Island News

Riding the rollercoaster with youths

Written By : MELA TUILEVUKA. Seeing is believing but experiencing what one goes through is important if we are to understand ones problems and hardships. This is what Usaia Cirikiwai
02 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : MELA TUILEVUKA. Seeing is believing but experiencing what one goes through is important if we are to understand ones problems and hardships.
This is what Usaia Cirikiwai Moli, 28, firmly believes as he voluntarily works with youths in the country.
The Nukutocia villager from Lovoni in Ovalau works with the Ministry of Youth and Sports on a volunteer basis to help implement youth projects and programmes.
He has been doing so for the past four years now and has also been doing odd jobs in between.
Usa as he is commonly known was once the Director of Chevalier Hostel for a period of two years.
“Working with youths is like a rollercoaster ride whereby we have our ups and downs,” he said.
“It is also a very interesting job as every person is different and they have their own needs.”
Usa who was at the one-day Ministry of Youth workshop on Divisional Youth Network at the Southern Cross three days ago said most of the youths in the country are very talented and they have potential to excel in their own areas of interest.
“I have found out during my time working with youths that most of them have potential to excel in their own areas of interest but the problem is there is lack of encouragement from others around them,” he said.
“Also along with the lack of encouragement, most of these don’t have the vision in seeing themselves achieve their goals and dreams.”
Usa added that it is always a challenge for him in trying to encourage youths to believe in themselves and have a vision.
“I am trying my best to get them to come out of their comfort zone because it is a norm that youths are being stereo-typed,” he said.
“I am trying to change their mind set as youths have a tendency to go about doing things on their own without thinking of the consequences.”
With a lot of awareness programmes about youth issues, Usa said this will not be fruitful if the youths themselves do not take advantage of what the it offers and see what benefits these programmes can bring about for them.
With his work with youths in Fiji, Usa said one of the major challenges in his career as a youth volunteer was during his Team Building Training programme.
The programme consists of people switching roles with street kids and shoe shine boys in order to get a feel of what they go through everyday.
Usa was fortunate enough to carry out this programme with the Australian/Fiji Community Justice Programme participants recently.
“The Team Building Training went on for three hours and participants were required to switch roles with street kids and shoe-shine boys,” he said.
“It was an eye opener for those participants that came from overseas as some of them had not even traveled by bus before,” Usa said.
“I wanted them to experience and have a feel of what it is like to be a street kid or a shoe shine boy,” he added.
Usa added that most of the overseas participants had a different perspective of Fiji whereby they only knew about the white sandy beaches and the friendly people.
“But during the Team Building Programme, I made sure they got to experience the other side of Fiji – the challenging life faced by youths today when they have to resort to the streets because of unemployment and other related issues,” he said.
Usa said that in order to better understand issues affecting youths today, one has to be able to walk in their footsteps.
He added only than are we able to tackle youth problems at lower levels rather than allowing it to drag on for future youths to follow suit.
Usa said one of his favourite quotes that keeps him going in his walk with the youths is that we should:
“listen to their whispers so we don’t have to hear their screams.”
“I normally keep this quote in mind wherever I go and whatever I do with the youths,” he said.
“I try to listen to their whispers and act on it rather than wait to act on their screams.”

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