This post was written by Imo Chinasa Ude – ONE Champion, Nigeria
The ONE Youth Summit (May 31 – June 2) was an amazing experience for me. The preparation for documentation and visas for travelling was a process I will not forget. Collaborating with five strong ONE Champions from different parts of the country to attend the summit; I witnessed first-hand that once there is a common purpose, human beings are wired to work together, no matter their race, language or gender.
Upon arrival in France, I met with more than 200 ONE Youth Ambassadors from different countries, who also told me about their travel experiences (some came by ferry, some by train, others like me had come by air and others by road).
All these people gathered for a common goal, this taught me a few lessons:
Passion – from the moment we arrived at the Generator Hostel where we stayed, we were driven by passion. Throughout the summit sessions – trainings, presentations, the stunt, I saw the zeal and passion in each of us in changing the status quo. Everyone was passionate about gender equality, transparency and accountability in public and private institutions, and the development of sustainable projects geared towards the eradication of extreme poverty. Serious concern was raised also about combating conflict around the world that will help in solving the refugee crisis and cross-border migration. The height of my experience was the level of passion exhibited by all the youth ambassadors in pulling the biggest stunt in ONE’s “the Poverty is Sexist” campaign at La Defence. Even the incessant rain and cold weather in Paris, couldn’t deter the ambassadors from participating in the stunt. In fact it became an energizing force.
Teamwork– When you set a goal and you have team spirit like the one I witnessed at the summit, achieving set targets is already a done deal. Teamwork and team spirit is all we require to achieve great things, and I saw these assets in everyone I met at the summit.
Government’s Role – Throughout the various sessions it was clear that the government had a key role to play in us achieving our goals. Although individuals and organizations can play their part through developmental projects, it is only through sustainable government policies, laws, projects, commitment, efficiency, and accountability that poverty will end. Governments are the key to achieving growth and development that will translate to increased healthcare services, improved standard of living, economic development, and advancement in technological innovations.
Public Pressure – To achieve our mandate and trigger government to make and implement policies that are pro-poor, we as citizens have to mount pressure on them. I was taught how to effectively lobby policy makers, carryout advocacy campaigns, and negotiations. This is where what we do as ONE champions matters most! With concerted pressure from non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, citizens, different media, governments will pay attention. The summit taught me that we should not take no for an answer, and must keep pressuring, and pushing, until we achieve our goal.
Believe In People – this to me was personal, because, walking into the room full of people from different countries, speaking different languages for the first ten minutes worried me. Many questions popped in my head: am I properly dressed, will anyone talk to me in this crowd, when I try striking a conversation will I get a response, can I find at least a friendly face here to chat with… While I was battling with all these uncertainties, Diane Sheard (Europe ONE Director) and Adrian Lovett (ONE CEO) presented their welcoming speeches, and that lit up the room. Even though we were different, we spoke the same language and we see things the same way. It struck me there that “all we need in this life is to believe in people, pull down our walls and we will find a common ground to work together to communicate and form synergies.”
Humanitarian and development needs are immense and are currently underfunded, but we hold the power to solve some of them. Let us join hands in ending extreme poverty in our lifetime.
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