Young people as change agents for DRR

In another evaluation, I had a group of out of school youth, college drop outs, as participants in an FGD. It was a few months after Typhoon Megi. We were on the subject of what they did for DRR in their community. They said that even before the disaster brought by Typhoon Megi, they wanted to be volunteers in their village, frequently visiting the village hall for some information but every time they went the hall was closed. Moreover, there were no information posted outside the hall – “nothing about what’s happening in the village”. In the aftermath of the typhoon, they visited the village hall and saw the adults packing relief goods. As their assistance was not sought, they left.

Disaster or not, this is the general regard adults (at least in the villages I’ve been in in a decade of development work) have toward children and young people. In this case, young people were desirous to engage in the public realm of their community but the failure of adults to recognize that desire and invite them in and provide information as to how young people can participate served to put children and young people “in their place”. Because they are pushed out of the heart of the community, young people – school drop outs – edge out toward the streets and dark places. And then we call them marginalized, vulnerable, addicts, good for nothing.


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