As the world celebrated International Youth Day on 12 August, all roads led to Mzuzu for a number of Progressio ICS Alumni, who joined their Lattitude counterparts, for the Malawi ICS Alumni Conference, organised by Lattitude Malawi and held in Mzuzu on August 15.

The event celebrated active citizenship and the amazing contributions of the Malawi national ICS volunteers during and after their (our) placements, and advocated for the Action Youth 2015 movement, which aims at encouraging youth participation and their involvement in eradicating poverty, decision-making and critical issues facing the world today.

We were introduced to the suggested Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are to be considered for incorporation and replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once they expire at the end of 2015. The alumni had a discussion on how the youth can directly contribute to the SDGs, the challenges facing the SDGs in Malawi, the way the youth can overcome those challenges to push forward the goals and the way forward on how we as ICS alumni can work together towards contributing to change in our country.

Deputy Head of DFID Malawi, Philip Smith, delivering a key note address during the event as the alumni listen attentively

The Deputy Head of the Department for International Development (DFID) in Malawi, Philip Smith graced the occasion with his presence. Mr Smith addressed the group on the work of DFID, and how determined DFID is to involve young people in Malawi in the design and implementation of development work. He also briefed us on the seven big issues that development partners are looking at with the Malawi Government, which include: effective and efficient basic social services, such as health and education for everyone, protecting Malawi natural resources and using them sustainably, among others.

One of the Progressio Malawi Alumni ICVs (Tamara Bota) emphasising a point as she summarised the rating on the SDGs the alumni prioritised as the ones they wanted to push ahead in their active citizenship efforts

The conference was an eye opener as we discussed and learnt about the SDGs, the huge impact the youth have in development and how young people can contribute to the key to the success of the SDGs. 

Coming to the end of the conference, the ICS Malawi Alumni agreed as active citizens to actively work on the three most top rated SDGs that we feel are important and need to be worked on urgently. The goals which were rated as the most top three and need to be worked on with urgency are Goal 1, Goal 5 and Goal 13. Goal 1 looks at ending poverty in all its forms everywhere for all people, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2030.  Goal 5 looks at achieving gender equality and empower women and girls, which aims at ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls. And Goal 13 looks at taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts and is aiming at strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

Progressio Country Manager, Thomas Msiska, offering closing remarks during the event

The event was also graced with the presence of Progressio Malawi Country Manager, Thomas Msiska, who in his closing remarks, applauded the Alumni for taking such a big step in contributing towards shaping the SDGs as youth. He also promised to work on helping the Alumni where necessary.

Written by ICS national Alumni Zamiwe Chisi and Taonga Mtambo. Photos by Timothy Banda and Taonga Mtambo