Nothing works at terre des hommes switzerland without young people. Young people are not only our target group, they are also actively involved in our projects. Many of them are connected in the International Youth Network IYN.
Together they stand up for a world-wide culture of tolerance: Young people from Africa, Latin America and Switzerland act freely and self-determined in the International Youth Network (IYN) of terre des hommes switzerland. The network offers young people from our project countries the opportunity to exchange ideas about social issues, methods and activities, to build friendships and to experience mutual solidarity. A current example is Global Action Month (GAM), which took place in November. The campaign of the IYN is organized annually and also last month connected numerous young people from our project countries. Under the slogan "Say No to Violence: Let's Break the Silence," IYN advocated for respect and peaceful coexistence through events, on social media and live on the ground. "With actions like these, local young people contribute to the prevention of violence, collectively raise awareness and thus show solidarity with other regions of the world," says Jeyani Thiyagaraja, our coordinator for the IYN in Switzerland.
Youth engagement united
As part of the GAM, a meeting was also held at terre des hommes schweiz in Basel, to which the members of the IYN of Terre des Hommes Suisse traveled from Geneva. Together, the young people spent two days with a varied program: After a city tour on the topic of "violence prevention", the participants* took part in a workshop. They met with young people from terre des hommes switzerland projects and visited the imagine film festival together. Furthermore, a training on the topic of "Youth participation - participation and involvement of young people in projects" was offered, which met with great interest. At this meeting, it once again became clear that when it comes to the rights and interests of young people, it is crucial for success that the target group itself is involved. Only when young people are taken seriously as actors will their self-confidence be strengthened.
Across the national borders, there is a regular exchange of the international delegates of the IYN: They meet at least once a month for a video call with live translation. There they exchange information about the current situation in their countries and their commitment. Together, the international delegates organize the online communication in the social media towards the outside world. The theme for Global Action Month is also discussed and determined each year together with the young people in an international exchange. The youth network is growing: Next year, two more project countries, South Africa and El Salvador, will join the IYN.
Author: Valerie Wendenburg, Media and Communication at terre des hommes switzerland