The Gambia Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) team are currently participating in the 12th National Youth Conference and Festival, taking place at Nasir Ahmadiyaa Muslim Senior Secondary School in Basse, Upper River Region.

YEP supported the organisation of NAYCONF, and the entire project management team, including a representative from Delegation of the European Union to The Gambia, travelled all the way from the Kombos to join forces with the National Organising Committee in Basse. The NAYCONF is a highly interactive youth platform which equipped participants with the country’s history, better understand their own cultures and traditions, participate in sporting games, academic competition, entrepreneurship and health fairs as well as youth conference. Through the ‘Youth Conference’ the delegates are equipped with tools and real life experience to work on different topics that are of high interest to the youth. The Youth Conference and Festival also provide a rich networking opportunity for actors in government, politics, academics, other youth development partners, human rights activists, civil society, private businesses and young entrepreneurs who are not usually in the same circles to interact with each other, showcase cultures and engage in debates on matters relating to youth empowerment and development in The Gambia.

"Being invited to attend the NAYCONF is so exciting and interacting with over 2000 delegates from all over the country is an incredible experience, we at YEP are pleased to associate with this initiative", said Baboucarr Sallah, Operations and Finance Officer, The Gambia Youth Empowerment Project.

“Being involved in the NAYCONF in Basse has given me a lot of new impressions and insights about youth entrepreneurship and empowerment in The Gambia. It was a great pleasure to be part of this”, said Ms. Merel van der Ven, International delegate from Holland, Delft University of Technology.

"It is a pleasure to experience the NAYCONF and to exchange ideas and also learn from the young Gambians about their opinions about entrepreneurship and empowerment of the youth from different regions of The Gambia", said Ms. Hibbe Amema, International delegate from Holland, Delft University of Technology.

Ms. Fatou Jeng, a delegate from the Kanifing Municipality, said in the "curbing youth irregular migration" thematic workshop:I came to understand the difference between migration in general and irregular migration. We learnt that migration began since the trace of time and migration is what keeps the globe circulating. The problem is, irregular migration (ie migration without proper documentation to suit the regulations of the country of origin, transit and destination) is what is affecting our countries. Globally over 400,000 volunteer returnees have been noted and medical bills of close to 2 billion dollars spent a year. How many died and how many have been traumatized? Our facilitators focused on the definition of migration, it being regular and irregular and how the underaged are becoming victims/survivors. We discussed on:

  • Human trafficking.
  • Child irregular migrants (children on the move).
  • The importance of the Gambia Immigration Department, other actors in migration management and their role in the irregular migrant reintegration process.
  • The challenges and opportunities available for returnees.

Discussions included plenary sessions on the how and what society can do for returnees and what we want the government to do to help them. I believe it is very essential for government to consider building up policies or frameworks to assist irregular migrants since there are none in place yet and come up with better facilities and empowerment projects to make our youth want to stay behind and hustle for The Gambian populace. Suggestions were made for both government, UN agencies like the IOM and others relevant stakeholders to come together and forge achievable and sustainable ways to enhance the reduction of young irregular migrants and child survivors.

“We felt so welcome at the NAYCONF and it was a very valuable and educational experience to be in contact with students our age and get their opinions on topics concerning youth empowerment and entrepreneurship”, said Ms. Amber Liqui Lung, International delegate from Holland, Delft University of Technology.

"I am so happy seeing delegates wearing the YEP-NAYCONF T-shirts and walking in the street of Basse town and the neighborhood Mansajang Kunda, Kaba Kama, Giroba Kunda, Manneh Kunda, Koba Kunda and even on the top of a hill in a very beautiful compound of SOS Children’s Village was full of YEP. The YEP’s support is so much worth it and project’s presence is very much felt"

"On behalf of the entire young people of the Gambia, we would like to extend our profound gratitude to the management of YEP project for the collaboration and support it continues to render to the youths of this country to interact, share knowledge, ideas, discuss challenges and opportunities for empowering youth in the Gambia", said Mrs. Mberry Jobe Sonko, Programme Officer, National Youth Council of The Gambia.

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