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Mayor Lowe Launches Youth Volunteerism Project In Banjul

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Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul City Council (BCC)

By Buba Gagigo

Rohey Malick Lowe, the Mayor of Banjul City Council (BCC) and President of REFELA Africa, launched a Youth Volunteerism project in Banjul on Thursday.

The project, funded by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, the Islamic Development Bank, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea), and UNDP, is aimed at advancing and supporting youth volunteerism frameworks, capacities, and activities in Banjul and promoting cross-exchanges and learnings with other cities in the global South through South-South and triangular cooperation. The project aims to equip 500 youth with different skills.

At the launch, Mayor Lowe asserted that the project is not just an idea, but a solution to empower youth and curb illegal migration.

“I stand before you with immense pride and excitement as we unveil a project that will not only transform the youths of Banjul but also extend its positive impact to the entire Gambia. This project is not just an idea; it’s a solution for empowering our young generation and curbing the challenge of illegal migration. Fellow Banjulians, this project is for you, you the future leaders we are so proud of, the ones we will entrust our legacy to when our time to retire comes.

“The Youth Volunteerism Project (known as the YVP) is all about skills, skills that have been carefully designed by professionals who understand the vital role of skills in empowering our youths. I’ve been involved in the YVP project right from its inception, and I can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunity to see it become a reality,” Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe said.

The Mayor also took the opportunity to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the United Nations Office for the South-South Cooperation and REFELA for initiating the ‘remarkable’. 

Mayor Lowe acknowledged that the project had faced challenges and setbacks due to factors outside their control.

“Despite challenges that came our way, we prevailed. Let’s offer our heartfelt thanks and appreciation multiple times. Yes, there were hurdles and delays due to circumstances beyond our control, but today, we stand here celebrating the reality of this project. The excitement I feel for the youths of Banjul on this momentous occasion knows no bounds,” she said.

Bakary Y. Badjie, the Minister of Youth and Sports, says the Youth Volunteerism Program is in line with the government’s NDP and the ministry’s strategic plan.

“This is important for us as a country because it goes with a saying that young people constitute the majority of our population. And the statistics has it that more than 63% of the Gambian population is youth. It’s therefore important that be it central government or the local councils or any development partners work in this area so that we can be able to give young people the good start that they deserve to be able to prepare themselves for leadership but also to be able to prepare themselves for employment and employment opportunities, and this is exactly what the REFELA program under the Lord Mayor is going to bring to the young people of the Gambia,” the minister said at the launch ceremony on Thursday.

REFELA Gambia Chapter National Coordinator, Isatou Njie, says the program will give youth the opportunity to build their capacity to achieve positive social change.

“We all gathered here today because we believe in the power of our young people. We are aware that every young person here have a potential that could be fulfilled; this project is a manifestation of the belief the mayor and partners have in youth. We believe strongly that our city, society, and country will be stronger. If you younger people are provided with meaningful opportunities to excel, we therefore do hope that through this project, the coming days shall provide you with such opportunities that will help build your capacity to achieve positive social change and shape in the future of our beloved country,” she said.

The overall goal of this pilot project is to help Gambian youth build skills and find decent work through volunteerism. The project will also support the scaling up of volunteerism and entrepreneurship in Banjul through South-South and triangular cooperation.

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