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Terre des hommes empowers youth in Moldova through art

2020-05-20

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the regular activity of Terre des hommes (Tdh) in Moldova, prompting the team to adapt and rethink the planned actions for the time being. Thus, at the end of April, what was supposed to be an in-person conference became an online meeting of more than 80 young people, teachers and representatives of 25 Youth Centres and their branches from Moldova.

The meeting marked the start of a new project within the Joint Fund for the development of Youth Centres and strengthening participation and civic engagement among young people in the Republic of Moldova. The Fund was created by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of Moldova, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The project aims to support civic engagement initiatives of young people, to offer them more opportunities at the local level and, in the end, to establish a range of good practices that would allow sustainable collaboration among community actors, beyond the project framework.

According to Elena Madan, Tdh Moldova director, the activities to be carried out by Tdh this year come as a natural continuation of the previous work, with a greater emphasis on strengthening the link between Youth Centres, youth themselves and schools.

UNFPA Moldova Program Manager, Ion Donea, emphasized that at least 23 community initiatives across the country will be supported with a grant of USD 1,000 each.

An innovative methodology

Terre des hommes always strives to innovate and bring new approaches to its activities with children and youth, as well as with adults. Thereby, Tdh will apply its YouCreate methodology within the project. "It is a methodology that takes you a little out of the ordinary, encourages you to unleash your imagination and to solve problems through creative methods, by using art," as Teodora Rebeja, Tdh Moldova Programme Manager, described the new approach proposed by Tdh.

Through its previous experience of working with young people, Tdh has learned that youth easily lose interest if not stimulated by innovative methods and diversity of activities. Another lesson is that youth become more motivated when they are actively involved both in the planning phase of a project, as in carrying out the activities. And most importantly, the community initiatives addressing young people have to be led by youth themselves, as pointed out by Liliana Astrahan, Child and Youth Protection Specialist at Tdh Moldova and the project’s coordinator of the youth engagement activities. YouCreate responds to these needs.

What is YouCreate?

YouCreate methodology was developed by Terre des hommes at global level, in collaboration with the International Institute for Child Rights and Development from Canada. It has so far been successfully applied by Tdh teams in Ukraine, Greece, Egypt and Iraq.

Vlad Oleatovschi, Child and Youth Protection Specialist at Tdh Moldova and YouCreate trainer, described the essence of the methodology during the online meeting: "In a nutshell, YouCreate aims to develop and implement creative community initiatives, made by youth for youth. The goal of the methodology is to increase the resilience and wellbeing of youth, to develop their personal and leadership skills, create a sense of belonging and actively support the community."

Therefore, the methodology supports the individual development of the participants and helps them to explore their creativity and intuition, added Teodora Rebeja.

The initiatives developed through a YouCreate process are also called art-actions, as the methodology uses art as a working tool and a means to implement the ideas for positive social change. Young people can choose diverse forms of art, according to their preferences and interests – performing and fine arts, crafts, digital arts, photography, graffiti, etc.

In addition to art, the core element of the methodology, YouCreate focuses on the following aspects:

  • builds on and highlights the strengths of the involved young people and the community;
  • supports the significant and equal participation of all young people in the initiative group;
  • promotes inclusion: any young person is welcome, regardless of faith, ethnicity, disability etc.

Project’s activities

25 teams have been established. Each team consists of two young people who act as agents of change and an implementation team of 12-15 young people, a teacher and a youth worker.

In May – June 2020, all the teams will participate in a training course provided by Tdh. During summer, the teams will define the concepts of their community initiatives and, by the end of October, they will carry out their art-actions.

After an evaluation process, a new meeting with all the teams will be held at the end of the year – this time, if the situation allows, offline. The team members will be able to share their experiences and good practices.

Challenges

Starting the training process online is a major challenge for both project teams and trainers, as well as for participants, since YouCreate requires an experiential learning practice, with many interactive and group activities.

"In the current context, we are starting the activities in online format, hoping that this pandemic will end soon and we will be able to meet in person", Elena Madan told the participants. "Until then, we will do everything possible to make these online meetings interactive and interesting."

Participants’ opinions

The participants at this first information session showed their interest and became curious about the new method proposed by Terre des hommes. Stanislav, a young boy from Chisinau, said that although he has previously participated in other programmes, this methodology seems special and challenging, because, on one hand, the participants will consolidate as a team and, at the same time, each of them will develop personal skills and evolve on their own.

Background

Since 2018, Terre des hommes is an implementation partner within the Joint Fund for the development of Youth Centres and strengthening participation and civic engagement among young people in the Republic of Moldova of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the United Nations Population Fund.

In the initial phase, in 2018, Tdh Moldova carried out an evaluation of the Youth Centres across the country, to establish the needs of youth workers, as well as the needs and challenges of young people. Based on the identified needs, development plans for 2019-2022 were drawn up for the Centres, activities with young people were carried out, which were followed by local initiatives developed and implemented by youth.

In 2019, in addition to the provided activities, summer camps and trainings for young people and youth workers, Terre des hommes developed three handbooks for youth workers on engaging young people in community activities and initiatives.