Continuing our series on different types of youth work around the world, this week we have an interview with Johnah Josiah, a youth worker in Kenya.
1. What type of youth work do you do?
I work in youth and policy work development as well as life skills training.
2. What do you do in an average week?
I work in small group and large group settings, in both training and policy development, both in governments and non-governmental institutions.
I am also a program director of an international youth organization called International Youth Development Network which focuses on youth development projects.
3. How long have you been doing this?
Officially, I have been in youth work for 16 years dealing with youth development issues. I have been actively involved with policy issues for the last 6 years.
4. What age range do you work with?
I work with young people who are between the ages of 15 to 35 years of age.
5. What’s unique about your particular type of youth work?
My focus is fully on empowerment – both economic and participation through policy development, review and implementation.
6. What are some of the good things about your type of youth work?
The inner fulfillment when I achieve a certain goal/objective regarding empowerment and participation of young people.
7. What are some of the challenges of youth work in Kenya?
Dealing with government institutions has not been a piece of cake considering the fact that youth issues are not a priority to some. Legislatures have also always felt that it is threatening their career when young people have been empowered, hence it becomes hard to work with them
The young people themselves, it has been hard for them to understand the essence of empowerment because the majority of them are either not well informed or educated.
8. Why are you passionate about this type of youth work?
Honestly speaking, I feel relieved when I work on a policy document that targets empowerment of young people and giving them the power to make assertive decisions on their own.
9. What would you recommend for someone wanting to get into this type of youth work?
You need to have the patience and the skill to deal with both the legislature and the young people.
10. Is there any special training or qualifications required?
You need to have at least an ordinary degree in social development or developmental studies and must have practiced youth work for not less than five years or so.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
When focusing on youth development – especially on policy work – it’s important not to focus on short term goals because the implementation part is the most integral part of the policy. If wrongly interpreted, the results might not be interesting and not beneficial to anyone, bearing in mind that youth is a transitional period and if well nurtured then the results are worth celebrating.
Johnah Josiah is a specialist in policy development and entrepreneurial training, community development and gender issues.
He has over 10 years experience in project management and implementation, monitoring and evaluation. He has worked with the government of Kenya in the development of the Kenya National Youth policy, Ministry of Gender in development of the community development policy, setting up of the ministry of youth affairs and sports in the development of its strategic plan.
He has also worked with the Germany Development Cooperation GTZ, with the development of the youth diploma training manual. He has also worked with various organizations in the training of partner organization on entrepreneurship skills development and program evaluation.
Johnah has worked internationally for the Commonwealth secretariat as the Kenyan youth representative where he was tasked with policy development and mainstreaming youth issues within the government institutions. He has also worked at the Commonwealth Youth exchange council as an intern on program evaluation. Johnah has presented papers in different international and national forums ranging from the Commonwealth Heads of state meetings to UN nations.
Please feel free to use the comments below if you have any questions about youth work in Kenya. If you’re also a youth worker in Kenya, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments too.
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