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From London to Addis Ababa, becoming an African Union Youth Volunteer by Jordi Reo

March 24th, 2020

The journey started in June 2018 by submitting my application to become an African Union Youth Volunteer, from my house in Stepney Green in London. It was a long time that I was wishing to contribute to Africa’s development and at the same time living in the continent.

The AU-YVC is a flagship program of the African Union which recruits, trains and deploys 200 young Africans to work as professional volunteers in all 55 AU Member States every year. It targets youth aged 18-35 from across the Continent and the Diaspora, to serve for a period of 12 months in their respective fields of expertise in an AU Member States other than their own. AUYVC was launched on December 5, 2010 as the largest pan African volunteer and exchange program and works towards the realization of the AU Agenda 2063 – a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa driven by its citizen.

I was born in Europe in the 90s, my parents moved here seeking for a better life and complete their studies. They give birth to an African Diaspora citizen and European by birth. During my childhood I was lucky to know both sides, being in touch with my cousins back home and attending local festivities. However, through adolescence I got disconnected from my African origin, school didn’t help to portrait a good picture of the continent, neither European society.

Almost every comment coming from Africa was negative!

However, when I was at University studying International Business, the discourse started to change; economically Africa had a big potential and the fastest growing economies in the last 20 years are found in the continent.

In February 2019, I received my position confirmation and I moved to Paris to improve my French and research and see with my own eyes the impact of “Françafrique”. In May, I transferred to Malabo to advocate about the program and connect with Youth-led CSO and get to know the needs and realities of the Youth which I would advocate after from African Union.

My transition from London to Addis Ababa, I have to recognize, have been done under a privilege position. I was moving to work on the largest continental body and without having to worry on the basic needs, i.e: Health Care, Safety,… which many fellow Africans don’t fully benefit. Moreover I was provided with an AU Laissez-Passez Passport that allows me full mobility across all Africa with no need of Visa issues, again something hard for most citizens.

However, working in the highest continental institution, is not easy. Most things are still to be done, and the organization is understaffed, which implies plenty of work and extra hours. Project implementation evolves at turtle steps, every initiative has to be validated with Member States, elaborated with Partners and other Departments, and efficient communication tools are not in place. This causes apathy and the wish to contribute to Africa’s development and integration evaporates and is replaced by inside work.

Nevertheless, things, compare to 10 years are moving faster and coincidently the AUYVC program is turning 10 years. The contribution of the Youth is tangible and gives hope and motivation to continue working hard.

I have had the chance to meet wonderful minds from the 55 African Countries, I have travelled to north, west, central, east and south advocating for a true sense of Pan-Africanism and on-behalf of the Youth in the continent and the Diaspora.

My one year is arriving to an end, but based on the needs, I see myself developing a career advocating on the implementation of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and breaking the gap that exist between the Diaspora and the Continent using the network I am creating and the knowledge I am absorbing.

My final words are to recommend all youth who are reading this article is to show interested for projects on the continent on their field of interest, and to have a Pan-African though on their actions. Don’t let the limitation set by many African Governments stop you to reach and generate hope for the people.

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