Let’s See Young People Lead


It has been an exciting lead-up to next week’s high-level meeting in Mexico. I have been interning at the Restless Development Headquarters in London and working closely with my counterpart, Merybell, in the Dominican Republic to collect input from the world’s youth for the GPEDC. It has been a fast paced 3 weeks and I’ve jumped straight in with acronyms up to my head. 

Who am I?

I’m Dawn and I will be a Youth Communicator at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) conference. As a Development Advocate (supported by the Gates Foundation), passionate about empowering young people, I want to make sure that they are considered across the board in the development of the post-2015 agenda. I believe it is essential that the messages from the conference next week are accessible to everyone. Governments, private entities and civil society members will be coming together to discuss how effective development can occur through partnership and the world’s youth need to have a role in shaping the decisions that will directly affect their lives.

So, what is the GPEDC.!?

The GPEDC stands for the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (click here). Co-chaired by the UK’s Secretary of State, Justine Greening, it aims to bring together nations, business and organisations to ensure that funding, knowledge and policy is shared in order to maximize development impact in the continuing fight to help improve lives and end poverty.

The first high-level meeting aims to assess how and what progress has been made since the last objectives were set at the meeting in Busan, 2011. 1300 key players and decision makers from around the world will gather in Mexico City, 15th – 16th April 2014, to review and discuss how to continue moving forward.

What will the youth communicators be doing (apart from trying to get a selfie with Ban Ki-Moon)?


As a Youth Communicator I will strive to make sure that young people from around the world are represented at this high-level forum. So far, Merybell and I have been busy gathering opinions and ideas from all over; Jordan, Nigeria, Haiti, Ghana, South Africa, Japan, Venezuela and more. Together, Merybell and I have compiled their quotes, designed images, edited footage and from next week, this will be displayed on the ‘Voice Wall’ at the GPEDC conference. The content so far has been inspiring:


Aside from myself, there will be 6 others in the super youth delegation; three will be Panellists, each specialising in one of the main themes, and the other four will be active participants in the discussions, sharing evidence and experience on development from the grassroots level, both in the main panels and the focus sessions.

The meeting will address three main themes: the Private Sector, Middle Income Countries and South-South cooperation. It is an opportunity to share knowledge, discuss what works and what hasn’t in the past and look to the future to see how best to collaborate in the above areas.


Half the world’s population is under 25. That’s a lot of positive energy. Restless Development (the youth-led development agency) is supporting a youth delegation to reach out and engage young people from different countries, regions and networks to participate in these global discussions. By being there, the Youth Delegates will show the value and advantages of working with young people to increase development effectiveness. I am excited at the prospect of playing a role in making sure that the voice of the younger generation is heard; that the decisions that are being made on their behalf are informed and right for those who they will be affecting.


We want you, reader, to join us. Become a remote delegate of this conference, making it truly global.  On this Facebook page, you will find us hosting debates, encouraging discussion and relaying key elements of the conference.


On Twitter you’ll see more real-time updates and join the conversation.  You can follow me (@dawn_1989) or Merybell (@MerybellNabilah) or check the hashtags #myGPEDC #GPHLM. Highlights will also be on @RestlessDev.

The voice wall will be hosted through Instagram @RestlessDevelopment. To add to it, you can upload your image or 15 second video with the hashtags #myGPEDC and it’ll show here with all the others from all over the world. 

 We will be working hard to make the conference as interactive as possible and to ensure there is two-way communication between the conference delegates and those how are unable to attend. Join us in showing the Global Partnership how valuable young people and their input are and that we want to be there too. 

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation - We want your voice!

Why I think International Aid is important #stopthemyth

Recently I completed the International Citizen Service, a government funded programme that gives UK and European citizens the chance to live and work in the global south countries with national counterparts to try and tackle some of the big issues the country might be facing. Whether it’s a high unemployment rate, an HIV/AIDS epidemic or access to sanitation, cross-cultural teams will work together to learn a little bit about international development, experience communities vastly different to their own, but mostly learn something about themselves.


I was placed with the youth-led development agency Restless Development. I learned I would be going to Zimbabwe, living in a rural school for 10 weeks and leading sessions, events and awareness campaigns on life-skills and sexual reproductive health rights for the students and community. From the moment I started telling family and friends about the new adventure I would be embarking on, I was met with comments such as, “Why do you want to go there when there are people here in the UK that need help?” and “Why do these people deserve our money when they don’t even help themselves?”

It was important for me to be asked this, as up until that point I had partly assumed a) that no one could criticize voluntary efforts to support those who haven’t had access to the same opportunities and b) it’s too hard to give an explanation to anyone who has to ask this sort of question. Not only was that condescending, but quite frankly, a cop out. These are exactly the type of conversations I should be engaging in, the perceptions and misunderstandings that need to be changed, and by avoiding them I was doing the greatest disservice to the people I met on placement: devaluing their voice.

So let me respond to them now:

“Why do you want to go there when there are people here in the UK that need help?”

