End of the Year story by YA Zambia
So we’ve come to the end of 2016, and the end of our first three months in Zambia. At the start of the year we had a pretty good idea of where we would be by now. Our plans have mostly come to fruition, albeit slower than we would have liked. 2016 in general wasn’t the most positive year globally; politically and culturally it is widely considered a bad year, one that would do well to be ignored in the history books. But for us, we have so-far luckily managed to work unaffected and positively.

Young Africa Zambia’s achievements in 2016 have been mostly administrative; employments visas granted, organisation registered as a legal entity, board members recruited, start-up office located. These may not seem like very exciting developments, but considering that the organisation was a mere twinkle in the eye of YA International this time last year, we would say it’s been a pretty epic year. We’ve also had a successful experience of networking in our first months, meeting other youth organisations, particularly those engaged in development through arts and sports. It is clear to us that there is space for YA Zambia to work, and to form strong and beneficial partnerships with these experts. We have chosen the capital city Lusaka to start off as it provides essential connections and resources needed at this phase of development. However, it is clear that a longer-term plan for YA Zambia could include many other rural and urban areas of this large country.

The most important thing about 2016 has been the position its put us in for 2017. We have been developing a great partnership with the Computer Society of Zimbabwe, with whom we want to work to bring ICDL-accredited computer training to our young people. ICDL, the International Computer Driving Licence, is an internationally-recognised qualification for IT users, and coupled with YA’s Life Skills and Entrepreneurship training, will form the first Integral Youth Empowerment Programme to be delivered in Zambia.

Our achievements have been great, but so have our challenges. As it often the way, our financial situation has been challenging, with Lusaka proving to be a surprisingly expensive city to get started in. We have been so lucky to have had some great support from Ireland, through our long-standing partner SERVE and the local football team Sallypark FC, whose combined donations have sent us in the right direction. We need help like this to keep the engine running and to get programmes started as soon as possible. Hopefully 2017 will bring more much-needed resources for working with Zambian youth.

On a personal level, 2016 has been pretty crazy for both of us. Committing to starting up a new Young Africa branch in Zambia has required a lot of thought and risk. We had the benefit of time in Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe with YA International and the training centres there. This gave us solid training and foundations on which to build our longer-term plans for Young Africa Zambia. We have also had enlightening and refreshing conversations with Jelena and Maarten of YA Botswana, who are at a similar phase to us in their start-up plans. It is certainly less challenging to build programmes from the ground-up when you have the comprehensive and successful blueprint that we have.

We’d like to thank all our supporters, families, friends, and the wider Young Africa family for contributing to a great 2016 for YA Zambia. Here’s to an even greater 2017.

Mark and Lindsay, Young Africa Zambia

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