Hola guapos! Friday 12 August 2016 was International Youth Day. This was designated by the UN General Assembly and had twelve main priorities. This year the main focus is ‘the road to 2030; eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable production and consumption.'

ICS (International Citizen Service) is aimed at young people, allowing youth from all around the world to work together, gain valuable cross-cultural experiences on global issues in a continually more globalised reality and empowers the local population to change their own situations by learning new skills and techniques.

The current world population is the youngest it has ever been - there are currently 1.8 billion young women and men. In a world that is shrinking due to technology, social media, and commerce, these young people are able to comprehend the changing world around them and its implications. The ICS programme is very important because a large proportion of young people live in countries affected by environmental change and poverty, due to high birth rates in areas that are less likely to have wide access to birth control and more traditional values surrounding family and gender roles. This is why we need development programmes that involve and educate these young people in order to see sustainable change into the future.

Volunteers planting a tree

Poverty is a relative situation. It is experienced all over the globe and largely affects young people, which is why the UN has chosen it as a focus for International Youth Day. In El Salvador, and rural areas like Arcatao especially, the stagnation of the economy and low wages for difficult agricultural work has left many young men without employment. This, coupled with the imported issue of gang culture from the United States of America due to deportation, has led to an increase in social poverty and an increased trend of families relying on remittances from abroad. 

Progressio are working in a handful of countries with ICS carrying many different initiatives to promote people powered development. Many programmes, including our own, are focused around sustainable development and climate change. To find out more about how teams have been targeting issues in their communities check out these blogs, which talk directly about the subject of climate change. If what you read excites you, why not sign up with ICS, become an active citizen and enjoy the experience of a lifetime whilst promoting positive change in the word! 

Volunteers making bio-bricks using recycled plastic bottles

For our group, Progressio is working in partnership with Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas, a local organisation in El Salvador. They focus on many things, including environmental issues, practical education projects and gender and community empowerment. One element that has been stressed is our integration into the community and how we, as youth participants, are considering ecological implications of our future and our work. This is everything from the environmentally-friendly bio-bricks we are using for our construction, to the recycling/reusing workshop planned by the Learning Team to be introduced into the local school. The promotion of women’s rights, equality between genders and the sustainability of our actions all directly link into the UN’s plan for the future of international youth.

Group photo of volunteers at mid-term debrief meeting

If you want to be involved, please share this blog and help us raise awareness by spreading the word!

Written by ICS volunteers Katherine Maloney, Katherine Maynard and Benjamin White