Diving in the youth work experience: rediscovering the value and need for youth work
Egidio Lourino Simbine
Egidio is from Mozambique and is on a commonwealth fellowship visiting the National Youth Agency.
We grow up knowing that “behind a great man there is a great woman”. Recently, during my commonwealth fellowship I discovered that “behind a great young man there is a great youth worker”. Coming from a more practical and natural way of doing and seeing youth work, this fellowship was a good way to reinterpret and rediscover what youth work is about.
Samora Moises Machel, the first President of Mozambique, once said “youth are the sap of the nation”; there is no doubt that for many countries young people are the future and also the present. Working with and for young people it is quite easy to see the value of this wisdom. However, it is surprising how for some people and even for some governments the work done by this group of professionals (youth workers) is undermined. It can be seen through severe budget cuts from the sector and the allegation that the work of the sector is not tangible or measureable. But with more attention and time to interact with the people that pass through the hands of these professionals we can actually see and feel the significance of how their work helps many young people to succeed in life and to make a good contribution to a better society.
Meeting and seeing the commitment of the National Youth Agency staff trying to raise the flag of youth work higher, it was initially difficult to understand why they were doing it. I took my time, sat with young people and visited youth programmes and projects that helped transform me into a Pro-Youth Worker Supporter. When I went out and saw some of the projects that are being implemented I could clearly see the need for youth workers in almost all sectors of the society. If we really want young people to lead and achieve more than other generations, there is a definite need to invest in the people who help young people make a smooth and effective transition to adulthood.
In the projects I visited, I could feel, touch and even smell the actions and impact of youth workers. I could see patients at hospital acting like they were not finding life hard; I could see young people facing their fears, challenging themselves and getting out of their comfort zone, I could see young people changing the perception adults have about them through spectacular interventions they have in their local communities by social projects. But all this was possible because someone was there to support and with them transform their reality. That was the Youth Worker.