Because I am not able to put two people side by side and say that one deserves help more than the other, based on where they have come from. This is my short, personal answer. For details on how investing in the poorer countries is essential to establish a sustainable future, please read the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2014 Annual Letter that was released this month. In it, Bill and Melinda respond head on to the common misconceptions that come up time and time again when discussing international development and aid spending with one main objective: #stopthemyth

But in the meantime, that is what I say to you: that while I was in Zimbabwe, encouraging young people to think about ways of preventing HIV transmission and working on a student-led initiative to reduce the drastic amount of violent bullying in the school, there was no way I could have justified taking away the funding that had allowed this project to take place.

“Why do these people deserve our money when they don’t even help themselves?”

Whoever said they’re not helping themselves?! Well, the media has, I guess, with the stories of corruption, of aid money being given to governments (and charities) that doesn’t end up making it’s way to those who need it. Bodies of power not listening to or being perceptive of the needs of those who depend on it – sound familiar? And as Bill noted “Four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or its highways closed.” (Read in full here).

But I think the point that can sometimes be forgotten when talking about developing countries and getting on our high horse, is that, as in EVERY country, there are real people. There are stories and thoughts and feelings, just like yours and mine.

 image “You can help bring about a global belief that every life has equal value” – Melinda Gates 

Also, lets get away from this “help” idea. We are not crusaders galloping in with a “beacon of hope” (worryingly, a notion I overheard). As was spotted on one school wall in Zimbabwe by a fellow volunteer: “What you do for us, without us, is not for us” Why can’t we be supporting one another? Just like when we face difficulties at home, they are made easier with assistance from our friends, new perspectives and ideas; we just need to apply that on a wider scale.


Every single day on placement I was inspired by the people I met, continually struck by their creativity, innovativeness and passion. The pupils would share their ideas on how we could support those living with HIV in their community, composed from scratch an event programme that would raise awareness and take steps to reduce stigma and prejudices faced by those who had been open about their HIV positive status. We brought together adults and young people to try and discuss issues their community is facing and the students showed bravery in asking questions on no-go areas such as, “Why aren’t mothers speaking to their sons about safe sex practices?” (a huge feat in a culture where there is a strict hierarchy between old and young).

I didn’t go out there with the belief that I would change the world, to be honest I went out there not knowing what would happen at all. But since returning, I can look back and feel that my team and I provided a space. A safe environment, separate from an unvarying routine, where the young people we worked with were asked to give opinions, question things and come up with solutions. To be creative in thinking about the change they’d like to see and what part they could play in trying to achieve it. They were intelligent and resourceful, dedicated and motivated. None of which can be bought, but all of which can be nurtured. How can people who have these qualities not be deserving of opportunities? Why should they be denied access to the tools they need to create a better life for themselves and their families?

 This excellent video highlights perfectly the figure that’s getting lost in translation between government, media and the general public. With people guessing that the UK spends anywhere from 10% - 40% on overseas aid, they’re often shocked to find it’s quite a bit lower. Did you know that from a £25 000 a year income, £52 in taxes goes towards overseas? That’s enough measles vaccines for 346 children. That’s 346 lives.

Help dispel these misconceptions and encourage a stronger understanding of the support we give our international counterparts. RT this post, or something you’ve learned that you didn’t know before and help #stopthemyth.

A sample of my experience in Zimbabwe with the Restless Development ICS programme.


"You may have heard about a scandal in Cambodia last year involving a bed net program run by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Cambodian officials were caught taking six-figure kickbacks from contractors. Editorial writers trotted out headlines like “How to waste foreign aid money.” One article mentioned me as someone whose money was being wasted.

I appreciate the concern, and it’s a good thing when the press holds institutions accountable. But the press didn’t uncover this scheme. The Global Fund did, during an internal audit. In finding and fixing the problem, The Global Fund did exactly what it should be doing. It would be odd to demand that they root out corruption and then punish them for tracking down the small percentage that gets misused.

There is a double standard at work here. I’ve heard people calling on the government to shut down some aid program if one dollar of corruption is found. On the other hand, four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or its highways closed.”





the thing to realize here is that conservatives find the idea of paying workers a livable wage so absurd that they make hyperbolic comparisons like this

because fifteen dollars and hour and a hundred thousand dollars an hour both mean the same thing to them; more than you deserve

^That commentary is very important.

(Source: -teesa-, via deservemore)

9th December saw Foreign Secretary William Hague, UK International Anti-Corruption Champion Ken Clarke and International Development Secretary Justine Greening issue a joint statement on International Anti-Corruption Day.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said

"When corruption happens in developing countries, it is the very poorest people who foot the bill. It deters investment, cheats citizens out of the services and support they need to develop their economies and end aid dependency."

Restless Development ICS volunteers recently returned from placements in the most rural areas of Zimbabwe where they witnessed first hand the creativity, innovativeness and hospitality of the local people of the country.

Support those working hard to make a difference.


Full article: https://www.gov.uk/government/world-location-news/joint-uk-ministerial-statement-on-international-anti-corruption-day—2



Tags: elephants

Laughter times

Laughter times

Missing this…… #zimbabwe #embakwe

Missing this…… #zimbabwe #embakwe


Here’s a #sillyseagull