarks, Yiaga Africa’s Director of Programs Cynthia Mbamalu said that the organization believes in building movement and investing in community as historical events such as the struggle for independence have revealed that movement building has never been about individuality, but collectivity and interconnection of different sectors of the society, across generations and borders.
According to her, “to demand for social transformation, we cannot engage from a single person approach but as a movement”. She said the YOS will expose participants to organising for social change and how young people can influence conversations around elections and take leadership.
“At the YOS, we will approach leadership as a practice that everyone has been blessed with specific potentials to provide leadership at different points in time within their community. We believe organizing is about action. We cannot just complain or get frustrated or angry without doing anything, as taking action is what makes you different.” she said
Speaking during the introductory session of the 2021 YOS, Head of Governance and Development, Ibrahim Faruk said, over 240 young women and men from across Nigeria and six different African countries have benefitted from this program. “We are proud of the change they are making in their communities,” he said.
The Youth Organizing School (YOS) was established eight years ago to build a new generation of community organizers across Nigeria and West Africa with the capacity to drive social change and transformation. The School combines the theory and practice of organizing in building the capacity of young activists, youth organizations and young leaders.
Every year, with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Yiaga Africa plays host to 35 to 40 entry level community organizers and young leaders who receive training on direct action organizing, leadership, policy advocacy, non-violent change, storytelling and public narrative, coalition building, community mobilization, and digital organizing.
See Youth Organizing School 2021 Cohort HERE