What is the Youth Ambassadors’ Initiatve?
The Youth Ambassadors’ Initiative is an exchange program originating in Africa that enables young people to address similar issues in different contexts. Three young people from various regions are brought together to be immersed in local communities in a different country.
For example a young person from Zimbabwe working in community health, a Nigerian peer educator and a Congolese Salvationist with an interest in HIV/AIDS management and health-related community development could be placed at Chikankata Hospital in Zambia, to work together for a three-month period. The hope is that through experience and relationship the three visiting team members will further develop their leadership skills, gain vision and direction, and increase their ability to respond to HIV/AIDS and other issues within their own communities.
Young leaders possess natural drive and energy and through the Youth Ambassadors’ Initiative they will be able to share their authentic experience and practical skills with each other. Hosting communities benefit from the excitement and experience of the YAI teams, while also challenging them to branch out in areas they may not be familiar with.
The Salvation Army has a passion for the development of young leaders, and the Youth Ambassadors’ Initiative reflects this. The initial idea emerged from a small working group at the 2002 East and Southern Africa Territories Youth Summit held at Masiye Training Camp in Zimbabwe; it was presented to The Salvation Army African Leaders’ Consultation on HIV/AIDS in Zambia in May 2002, where it received wholehearted endorsement.
Since then four teams (twelve young people) have participated in the YAI with Brent Church being the first ever inter-continental YAI participant. We look forward to a continued partnership with the Africa Regional Team, and the USA Western Territory has again been invited to participate in the 2005 Youth Ambassadors’ Initiative.