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Food & Hunger

Why We Need to Inspire Young People to Help Change the World

This article was written by Jill Zieske, World Vision’s HungerFree.


“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question many of us learned to answer at a young age. Ballerina, pilot, firefighter, were common answers my preschool friends gave.

As I got older this question started to stump me. Really what people are asking is, “What do you want to DO to make money when you’re legally able to?” Because really what I want to BE is passionate, kind, brave and not afraid to change injustices in the world. And the reality is, I don’t have to wait to be an “adult” (what does that even mean anyway?) to do this.

Youth all over the world are not waiting to grow up to discover and live into their strong voices, and this deserves to be encouraged and celebrated. This is why International Youth Day on August 12 is one of my favorite days recognized by the UN.

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In July, I had the privilege to travel with to Bamba in the Kilifi region of Kenya, where World Vision is empowering families and communities to become hungerfree. There we met a group of young people who are stirring up change in their community with the help of World Vision. The Bamba Youth Group is combining their love for acting with an organized approach to community advocacy. They perform skits that inform and challenge issues experienced by the community, like promoting nutritious food choices, correcting stereotypes of AIDS, exposing the devastating effects of alcoholism, and demonstrating the power education in creating brighter futures.

And these skits are working! Their community is asking questions, taking action, and advocating for government changes. This is an example of what happens when we invest in and encourage driven youth to become active citizens, and why World Vision Kenya is helping equip the Bamba Youth Group with educational and advocacy resources.

“The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production” is the UN’s theme for this year’s International Youth Day. When we equip youth with resources, encouragement, and goals that empower, we’re planting seeds for a better future. It’s the only way in which eradicating poverty and seeing a hungerfree world is possible.

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As we interacted with the Bamba community, I imagine that children in the community look up to the Bamba Youth Group. That maybe when someone asked what they wanted to be they grew up they’d say, “I want to create change like the Bamba Youth Group.”

These youth aren’t done making a difference. In the Kilifi region, we will be building upon both their work and the work World Vision is doing to alleviate hunger and  invest in young people by piloting our first HungerFree Youth Empowerment Programme. This will integrate youth skills training with traditional forms of food assistance and agriculture production, investing in technical and vocational skills that make young people employable, but also basic skills, such as functional, financial and digital literacy; life skills related to social and emotional intelligence; and access to capital and relational support so that they are empowered to be hungerfree and sustain a living.

As we celebrate International Youth Day today, August 12, encourage the youth in your life to use their voices for change. Because we need them to make a hungerfree World.