Recently, AYANA had the opportunity to partner with the Centre for Livelihoods and Support to Sustainable Development (CLISSD) to initiate our first Youth Innovation Lab in the country of Cameroon!
Our Youth Innovation Labs focus on empowering students to develop skills in ideating solutions for their local communities while using the design thinking process. In Cameroon, over 500 students were taught the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to demonstrate the plausibility for the youth to create achievable solutions for their communities.
About 100 interested students in the advocacies then participated in AYANA’s three day workshop. Students had the opportunity to gain greater insight in the significance of SDGs, and their significance for their communities. Youth 12-25 years old were given new skills to solve real problems in their local area.
After the workshop, a participant explained, “Thanks to the AYANA workshop, today I know all the 17 goals and also can no longer wait for the government to solve problems in my village, I am going to start solving problems.”
Through our Youth Innovation Lab, students discussed many issues present in their community: lack of menstrual hygiene products, limited educational resources, poverty, hygiene/ sanitation issues, and high rate of infant mortality. By the end of the workshop, students developed their own ideas and plans to execute their projects. The Youth Innovation Lab opened up new possibilities for the youth, and exemplified that they do have the potential to create tangible change.
As one 13 year old student said, “This program is empowering because I also wanted to help people in my community who are old and poor, but I did not know how to go about it or raise funds. I thought I needed to have an organization first, before helping people. But after this program in school, I will start small [and] involve other friends to help old people repair their homes.”
Special thanks to Majorie Eyabi, Toufic Olabi, and CLISSD volunteers for making this Youth Innovation Lab possible in Cameroon. We are looking forward to continuing to expand our initiative to other countries in the near future.