Youth Hold the Keys to a Brighter Future

Young people from Mali, the Philippines, and Indonesia make the most of skills and opportunity

Opportunity awaits the 1.8 billion youth around the world, but many who are living with poverty and conflict face obstacles to pursuing their goals. Helping young people reach their full potential begins with promoting workforce skills, healthy decision making, and education.

“The future is brightest when young people have both the tools and the opportunity to build meaningful lives,” says EDC’s Melanie Sany.

Sany has seen this firsthand working with youth in EDC’s Akazi Kanoze youth livelihoods project in Rwanda. Breaking down economic and civic barriers empower disadvantaged youth to pursue their goals, she says. And the critical thinking skills embedded in the workforce training? Those are essential for a brighter future, too.

“It is important to learn a trade, but it’s equally important that young people learn to be problem solvers, in charge of their own futures,” she says. 

Stephen, Halima, and Jean Bosco are three young people who have participated in EDC’s international youth programs. To commemorate International Youth Day, on August 12, we present their stories. Read what they have to say about their hopes for the future.

Aware of opportunties

Stephen Amenia Jordan is like many other 17-year-olds in Jakarta, Indonesia—he dreams of a prosperous future. His parents share that hope for him, too.

But Stephen is not just sitting back and waiting for the future to come to him. He has enrolled in a local technical vocational education and training school to gain the engineering skills he needs to land a steady job. And thanks to his school’s participation in EDC’s Accelerated Work Achievement and Readiness for Employment (AWARE) project, which links employers and vocational institutions, Stephen has already gained essential work experience at the city’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.

“My friends and I who joined the AWARE project are lucky that we received the training,” says Stephen. “We were able to adapt, understand responsibilities, learn to follow hotel procedures, and communicate with various parties in the hotel.”

Halima Salim, a participant in EDC's MYDev program, speaks at a summit for out-of-school youth.

From conflict to career

In the Philippines, Halima Sahim watched her older siblings go to school while she stayed home to care for her younger brother and sister. Living in the conflict-affected region of Mindanao, formal education seemed a far-off dream to her.

Then she found the Mindanao Youth Development (MYDev) project. Through the workforce development training offered by MYDev, Halima became a welder—an uncommon profession for many women in the Philippines—and she was one of the best in her class.

Now Halima serves as an inspiration to many other at-risk youth, especially young women. But she is just one of the thousands of young people in Mindanao who have gotten workforce development training through MYDev.

Jean Bosco Bizimana used his workforce training to help children in his community.

Feeding the future

With a background in nursing, Jean Bosco Bizimana saw a critical need to help children suffering from malnutrition in his native Rwanda. His solution? Create Panovita, a grain milling company that makes healthy porridge from locally sourced soybeans and maize.

But building a business is fraught with challenges, and when Bizimana encountered his first real obstacle, he called upon the work-readiness training he received from EDC’s Akazi Kanoze Youth Livelihoods project.

Bizimana needed moisture-proof bags to store and ship his food. He first considered buying them from China, but they were expensive. Akazi Kanoze training taught him to look for solutions around him. And when he did, he found a simpler and lower-cost option locally.

“When you meet a problem, you try to find solutions by using the opportunities you have around you,” he says.