Finding solutions from world’s youth


Participants discussing pressing global issues during the five-day programme. — Photos: LOW BOON TAT/The Star

A TOTAL of 26 youth leaders representing various civil societies from 17 countries engaged with and learned from each other at the Community Solutions Program (CSP) 2024.

Project director Les Miles said the year-long professional development programme aimed to develop technical skills and foster strong relationships among youth leaders.

“Most youth organisations share the same vision that leverages their own communities, though they may pursue it in different ways.

Joseph says many youths cannot see the point of fighting so hard for change.Joseph says many youths cannot see the point of fighting so hard for change.“This year’s CSP exposes youth leaders from around the world to community service in the Malaysian context through various activities such as workshops.

“It is also crucial to promote a sense of belonging among them so that they do not feel lonely.

“Community service is meaningful, but it can also be very exhausting,” he told StarMetro.

CSP 2024 which took place at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur was organised by International Research and Exchanges Board (Irex) and supported by the US Embassy.

Miles works to create a sense of belonging to counter loneliness and exhaustion that come with community service.Miles works to create a sense of belonging to counter loneliness and exhaustion that come with community service.Throughout the five-day event, representatives from countries including Singapore, Zimbabwe, Kenya, the Philippines, Nepal and Kazakhstan discussed various pressing global issues such as mental health, access to education, food sustainability, democracy, and climate change.

Miles said success of the Undi18 movement, which saw the legal voting age in Malaysia lowered from 21 to 18 in 2019, inspired him to hold this year’s CSP here.

“This success highlighted the capability of Malaysian youths in overcoming challenges to form functional coalitions that can drive national-level impact.

“We are also honoured to have Qyira Yusri, co-founder of Undi18, to share her experience,” he said.

Acknowledging the prevalence of apathy among youths, Miles said it was important for them to find their own community.

Wong: Youths should be able to voice out their views because they have a stake in the future.Wong: Youths should be able to voice out their views because they have a stake in the future.“It is easy to feel hopeless especially when there are so many ongoing conflicts around the world.

“However, I still feel optimistic about our future when I hear so many innovative ideas from participants.

“Do remember that there is always a like-minded group of people out there who are willing to support and engage with you,” he advised.

Echoing this sentiment, Akar Umbi Society Impact Driver Wong Chen Li encouraged participants to be more concerned about their communities.

“Most of the time, youths are seen as not matured enough to speak about issues but they should be able to voice out their views because they have a stake in the future.

“We cannot exist without the others and hence, try your best to be engaged in the happenings around you to build the Malaysia that you want,” said Wong, who was also a fellow of CSP 2024.

Dignity for Children Foundation executive Richard Joseph urged participants not to give up on the path to reform.

“Many youths cannot see the point of fighting so hard for change as they feel it is them against the whole world.

“Reform can only be achieved when we stand together. Malaysia has not fully lost hope,” said Joseph, who was a panellist for CSP 2024.

However, Amanda Leonie, 37, a participant representing the Sabah Centre for Human Rights and Community Service, disagreed with the notion of youths being apathetic.

“Youths nowadays have all the tools and platforms, such as social media, to be aware of the issues around them.

“They just do not know how to act on those issues, and thus, programmes like CSP are very important to engage with them.

“Capacity building is needed so that they can also contribute to their communities,” she said.

The application for CSP 2025 will be open in September or October this year.

Areas of work and vision for youth development are some of the criteria Irex is looking for in the applicants.

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