For the past three months we have had the opportunity to have interns from across Africa join us as virtual interns for our partnering grassroots organisations. This project aimed to advance the education and skills of vulnerable youth who have been negatively affected by the side effects of covid-19 due to unemployment, lockdown, lack of ability to travel or attend education.
Each youth intern was paired with a professional mentor within the field of sustainable development and an NGO depending on their interest. For a period varying from 4-12 weeks, the youth volunteered virtually and assisted in areas such as marketing, measure and evaluation, training or grant writing. During this time, the youth further participated in online learning activities focusing on an element of sustainable development and will receive a certificate in Sustainable Development from Columbia University.
This project specifically targeted youth, NGOs and the direct beneficiaries of the NGOs.
Youth have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, forcing youth into unemployment and bad mental health. Many are left with few options to work, study and travel. By providing an opportunity to virtually intern increased their knowledge on global issues within the areas of sustainable development through lectures, online learning programs, mentoring whilst getting practical experience.
NGOs have been struggling due to the side effects of COVID-19 and many have lost their funding, making it difficult to get back on their feet. In addition, they can no longer get assistance from regular volunteers on site causing a big gap in their operations. Virtual volunteers will support in filling the temporary gap and assist NGOs in getting back on their feet and continue to support their beneficiaries. NGO’s struggle has further impacted their beneficiaries who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and rely on NGOs and volunteers for survival especially as people are losing their lives and livelihoods.
One of our interns was Chelsea who was one of the first to join our new, virtual internship program. During her program she was working with a Zimbabwean Women’s Foundation and got to onboard our new partner, edit MoUs, as well as designing a measure and evaluation system together with her mentor. At the same time she completed her online course in Sustainable Development at Columbia University. After the program she got accepted into University and a job offer to work part-time at a social enterprise.
This project was highly effective as it applies a collaborative approach and builds institutions which will survive past the life-span of this grant. Further, it tackles three large groups of beneficiaries: UK youth which has been impacted by COVID -19 due to unemployment or cancelled travel plans; NGOs which have lost their funding due to reduced donations as a result of the financial crisis caused by COVID -19; and finally the people and the environment which are being directly affected by COVID -19 and who do not have a safety net to support them during COVID -19 and its aftermath.
As a result of the successful pilot project we are now busy securing funding to ensure that more African youth get the opportunity to participate.
Thank you for all of your support over the last quarter, we cannot wait to share our progress with you!