Youth2Youth: Help by young people, for young people

Logo for Youth2Youth
HIV/Aids has drastically changed the social structures in southern Africa. Following the loss of their parents, many children and young people have to take on responsibility for themselves and their siblings. The regional training programme "Youth2Youth" is aimed at young people who want to help children and people of their own age to develop skills they already have.
The Aids epidemic in Africa has made millions of children orphans. Often, young people who have had to deal with the loss of their relatives develop a special empathy for people of their own age in the same situation. Many times, it is they who are the first to become aware of cases of abuse and seek help.
Many organisations have recognised how important it is to involve young people in their projects. Normally, however, this is limited to a short training course about overcoming trauma or how to earn an income or prevent HIV/Aids. However, the young people do not receive the long-term support they need in putting what they have learnt into practice.

Children and young people are not the problem but part of the solution
terre des hommes schweiz has worked with the internationally respected child psychiatrist and expert in solution-focused approaches, Therese Steiner, to develop the "Youth2Youth" training programme. Solution-focused working means putting the focus on people's strengths and not on their problems. It means always asking what someone is good at and gradually building on these strengths. There is no magic formula, but rather it is a matter of finding out what the people concerned really want and are able to do themselves. Only they can set themselves objectives, which should be as concrete, measurable and relevant as possible, and able to be achieved in small steps. They are helped and supported by expert advisers in finding and working on these objectives.

"Youth2Youth": Training in theory…
The "Youth2Youth" training programme takes place in three modules, spread out over a year. The participants on the course practise solution-focused working. They learn how to do what they have already been doing for a long time - but more effectively and sustainably: Helping young people to get a roof over their heads, making sure they have enough food, talking to people of their age about preventing HIV/Aids and motivating those who have left school to return.
The people on the course are taught to become trainers and multipliers. The training enables the young people, who have been selected by their organisations and already have practical experience of working with people of their age, to extend their knowledge and learn more with the help of experts. They also learn how to organise themselves, how to express their concerns better to adults and how to make their ideas happen, themselves.

… and practice
Supported by a coaching service that terre des hommes schweiz provides throughout the training, the young participants on the course run their own project for their organisation. This is designed to try out participation by children and young people in practice, and it gives them the opportunity to interact with trainees from other countries and other projects in the region. Between the course modules, the participants have to run workshops for their colleagues and youth groups and accomplish a project with solution-focused aspects.

Looking back, looking forward
terre des hommes schweiz designed the "Youth2Youth" training programme, organises it and is continuously developing it further in the light of specific problems faced by the participants.
The first pilot course ended in May 2009 in South Africa, when 20 young people received a certificate recognising them as users of the solution-focused approach.
Thanks to this certificate, five young people found paid jobs immediately after completing the course. The same year, courses began with partner organisations in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Now this universal concept has found its way to Central America. In August of this year, a further 20 young people completed the "Youth2Youth" course in Nicaragua.
A boy painted his hand to draw his body map

Youth2Youth in Central America

Youth2Youth in Nicaragua - The success story has arrived in Central America

In southern Africa, the Youth2Youth model has been used successfully since 2008. In July 2012 the first young people from Central America completed the first Youth2Youth course in Nicaragua.