Reflections on 2018 – here we come, 2019!
Welcome to our very first blog post
2018 was a landmark year for us – it is the year that we officially launched the Afghan Youth Engagement and Development Initiative (AYEDI), the first Afghan youth-led organization in Canada with the broad goal of (1) cultivating civic engagement and political leadership skills in Afghan-Canadian youth and (2) building their personal and social development.
Here are some highlights of our past year:
- We went live with our website (www.ayedi.ca) and social media in May 2018
- Successfully launched our first ever Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) campaign to encourage Afghan youth to vote in the 2018 municipal elections
- Conducted 10 interviews with Afghan community leaders, trailblazers, and organizers
- Our work was featured in a CBC Interview with our Executive Director, and our VP was featured on Metro Morning with Matt Galloway
- Our social media posts reached over 12,000 individual people
- Secured ~$2,000 in funding
- Hit over 300 followers collectively on our Facebook and Instagram
We are just getting started! Our 2019 plans include:
- Launch a monthly blog and a bi-monthly newsletter (sign up for our email newsletter updates here – we promise to only email bi-monthly)
- Host our first ever Afghan-Canadian Youth Community Impact Conference
- Increase Afghan youth voter turnout in the 2019 Canadian federal elections
- Engage with politicians and community stakeholders on issues that Afghan youth face
- And much more that we can’t talk about yet! (but stay tuned)
Some people might wonder – what do we consider “youth”? We define “youth” as people aged 13 to 29 years old, which is consistent with the federal government’s definition. A huge focus for us in 2019 will be getting feedback from Afghan youth on what issues are important to them, and their proposed solutions to these issues. During a creative mapping session in a recent AYEDI team meeting, I asked my team the following question:
“What can decision-makers do to better support Afghan youth and their needs?”
Questions like these are important to think about. As Afghans well know, while there may be services available to us in our communities, they are not always culturally-sensitive, nor do they always go far enough to help address the unique issues that Afghan-Canadian youth and their families face. Even within our Afghan communities, Afghan youth do not always have the full support that they need. Afghans form the second highest population of refugees in the world (only after Syrian refugees due to the recent crisis), yet we don’t see issues of intergenerational trauma, displacement, and mental health discussed. Many Afghan families are concentrated in areas of Toronto that are low-income with high social assistance rates. There are issues of high school dropouts and crime involvement, particularly by young Afghan males. We know the problems. But what are the solutions? And how can we create change? In 2019, we hope to have this conversation.
We also want to start instilling the idea of community and advocacy in Afghans from a young age, as young as 13 years old, which will help build their character and the way they see their role in the world. Ultimately, this will ensure Afghan youth have the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to reach their full potential. This will require more programming, more outreach, and more education. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback on our GOTV campaign which has shown us that Afghan youth are open and eager to learn and see change.
We hope to continue having your support in 2019. Our team is greatly looking forward to continuing this much-needed work for our Afghan-Canadian youth. Our next blog post will be in February, where we will explore an issue facing Afghan-Canadian youth. You can always send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and suggestions.
From the AYEDI team, happy new year and best wishes to you and your family on the year ahead!
PS: Follow us on social media below where we post regular updates