Two Girls, Two Countries, One Thread: Hope for the Future

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Nzambi is 13 and lives in Kenya. Precious, 17, lives in Nigeria. Both girls count YTF’s flagship program – YTF Academy – as their opportunity to not only hone in on their future aspirations, but build a path to reach them confidently.

YTF Academy is uniquely positioned to help youth eliminate a life lived in poverty – often aiming for things they didn’t know were possible. The program operates with a curriculum based on principles and flexes to meet the needs of differing populations and circumstances.

Attitude is first. YTF Academy students are taught to dream. They are guided to tackle issues with a can-do attitude and encouraged to participate actively in the learning process.

Within this empowering context, students are taught to be both innovative and effective. Things like creativity and critical thinking top the list of skills students should walk away with upon graduation.

Health Issue Turns Into Inspiration

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Nzambi is recovering from an infection that started after an ordeal that left her with multiple fractures on her left leg. She can’t play much, but notes her favorite subjects are science and Kiswahili – which she loves to speak.

In the course of her treatment she had to be admitted at the Kenyatta National Hospital for eight months. It is here that she noted the inefficiencies that plague a well-meaning workforce. In particular, she recalls Kenya’s biggest referral hospital having its reception area crammed with patients needing emergency attention.

“I would like to use the computer to come up with systems that would see to it that patients are attended to quickly and appropriately.”

She explains that as much as she likes the computer, she does not get to spend much time on it at home. When she does get a minute, she listens to her favorite musicians. She was particularly pleased to spend extra time at a computer and learn to code “Scratch” during the coding week at with YTF.

Besides a technology solution to facilitate faster admissions and attention in hospitals, Nzambi wants to learn how to use technology to establish easier ways of recording and sharing music videos.

On becoming a producer with 3D printing

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Proud graduate of YTF Academy, Precious holds up her certificate.

Young people in Africa make up nearly 40 percent of today’s working-age population, yet 60 percent are unemployed. Looking to the future, the World Bank estimates that some 11 million youth will enter Africa’s labor market every year for the next decade. 

Precious is a secondary school graduate awaiting admission into university to study nursing. Since enrolling in YTF Academy, Precious has learned to use Autodesk Fusion360 to design and model 3D printed items. Some of her product designs are proudly displayed on Thingiverse. 

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Precious, far left, learning from 3D printing teacher Donatus, middle, about the steps necessary to design 3D printed products.

A mismatch exists between the African education system and the jobs in a knowledge-based economy. Too many young graduates are earning degrees only to find that they are not qualified for lucrative employment opportunities, largely due to the lack of basic, technical and transferable skills.

YTF Academy is changing that by providing youth with marketable skills so that they have choices; as enthusiastic employees or as job creators themselves. 

“Being a student of YTF Academy and learning about 3D printing technology has taught me that as a  young entrepreneur, I can meet my communities needs without depending on any producer or supplier,” Precious explained. “Having these skills will enable me to continue to be relevant in the global marketplace. Maybe one day I will be able to 3D print medical devices and other parts.”

Happy Work Anniversary to Me

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Today marks my one year anniversary at Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) as a Program Coordinator.

It is an incontrovertible fact that I have been advanced both intellectually, experientially, and skillfully. I can boldly say that I am at the Right Job for me. What many people consider as the Right Job, may provide significant financial rewards.  My view is different. Financial rewards are a part of that but not all.  I think a job that gives me inner satisfaction, peace of mind, exposure to the world and use of Information and Communication Technology tools, is what I consider as Right Job and YTF has given me all these and more. I have not only been exposed to the wider world, but I have been made part of this generation that use ICT as a tool for social change.

The motherly and erudite advice I receive from the YTF Executive Director has further expanded my intellectual bandwidth. The friendship that exists among staff of YTF is one of the things that gladdens my heart.

 YTF has given me opportunities to grow while making a positive difference in the lives of others.  No other organization can come close to that. 

There is the saying that “to work is to pray” but it means more than that at YTF, to work is to “live and pray.” I have serious passion for the work I do at YTF and I can comfortably say that “working with YTF has added more value to my existence.” YTF is part of my life and existence.  Many thanks to YTF.

I love it here.

 


Ifeoma Isiogu is a Program Coordinator – Gender Empowerment Programs at Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF).  She writes from Imo State, Nigeria, where she works at YTF’s Africa headquarters.  Ifeoma is a mentor to many of our youth clients, particularly girls interested in pursuing a career in ICT.  In addition, she delivers training, provides linkages and advice to women entrepreneurs in YTF’s programs.