Each year, the CYEC hosts students and young adults from around the world, but most of our students come from two universities - Penn State and Kansas State. The students prepare for a semester, then come to work on various projects for the Centre, sharing their skills and passion and forming lasting relationships with our children and youth.
This summer, the students from Kansas State reinforced and expanded the Zawadi Exchange Program. Through this program, children and youth at the Centre earn points for doing chores or producing food, which can then be exchanged for toys (for the children) and room and board (for the youth). This builds responsibility and self-sufficiency among our young people.
Penn State students primarily worked with the youth cooperative, leading them through a series of workshops on entrepreneurship and business development. Most of the youth are involved in agricultural enterprises, but other activities include making jewelry from electronic waste. Two PSU graduates also extended their time to work on livestock production (the goats now produce enough milk to give all the young children a cup each morning!) and a mural arts program. Other PSU initiatives include low-cost greenhouse production and a tele-medicine initiative.
These partnerships are so valuable for all the young people involved. The US students are able to apply what they've learned in class, and more importantly, connect on a genuine level with the children and and youth at the Centre. The children at the centre are encouraged to continue their studies, and all of them learn they're not so different from each other.
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Director of Zawadi Fund International