Harnessing the Creativity and Power of Youth

Harnessing the Creativity and Power of Youth

More than 1.5 billion of the world's people are between the ages of 10 and 25, and the majority of them live in the developing world. More than half of these young people live in poverty. We have the largest generation of adolescents in world history. And, as the world financial crisis deepens and extends poverty in the developing world, young people are finding it ever more difficult to enter the workforce or get involved in some form of sustainable livelihood.

The World Bank reports that Africa's 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 60 percent of the region's unemployed (December 2008). There is a similar problem in South Asia. Employing our youth, whether in the formal or informal sector, is key to overcoming hunger and poverty and ensuring peace and stability.

The Hunger Project (THP) believes in harnessing the creativity, energy and power of these young women and men. Youth leaders are already overcoming enormous obstacles to better their communities and their world.

Below are some inspiring stories of actions taken by young people throughout the world.

Youth Ending Hunger in Bangladesh

THP-Bangladesh mobilizes students across the country under the banner, Youth Ending Hunger (YEH) to unleash their leadership and creative thinking, as well as to develop a sense of social responsibility. Thousands of students are members of this forum. In late May, YEH held a day-long workshop, "National Budget and Thoughts of Youths," in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign. Participants included students from throughout Bangladesh, the Minister for Youth and Sports, two members of parliament, the noted economist Prof. Anisur Rahman, and several UNDP officials. The recommendations of the workshop will be sent to relevant government ministries and departments. Read about YEH's National Youth Conference (December 2008).

Youth Health Clubs in Uganda

THP animators and schools in Mbale Epicenter forged a strong partnership to form "youth health clubs" that address issues of hygiene, sanitation and HIV/AIDS. THP used film showings as one of the methods for information dissemination to our young partners, since people learn faster with visual aids.

Promoting Youth Leadership in Mexico

“No matter our age, we are agents of change for a better world, where hunger will not exist.” - Juan Antonio Ramírez, student leader

THP-Mexico partners with students of the Monterrey Institute of Technology, one of Mexico's finest universities. Students work with village women to support small businesses through the Social Enterprise Incubator. The partnership, which began with 11 students has grown to include 80 students working with over 200 women entrepreneurs to legally incorporate enterprises and assist in financial and legal trainings.

Connecting Youth and Elected Women Representatives in India

In 2008, THP-India created groups of energetic youths at the panchayat (village council) level in Rajasthan to assist the elected women representatives (EWRs) in carrying out their official, daily responsibilities. The most important objective of this program is to put in place a cadre of select youth ages 16-30, of whom 60 percent would constitute the young women of the village. THP-India believes that female youth will be instrumental in getting women into the election processes and helping the EWRs take on future challenges. Read more.

Turning Pennies into Grants

"I want people out there to know that even children can give back." - Jazmin Hawes (5th grader), P.S. 1, Manhattan Penny Harvest Roundtable

Three student "roundtables" in New York City schools have invested a total of US$1,100 in THP. These primary school students participate in Penny Harvest, an innovative program that instills in young people the idea that they can make the world a better place through their philanthropy. Children collect pennies and turn those pennies into grants for community organizations. These New York City children decided to support our work because they were inspired by our approach and success in helping women, men, girls and boys create healthy futures, free from hunger and full of opportunity. (Photo: Emma, Katrina and Casey of Penny CAKES roundtable with THP staff member Anastasia Andrzejewski at P.S. 144 Queens, New York)

Read more about how you can be involved with Penny Harvest and other such activities.

THP Board Member Reaches Out to Youth

THP Global Board Member and former Vice President of Uganda, H.E. Dr. Speciosa Wandira, toured Australia in May to speak about African women, leadership and THP. Her trip included a visit to Lauriston Girls' School in Melbourne, where the girls have invested in THP's work for the last four years, raising funds from cross-country athletic events. Speciosa urged the girls never to give up on their education. She encouraged them to follow their dreams, be fearless in expressing their emotions, and remember their sisters in Africa, who are strengthened and empowered by friends across national borders. (Photo: Lauriston Principal Meg Hanson and Dr. Speciosa Wandira)

During her trip, Speciosa also spoke to a group of 200 high school girls at the Ascham School and a Night Cap Panel with a group of youth leaders at the Future Summit 2009 in Melbourne.

FeelGood - Ending World Hunger One Grilled Cheese at a Time

FeelGood was started in 2004 on the University of Texas campus as a grassroots effort to help provide solutions for an end to global hunger. Five students, led by Kristin Walter, had the idea to distribute gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in return for a donation, with all proceeds going to The Hunger Project. It was a simple concept: free grilled cheese with a message about world hunger, combined with hungry and socially passionate students equals resources and a will to end world hunger.In the beginning they started with one George Foreman grill and managed to raise $10,000 in six months. Now they are looking to expand to every campus in the United States. Visit their website.

THP Interns Contribute Time and Talent

Volunteer interns, from high school students to doctoral candidates, contribute immense talent, time, energy and enthusiasm to the work of THP. Our interns have been working to develop partnerships with like-minded organizations, document our programs, contribute to our social media strategy, create content for our public websites, assist in fundraising research, and more. Not only do we benefit from the amazing dedication of these students, we are also building quite a strong base of young THP alumni. Former interns frequently keep in touch and volunteer to help with our annual fundraising event in New York, from as far away as Germany! (Photo: THP Intern Alumni at our 2006 Fall Event)

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(Top Photo: Young THP partner in Bangladesh who works in a women's cooperative that creates and sells textiles.)