How do we promote Human Rights and work for International cooperation in times of Covid19? The Yes, We KENya! experience
What about international cooperation and Covid19?
Recently, Europe kind of went back to a “normal life”. Thanks to the rapid spreading of the vaccine to be protected from Covid-19 and the use of the green-pass. We’re probably far from completely recovering, especially due to this particularly contagious new Omicron variant. But we still get to live a lot of the experiences that were denied to us for a year or two.
This means that, even if with a lot of precautions and attentions, it’s now possible participating again in most of the mobilities and actions of the Erasmus+ program and more. So great news, considering that the European Year of Youth is here, and it will be full of events! But what happens when you’re working in the international cooperation field? And you need to develop activities with your partners outside European borders?What’s the colour of the traffic light: green, yellow or red? This is what the participants and partners of the Yes,We Kenya! project found out in the previous months.
The Yes,We Kenya! experience
Yes, We Kenya! is a capacity building Erasmus+ project in the field of youth. Its aim was empowering trainers in their ability to use Non-Formal Education techniques and Human Rights Education with young people. By acquiring skills in these fields and by promoting active citizenship, social inclusion, democratic values and Human Rights, of course.
3 phases were foreseen in the project:
- a Training Course,
- the realization of local activities in the 3 countries involved,
- a final event for the presentation of the results of the activities implemented and the final toolkit and video to enable other organization around Europe to replicate the successful actions.
It was the far 2019 when its partner association, AICEM (Italy) ASES (Spain) and YES INTERNATIONAL (Kenya), decided to try to realise something meaningful for the young people of their countries. Early 2020 when the project was actually starting. Clearly, COVID-19 was nowhere to be imagined by anyone. And then everything changed, the traffic light turned red, and the 21 participants to the first Training Course foreseen by the project needed to wait until March 2021 to meet for the first time, in Nairobi.
How to deal with Covid19?
Despite the difficulties faced, and the time needed to wait in order to re-start all the processes, the goal of the partners was still there and very clear. After connecting for so long online, to keep contacts and keep working for what was possible, people finally had the possibility to travel. The light turned green-ish again, at least for Europeans travelling outside their borders for recognized and approved reasons, and the participants jumped on the opportunity quickly!
The safety measures established for the participation to the in person event were very high, though. Covid test were required, constant use of masks and sanitiser, physical distance as much as possible and limited contacts outside the project group. It surely was a stressful procedure to be followed for the whole duration of the staying, but it finally allowed people to know themselves and establish a relationship to further work together.
What was learned about international cooperation and Covid19 during this though time
What was proved in this experience is that working online really helps when it comes to not losing the contact with the people you’re working with. And, of course, when for a geographical need you don’t have any other possibility.
But let’s say that the whole team agreed on recognising the effectiveness of cooperation when in persons meetings are involved.
Meeting and interacting is the true generator of new ideas and of a sustainable path of empowerment. Creating a true relationship with people is what makes the process going, what makes a person grow and what should be privileged, even in the extreme case of only cooperating online. The actors of cooperation should be allowed to empathise with the others, to have a privileged point of you on the life of their peers living on the other side of the world and to have the chance to actively break the stereotypes and misconception about different cultures.
So, should international cooperation try to invest more in this aspect to be more effective? Yes, We Kenya!’s partners are positive about that.
And in the end, it can be said that those are the characteristics that really makes the colour of their traffic light green.