Youth Empowerment to Drive Social Change: Youth Initiative for Africa Development

In Africa, Features 19, Youth by Mary KurekLeave a Comment

Donation to Gbeogbo School for the Deaf in the Upper East Region of Ghana

By Abdul-Rahman Abdullai

The desire to positively impact the life of the average African youth as well as the need to drive development through the modern-day youth were the key principles that guided me to form the Youth Initiative for Africa Development (YIFAD) a non-governmental organization in Ghana whilst at undergraduate studies in the University of Ghana, Legon. YIFAD was founded in September 2012. This organization is currently impacting lives through its operations in areas such as Rural Education, Rural Water Project, donations to homes, School Sanitation, and Hygiene Education, among others.

If knowledge acquired is not used to hone skills to invent and solve the socio-economic problems in our communities, we do ourselves a great disservice. This is why I strive to empower the youth in deprived communities to be better equipped to participate in community development.

As a social innovator, I always take a closer look at society and try to critically analyze how I can come up with innovative ideas that can be developed and implemented to have a long-term impact on societal development.  As the Founder and Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Africa Development, I am responsible for the planning, implementation, monitoring, and coordination of YIFAD’s current and future projects and programs and manage relations with partners and stakeholders.

Currently, we are embarking on a project dubbed “Inclusive Education for Persons Living with Special Needs/Disabilities in Ghana.”  I am advocating for the creation of inclusive educational systems which is fundamental to achieving quality in education and realizing the human rights of all children. Inclusive education can raise the quality bar across educational systems, by using strategies that cater for naturally diverse learning styles of all students, whilst accommodating the specific learning needs of some students in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the area of Inclusive Education and Reduce Inequality by 2030. This program is nationwide advocacy I initiated in March 2014 and it is still ongoing. I have organized outreach programs by donating food supplies, learning materials, detergent,  and students’ mattresses among others to thirteen (13) different schools for persons living with disabilities in ten (10) regions in Ghana as part of this project. We donated and interacted with all the school children and authorities we visited in order to know the challenges they face in schools. I have made it possible for over 3,500 persons living with disabilities in various schools to benefit from our outreach programs which are been organized to put smiles on the faces of these pupils.

Rural Water Project at Chogsia community in the Upper West Region of Ghana

In addition to the education projects, we have undertaken field research in rural communities in the Upper West Region, Northern Region, Eastern Region and Central Region of Ghana where there are difficulties with access to safe and clean water by rural dwellers. Deprived rural communities in these regions are still dependent on open water sources such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. Dependency on unsafe water sources and lack of proper sanitation and hygiene practice is higher in rural areas, and a result, these rural dwellers are prone to water-borne diseases. The goal of this project is to drill boreholes and community participation in sanitation and hygiene education in these communities in order to ensure the attainable of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation for All) by 2030.

On the 6th of March, 2020, as part of the celebration of Ghana’s 63rd Independence, we launched a program dubbed “Youth in Climate Change Advocacy.” The goal of this program is to create awareness among the youth on how climate change is bringing devastating effects on our environment and the need to put in appropriate measures to curb the situation among the vulnerable population. Climate change is threatening food security and agriculture, which is the major occupation of rural dwellers in Ghana. Hence, the Youth Initiative for Africa Development is tackling climate change at the grassroots level and doing our part in sensitizing these rural farmers on how to adapt to resilient agricultural practices.

Our organization seeks to explore diverse ways of dealing with issues on inclusive education for persons with disabilities, access to safe and clean water, and climate change. This, we believe would protect the rights of the vulnerable youth in deprived communities in Ghana in order to improve their quality of life. We engaged ourselves in several empowerment and advocacy programs and community engagement, which includes volunteer teaching at some basic schools. This is aimed at the goal of supporting education at the local community level by providing them guidance and mentoring.

An introspection of our modern-day society has revealed that there are various societal woes that need to be addressed, however, the pessimists are likely to sit aloof and complain rather than take an active part in ascertaining the solutions to these problems. Youth Initiative for Africa Development aims to take an active and positive stance in addressing the social problems facing the youth as well as coming up with innovative ways to address these problems.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullai

Abdul-Rahman Abdullai is the Founder and Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Africa Development (NGO).  He was born in Wa Municipal in the Upper West Region of Ghana on the 9th of August 1987. He has a Master of Science degree in Economics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Geography from the University of Ghana and a Higher National Diploma in Accountancy Studies from the Wa Polytechnic. He had his secondary school education at T.I. Ahmadiyya Secondary School, Asokore – Ashanti and elementary education at God’s Church of Peace Preparatory, Airport Roundabout – Kumasi. He has accumulated experiences while working in various capacities like; Assistant Planning Officer at the Ministry of Transport – Ghana, Finance Officer at Computer Information Systems (CIS)-Ghana and Accounts Officer at Dangme East District Assembly – Greater Accra Region. For Abdullai, his joy is seeing the youth make good use of their time to acquire knowledge which will enable them to achieve greatness irrespective of their background.

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Editor: Angela Berkoh

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