Here at AMEL, we believe that the most effective way to bring about positive social and political change in Africa and the Middle East (MEA) is to empower young civil society activists on the ground and provide them with training and networks so that they can do their activism more safely and effectively. In the AMEL Institute Pilot Program, 100 activists from 32 countries across the MEA region engaged in an interactive online training program on human rights, conflict transformation, democratic development, activism safety, and stress, trauma, and self-care, and exchanged experiences and perspectives with trainers and fellow activists.
One trainee — a Rwandan university student with a passion for human rights and peace — shared the following.
“It was in April 1994 when my country [Rwanda] had a problem of genocide against Tutsi. When I was born, after that genocide, I used to think of how I can contribute to my country so that people in that country may live in a peaceful manner...My contribution will be to share with them the skills I have from AMEL so that they can adapt and implement peaceful means in their communities. I have learned things that are going to help me to achieve my goal of achieving human rights of everyone in my country.”
After graduating, he plans to start a social business that will help other young people generate income, learn skills, and ultimately catalyze changes in their views and actions.
Several trainees - both men and women - are fighting for women’s rights around the region, for example an activist from Algeria who wrote:
“Women’s right and gender equality are things that matter. I do believe that women are not receiving the credits they deserve and worse they are abused in the streets, work place and even in the ‘safest place for us’: HOME...I’m planning and shaping projects and programs where awareness regarding women’s rights and also spreading awareness among the young generation and youth, especially males.”
Another trainee was a young Palestinian from Gaza who is studying Psychology and striving for a better future for herself and those all over the region through activism. “By volunteering in psychological support’s organization, I have the opportunity to be directly engaged with people who suffer. I am keenly aware of my role to seek protection for victims of violence especially women and children through supporting and raising awareness of important psychological and social issues.” She wants to help get “ideas and encouragement for youth, so they can see the similarity in others and maybe start connecting and get some help from each other.”
Among the other trainees was a Tunisian who shared insights about fighting discrimination and reducing inequalities. He coordinated a conference to facilitate engagement and dialogue about obstacles faced by Tunisian people of color, which resulted in the development of a “mobile application that will help victims of racism to easily report and obtain help from the nearest checkpoint in their time of need.” AMEL Institute helped him understand key stress and trauma issues that he and his peers may be facing, which was something he “didn't pay attention to and it caused many burnouts and anxiety problems previously.”
The AMEL Institute, and programs like it, bring together innovative young activists in Africa and the Middle East who are already successfully organizing for change in their own communities and beyond. They are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they are already creating positive change today!