Aftershocks: Youth For Change Conference 2021
On 20-22 December 2021, 143 youths came together for the sixth edition of our annual Youth For Change Conference (YFCC). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, YFCC was once again held as an online event over Zoom. The theme of the conference this year was Aftershocks, and focused on the relatively less well-known, but no less severe, secondary impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and youth around the world. This includes heightened needs in humanitarian settings, damaged livelihoods, and aggravated child rights violations such as child labour and child marriage.
Over the three days, we had speakers from other World Vision offices share on issues that the countries they are working in are facing. They were each accompanied by a youth or community volunteer who shared their experiences in supporting their respective communities during the pandemic.
“Let’s remember that children are affected visibly and invisibly due to adverse circumstances”
– Sarah Bearup, WV Asia-Pacific
“There is hope for every child, even in the most dangerous places. Add your voice to global calls and speak for those affected by Covid-19.”
– Julie Lee, World Vision International
On Day 1, we had Ms. Sarah Bearup from WV Asia-Pacific share about how Covid-19 has impacted the most vulnerable children in the Asia-Pacific region in areas such as Mental Health, Child Protection, and Education, while Ms. Julie Lee from World Vision International shared about the Covid-19 challenges faced by refugee populations.
“World Vision Vietnam has been focusing on Covid-19 preventive measures to make sure that even vulnerable children are safe.”
– Vy Le Nguyen Hoang, WV Vietnam
“I want to say this to the youths, you really can make a big difference. I thank you for attending YFCC and wanting to be more informed. Help spread the word to those around you for the vulnerable children in the world.”
– Pearly Dawn Mijares, WV Philippines
Our youth panelists (clockwise from top right: Noormasliana, Chloe, Ashlyn, Nurmira) sharing about their projects and initiatives.
On Day 2, Ms. Vy Le Nguyen Hoang from WV Vietnam and Ms. Pearly Dawn Mijares from WV Philippines shared about how Covid-19 has affected their respective communities, Son Tra and Cebu, and how World Vision has been working on the ground to help. There was also a youth panel where youths were invited to share about the different initiatives they had been involved with over the past year that benefited different vulnerable groups in their communities.
“Child abuse looks different in every area of Cambodia. We have to adapt our actions and responses based on the area we are working in. Everybody plays a part in child protection.”
– Veasna Chhay, WV Cambodia
“Females in Bangladesh experience a lot of social barriers, so World Vision Bangladesh focuses on advocacy and campaign programmes, in hopes of breaking the barriers. Girls deserve to pursue education too.”
– Monju Maria Palmer, WV Bangladesh
On Day 3, the programme was focused on how Covid-19 has aggravated various children-related threats, and we had Mr Veasna Chhay from WV Cambodia speak the issue of Child Protection in Cambodia, while Ms Monju Maria Palmer from WV Bangladesh spoke on the specific issues of Child Marriage and Child Labour. To end off the conference, the participants were split into 2 different parallel tracks:
- Participants continuing on with YEP-GO projects after the conference, had the opportunity to dialogue with their respective World Vision field offices, and were able to ask questions to find out more about the beneficiaries they would be working with
- Independent registrants from Singapore were introduced to service-learning as well as volunteering opportunities by Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) staff, Ms. Chong Si Man, and Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) staff, Ms. Joyce Yu.
Hear what our participants had to say about YFCC 2021!
I found the sharing from World Vision staff and youths and community volunteers most enriching, as I learnt a lot about the various issues from the ground. I’m also deeply moved by the stories the youth and community volunteers shared and am greatly inspired by what they have done for their respective communities. I hope to be able to do the same for my country, and to extend this love to other countries as well. (Benjamin, 17)
It was enriching to hear from the different speakers, and it broadened my perspectives on how COVID-19 is severely affecting those all around the world. I’ve also learnt that youths and children and the next generation of change-makers, and have the power to make an influence the world. (Reuel, 17)
The talks by the different World Vision staff gave me a good understanding of the situation in other countries. It allowed me to be grateful of my own livelihood and condition of living in Singapore. It was also very inspiring to hear about the experiences of other youths, and I realised that age has nothing to do with the passion to make a difference. It was also quite eye opening to see that there are so many young children who are not properly enjoying their childhood due to various factors, and as people who are fortunate enough to have access to resources, we have a part to play in making a difference. (Saidah, 18)
I felt that the sharings were enriching and showed me a lot about issues I had not thought about or considered before. The way that the speakers shared also helped me to feel the direct impact and reality of the issues on the ground. (Wei Qi, 17)
YFCC opened my eyes to issues such as forced marriage in Bangladesh and Philippines. I feel grateful to be in Singapore, where we are more fortunate and have more opportunities to help make the world a better place for our peers. With World Vision’s help, I believe that we can suppor the less fortunate by ensuring that they get basic necessities and are able to go to school with a conducive environment for learning. (Ilham, 17)