International Youth Day: Inspiration from Zimbabwe

On August 12, we celebrate International Youth Day!

Our mission at the Global Tree Initiative is to Plant, Grow, Save!

Plant your tree,
our forest,
Save the lives of our future generations!

In the light of saving our future generations and inspiring our youth, we are excited to hear from our Regional coordinator in Zimbabwe, Jussa Kudherezera, who is also the founder of our partner, Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA).

Jussa and his team have initiated dozens of tree-planting projects around Zimbabwe, and they have planted and dedicated more than 3,000 trees! MAYA inspires and empowers the Zimbabwean youth through tree planting, environmental cleanup, environmental education, and many other ways.

In the story below, Jussa tells us a bit more about the background of International Youth Day, the youth in Zimbabwe, and how MAYA works to benefit them.


MAYA leading a tree-planting project at a local school


MAYA and the youth in Zimbabwe

By Jussa Kudherezera

MAYA joins the rest of the world in commemorating Youth Day, whose theme for 2023 is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World“. The theme aptly captures the technological era we are in, which is driven by technology and innovation; traits which are vested in the youths as they were born and grew up in it, therefore making them adept and ready to innovate and change their situations!

We are aware by 2050, Africa will have the youngest population. Our youth have the potential to be innovative, fast, and tech upbeat. Thus, our youth should be champions of change, and encourage others to be sensitive to the environment and climate change. At the same time, our youth are energetic and capable of contributing to the economy and development.

So, International Youth Day is an initiative that recognizes the traits of young people and that acknowledges the challenges that today’s youths face on a daily basis. To support the elimination of these issues, it is important that the youth has access to resources that will sustain and improve their well-being. Additionally, International Youth Day provides a platform for youth to be heard and further encourages youth to take initiatives and actions that will increase opportunities for them and their peers in a fast-evolving world, where technology and artificial intelligence have taken root.

The youth of the world face different challenges and barriers to prosperity, depending on which part of the world they are living in. However, it is not rocket science to say that young people living in underdeveloped countries face extreme problems rooted in poverty and insufficient access to basic needs such as education, health, and employment.


Children in Mutare, appealing to MAYA


It is a sad induction that today, 50% of the children between the age of six and 13 lack basic reading and math skills whilst childhood poverty is a prevalent problem globally. It is in this purview that the United Nations came up with the International Youth Day to help draw awareness to these issues which should encourage us to find solutions. It’s a day for reflection but also a day for taking action. So, get involved!

Under the Community and Capacity Building project working with young people, we (MAYA) have planted various trees, initiated clean-up campaigns, and represented the youth in Mutare in the City of Mutare Budget Committee. Our involvement has significantly impacted youth participation in decision-making processes. This role has not only given us a platform to voice the concerns and needs of the youth within budget discussions, but it has also motivated many young people to actively seek out and engage duty bearers.

One major change in the way we conduct our work, is that we now prioritize reaching out to youth groups and individuals to better understand their perspectives and priorities. This involves organizing meetings, focus groups, or surveys specifically tailored to gather their feedback on budget allocations and the impact on youth-oriented programs.

MAYA planting trees with a local school


To effectively conduct our work, we actively participate in youth forums, engage with relevant stakeholders, and attend events targeting the youth demographic. This allows us to stay informed about emerging issues, trends, and concerns that directly affect young people. By maintaining a strong connection with the youth community, we can address their needs and advocate for their concerns more effectively within the committee.

Furthermore, we are also committed to increasing transparency and accessibility in the budgetary process. I myself,  invest a lot of work towards making information more available to young people through easily accessible platforms, public forums, and clear communication channels. This empowers youth to engage, increases their understanding of decision-making procedures, and encourages their active participation. We call on young people to effectively participate in public processes, make their demands, and promote sustainable environmental management practices among communities with special focus factors such as deforestation, artisanal mining, veld fires, and stream bank cultivation to address underlying causes and effects of climate change.

This is a short summary of how we engage with our youth and how we try our best to empower them. Please visit our website and our Facebook page, and stay up to date with all our projects and initiatives.

On this youth day, join us, and empower our youth to create a greener, better future!



Further reading:

More than half of children and youth worldwide ‘not learning’ – UNESCO
The children’s continent: keeping up with Africa’s growth



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