22-year-old Jyer Steven Magnondo is the President of the *Youth Action Movement (YAM) in IPPF’s Member Association in Congo Brazzaville - Association Congolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ACBEF). Jyer is also a 3rd year university student pursuing studies in Business Administration.
In this interview with Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, Jyer talks about his involvement in voluntarism activities at ACBEF, and his passion for sharing sexual reproductive health information with adolescents and youth.
What Inspired You to Join the Youth Action Movement (YAM)?
I joined YAM in 2010. My joining was largely influenced by one particular incident. It so happened that a relative of mine had procured an unsafe abortion that had led to several health complications for her. She almost lost her life!
This incident shocked and saddened me. This experience led my mother, who has been an ACBEF volunteer for years, to encourage me to join the youth group at ACBEF so that I could gain more information on sexual reproductive health. My mother believed that gaining this knowledge would in turn help me educate my friends about making responsible choices about their sexuality. I heeded my mother’s advice and became a member of the ACBEF Youth Action Movement.
Describe Your Involvement in the Youth Action Movement at ACBEF
Since the time I joined the Youth Action Movement, I have gained a wealth of information on different issues such as abstinence, condom use, teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortions and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). I have also learnt a lot about HIV and AIDS.
As I learn, I in turn share this information with thousands of young people, ensuring that they are just as educated. This I continue to do through participating in outreach activities targeting adolescents and young people both in and out of schools. I believe our work is having a positive effect in the community. Since many young people today spend a significant amount of their time on the internet, I continue to actively use different social media platforms to increase the number of young people reached with this important information. You can follow our conversations here: (@Maj_Congo )
What are Some of The Benefits You Have Realized by Being a YAM Member?
Being a YAM member has helped me in different ways. I have become more enlightened on issues of youth sexual reproductive health and rights. As a result, I have been able to make responsible decisions regarding my behaviour.
Also, with the knowledge gained, I have become an advocate for young people and their access to youth-friendly information and services. I have been able to speak in different forums both at the national and regional levels as a youth advocate.
I have also participated in various proposal writing activities, and I now can say I know what it takes to write a winning proposal for funding of projects. I have been involved in project planning and implementation – something that has required me to work in a team to achieve desired results. My volunteer activities in YAM have also enabled me to meet new people, hence strengthening my social network.
As the YAM President, I have increased my knowledge about governance, and strengthened my leadership, communication and management skills. All these opportunities I have accessed on account of my YAM membership and the skills I am gaining are all helping me grow in my career path and preparing me for the workforce.
What have been some of your achievements as the YAM President?
Since my election as the YAM ACBEF President in 2016, I have been able to revive the activities in some YAM branches in the country -more so those that were dormant.
I have also worked with the youth and the ACBEF staff at the national level to advocate for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). Through my leadership, over 140 young volunteers have been trained on CSE. I intend to continue championing the CSE agenda in Congo, because I believe CSE has immense benefits for young people. CSE helps young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to make wise decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health.
What is your parting shot?
I always encourage young people to identify volunteer opportunities in credible organizations. Being engaged in this way will help them gain invaluable information and skills that will help them grow as individuals. The lessons learned and the experience gained from their voluntarism activities will also help prepare them for the job market. Being a volunteer with the Youth Action Movement has provided me with invaluable opportunities, and so I encourage other youth to join YAM in their countries.
Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama is the Governance & Compliance Officer, IPPF Africa Regional Office.
*About the Youth Action Movement (YAM)
The Youth Action Movement (YAM) is the youth arm of IPPF Africa Region's volunteer body based within the Member Associations (MAs), which catalyzes youth participation. The YAM structure enhances consultation and involvement of the youth. Recognizes the value of young people in health and development, the YAM enhances youth leadership in the Member Associations and beyond. If you are young person and would like to join the Youth Action Movement, see where we work and get in touch. You can also reach us through @YAM Africa