HERstory: Meet Gloria, a Youth Advocate

Who is Gloria?

Gloria uses her voice to empower youth in her community (Photo: Steve Kagia/Amref Health Africa).

Gloria is a youth advocate in Dagoretti, one of the largest urban informal settlements in Kenya. Dagoretti, which lies on the outskirts of Nairobi, is a neighborhood with high levels of poverty and unemployment, particularly among youth. Since 2000, Amref has supported the youth of Dagoretti through the Child Protection and Development Centre where youth can develop their skills in a variety of disciplines such as music, art, photography and video and access entrepreneurial and job skills training. Gloria is a youth advocate at the Child Protection and Development Center in Dagoretti who helps youth find what they are passionate about to help steer them away from drugs and crime.

Youth Engagement is Key for the Future

“My name is Gloria. I’m 20 years old and I’m an advocacy officer. I am also an actress and I work in theater and use these skills to engage youth on important issues

Through my advocacy work, I bring a voice of reason to the youth about sensitive topics such as drug abuse. I try to influence young people in various activities, for example in I organize events called ‘talent searches’ where I try to help youth find their true talent. I also provide acting workshops and help to empower youth by taking the stage and speaking in front of an audience.”

 

What is meaningful youth engagement to you?

“Meaningful youth engagement to me are activities that empower and involve youth. These activities can be all sorts of things like art, sports, talent search etc. as long as we come together and do it together with youth.”

 

How has COVID-19 affected your community and your work?

“It’s very unfortunate but I see a lot of young people getting deeper into poverty. They lose jobs and out of misery they get into drug abuse which they can’t get out of easily. I also see that young people get into trouble, for example theft, because they don’t have money for food and supplies. I hope that there will be more jobs available soon so we can stop this.

Through acting, I bring my voice to them and arrange discussions and educational sessions but it is hard to do my work because the schools are closed.”

 

What motivates you to do this work?

“First of all, I love acting; it’s my passion in life. I get to reach many people and I think it’s great to talk to youth and hear their experiences. I know what they are thinking, what keeps them busy, the challenges they face and the solutions they need. I hope I can continue with this work and inspire young people to raise their voices. Because of acting they will feel less ashamed if they talk in front of a big group. I hope that my sessions and workshops will motivate them to raise their voice.”

 

Final Call to Action!

“I hope this day will bring unity among young people, bring them together and learn more about equality. I hope that together we can bring an end to discrimination and favorism in cultures and traditions.”

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