Julian Momoh: YMCA provides the confidence and voice to talk about issues relating to young people

  1. What is your background within the YMCA? How has it impacted your life?

I joined YMCA Sierra Leone about 12 years ago when I was invited by a friend in the university to witness a meeting at YMCA -Wellington Branch. I started as a member with little participation and meeting attendance. Gradually, I became interested in the vision, culture, reputation and values of the YMCA. As the years rolled by, my commitment to the YMCA began to increase, and I was voted Youth Secretary for YMCA – Sierra Leone Western Region in 2015. I served in this capacity for a few months and then contested for the position of a National Youth Secretary in our then-upcoming triennial meeting. I won the election and served as the National Youth Secretary until 2018. 

As I kept making steady growth within YMCA Sierra Leone, I later contested for the position of National Youth Chairperson in our first youth quadrennial meeting, and I won unopposed. This is the position I currently hold. 

I have participated in several programmes such as Peace and Non-Violence Campaign, Ebola sensitization, cleaning exercises, fundraising, Disaster Risk Reduction sensitization, etc. I also am a graduated Subject 2 Citizen (S2C) Ambassador and Change Agent. I was blessed with the opportunity to witness my first World Council gathering in Thailand in 2018, and I am looking forward to witnessing another in Denmark.

YMCA has positively impacted my life in many spheres, and I believe it will continue to do the same. The more I’m in the YMCA, the more I want to continue to be a YMCA member. My love for the YMCA seems to be like a vow of ” ‘til death do us part”.  YMCA has given me the exposure, confidence and voice to talk about issues relating to young people. Advocacy training received in Senegal and Thailand has equipped me to strongly advocate for young people and engage stakeholders on issues affecting them.

Reverse Mentoring, which I consider to be a strategic tool used by YMCA, has helped me a lot in gaining knowledge from my mentor. Equally, he has learned from me. At some point, I called this reverse mentoring a “barter system of knowledge”.

 

  1. How did you feel about the World Council in Chiang Mai? What was the highlight for you, any take-home initiatives, and has it impacted your perception of the YMCA movement?

My overall feeling about the 19th World Council event in Chiang Mai is that it was a great and successful event. A masterpiece!

The main highlights for me during the 19th World Council event were:

  1.  The platform given to young people (Change Agents) to express and communicate their views and the responsibilities given to youths during the event. This clearly shows the YMCA is ready to empower and give young people their space. It shows the commitment to the theme “youth empowerment for good”.
  2.  The drama performance by Change Agents.
  3.  Having a female elected president at the World Alliance for the first time. This also shows the commitment of the YMCA to the empowerment of women.

3) Knowing that you will be joining us in Aarhus, what are your expectations regarding the event? Do you have any thoughts or particular workshops you are interested in?

The world is still battling COVID-19, and the pandemic has ravaged many economies and crippled the activities and finances of most national movements as well as the AAY and World Alliance of YMCAs. Equally so, obtaining a visa for Denmark is challenging for many Africans, especially youths.

However, I trust the leadership of the World Alliance to plan a great event.  And I am hopeful that members will display their usual enthusiasm.

I am looking to a 20th World Council event that will hold discussions mainly on how National movements, Regional Alliances and the World Alliance will strategize to bounce back from the effect of COVID.

There was an outcry from many Africans who were denied visas to undertake their Change Agent training in Portugal. My thought is for World Alliance to engage the host country in the best possible manner to ensure that visas are issued to members, especially young people who intend to and can attend. Denying young people visas to attend such functions is like depriving them of the opportunity to be empowered.

I am particularly interested in workshops relating to climate change.