#16Days: Elly Ahimidiwe on youth participation & behaviour change

For #16DaysofActivism, we've been shining a spotlight on inspirational youth activists worldwide. Francis from Youth For Change Tanzania met with Elly Ahimidiwe from Tanzania Youth Vision Association to hear his story...

I met Elly for the first time back in 2012. This is the time when I decided to join Tanzania Youth Vision Association (TYVA) with the aim of meeting other young people in the country specifically youths activists. TYVA is a youth led organization dedicated toward promoting empowerment and self-realization of young people through awareness raising, capacity building and networking programs which are youth centered, gender sensitive environmental friendly and readily accessible to vulnerable youth.

Elly has been working for the organization for more than 7 years and he was elected as National Chairman for the organization in 2012-2014 due to his dedication to the organization.  I was very new in the whole issue of activism then - I met him as a National Chairman of TYVA talking boldly about the organization and youth activism in general. I was inspired to see what fellow youths were doing towards advocating and campaigning for their rights to be heard by the government.

I caught up with Elly to to talk about his engagement with young people and activism in general. This is how it went…

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I have been volunteering in a number of youth-led organization but I have been with TYVA for quite a long time, almost 8 years, now working with young people in advocacy and campaign issues - specifically policy advocacy issues in the areas of employment, education and food security. I have been working with TYVA as members and elected at one point as a national leader for TYYA Tanzania chairman.

How did you become involved in activism?

I believe for someone to have a passion in a certain field he must have a role model. For me, I was motivated by my friends who were volunteering in youth-led organizations and activism issues. I decided to  follow them to see what they have been doing, and I found that I really liked what I saw!

I found myself becoming more and more interested in fighting for the rights of young people and getting their voices to be heard by the policy makers – this was how I ended up working in youth programs and activism more generally. As a young activist I have not directly dealt with girls rights but I believe that what we have doing at TYVA, our programs, approaches and trainings have been directly and positively in favor of girls’ rights.

 Tell us more about your work

My specific areas of interest have been behavior change, in the sense that young people need to change their mindset and focus more on important issues that affect their daily life. As an activist I’ve been conducting behavioral change training to members of the TYVA and many other young people because I believe that change begins from the mind and if we change our mindset we will change our behavior and eventually our society.

Why is it important to involve young people in activism?

Activism needs creative, unique and motivated young people. Youth are more passionate and want to see changes in the issues important to them - young people are tireless until they see the changes occurring and policymakers taking notice.

What’s the one thing decision makers could do to support your work?

One of the things that are important for the government to do is to engage young people in key matters which are affecting them. The government should consult to hear youth voice first, before they come up with policies that are denying our rights. We want the government to involve young people straight from grassroots level up to top level of decision making.

Anything you would like to add?

Every young person should be an activist in his/her own way, by doing so one can meet, network and learn from experienced people in any field. Through activism and campaigning, youth can broadcast their voices and government can hear our cry!

Read the rest of our #16Days series here.