Say Yes, to go on a community service exchange programme
Why launch sayXchange?
SayXchange was developed by the Southern African Trust, in collaboration with implementing agency AFS Interculture South Africa, following the xenophobic attacks in South Africa during the first half of 2008. These attacks were sad examples of a lack of knowledge, ill-informed preconceptions and a poor understanding of the different realities and social issues that plague the countries of the southern African region.
Social issues such as poverty, poor education, high unemployment rates and HIV/AIDS are common factors across southern African countries. Unfortunately, projects aimed at tackling these issues operate mostly within national borders and often with a very local focus. As a result, there is little sharing of successes and failures across southern African countries and there is a lack of understanding about the similarities and differences that exist amongst the citizens of the region. The peoples of southern Africa generally lack a shared sense of belonging to the southern African region as a whole - a shared southern African regional identity.
SayXchange crosses borders and aims to promote regional integration and a southern African regional identity amongst young people. This aim supports the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) vision of a common future for southern Africa; a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improved standards of living and quality of life as well as freedom, social justice, peace and security for all the peoples of southern Africa. This is anchored on the common values and principles and the historical and cultural affinities that already exist between the peoples of southern Africa.
What will you do as a sayXchange participant?
SayXchange aims to be one of many cross-border exchange programmes in the southern African region that encourage and stimulate youth civic engagement. Young people will be encouraged to become positive influences in their communities and countries and encouraged to become the key drivers in overcoming poverty in the southern African region.
In its initial phase in 2010, the programme consisted of a five-month exchange programme between young people in South Africa and Mozambique who were placed in community-based organisations (CBOs) in the country to which they were sent. A total of 20 individuals between the ages of 18 to 25 years (10 from each country) were chosen to participate in the programme. In 2012, SayXchange expanded to Malawi. In 2013, SayXchange further extended to Zambia. In 2014 we will continue implementation in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa.
Participants will be selected from those who were or who are involved in some form of volunteer or community based work in their home country. The community based organisations with which participants will be placed in the host country are mainly active in impoverished and underprivileged areas of South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. Whilst volunteering and engaging with the projects run by the community based organisations, participants will be involved in various activities such as assisting community members with community programmes and they will learn about development and the importance of volunteering, building up leadership skills and much more.
After selecting the participants through personal, group and home interviews, two orientation sessions will take place prior to the start of the exchange. During the exchange, there will be two further orientation sessions involving all participants.
What are the benefits of sayXchange?
The main outcomes of the southern Africa youth exchange programme are to:
- Promote regional integration and a southern African regional identity amongst young people who are emerging leaders in their communities.
- Encourage and support youth engagement in civic affairs: Sustainable development occurs when investments are strategic and relevant to both the needs and capacities of local communities. Investing in the youth is a starting point for sustainable development as it produces valuable social returns. The entire community benefits when families, communities and institutions invest in the character, civic skills and leadership of young people.
- Set a path for the development of future leaders with a broader regional perspective: When young people are seen as part of the solution to our social problems in southern Africa, their, values, skills and energy can stimulate positive change in communities.
- Engender a clearer understanding of different cultures and the social issues in another country in the southern Africa region.
- Increase understanding of the power of volunteerism as an important building block for strengthening civil society.