It’s official, we have 25 new ONE Champions in Senegal and Mali! These incredible volunteers will be lobbying policy makers, rallying support for campaigns, and mobilising the public.
ONE Champions are young people who are passionate about sustainable development. Many of them are the leaders of tomorrow, who have been working in their communities to drive positive change.
By becoming a ONE Champion, they’re able to take their activism to the next level. ONE helps them hone their campaigning and advocacy skills, increase their understanding of the issues, and share and debate new ideas. They gain experience and connections to take back to their local communities and learn valuable life skills along the way.
Coumba Ka told us why being a Champion is so important to her: “As a young Muslim girl, the ONE Champions program is giving me a voice, a platform to defend my convictions that girls can speak up, they can contribute to the development of their societies, their countries, the development of the world.”
There was no relaxing for the Champions after they made it through selection. It was straight off to bootcamp in Dakar, Senegal. Over three days, they got to know ONE and each other a lot better.
Oulie Keita, Regional Director of ONE in Francophone West Africa, welcomed everyone. Lots of ONE staff, including CEO Gayle Smith, dropped by (in person and digitally) to say hi and talk about ONE. Folks from ONE France highlighted the incredible work Youth Ambassadors are doing in Europe and the United States.
The Champions learned about the political landscape in Senegal and Mali and how ONE lobbies and influences national policy. They gained insight into how ONE uses social and traditional media – learning how to use pop culture to spread the message. They got tips on public speaking and brushed up on their video-making skills.
The bootcamp was also a great opportunity to share opinions and debate the issues. They talked with government officials and people from other civil society organisations. Dr Ibrahima Kampo, from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, led a vibrant discussion about young people and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and beyond
ONE Champions began in Nigeria 3 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. This year, there will be 50 Champions from across the country.
Wadi Ben Hirki, a Nigerian Champion in 2017, joined the bootcamp and had a lot of great advice. “When you get the opportunity to serve and amplify your voice, do it well! It’s less about the title and more about the responsibility. ONE has played a great role in changing my mindset (and) giving me a platform to advocate for equity and justice.”
An exciting year ahead
The Champions have a busy year ahead. Quality education for girls is a top priority for everyone. While in Mali, they’ll be making sure that a Land Tenure Act becomes reality – and 15% of irrigated land is allocated to women and young people. In Senegal, they’ll be putting pressure on decision makers to be open and transparent, and campaigning for funding for women and young people in Agriculture.
By the end of bootcamp, the 25 new Champions were trained-up and raring to go. It’s going to be an exciting year!