At the end of May in Garissa, Kenya, 2,000 energetic youth gathered to celebrate their role as change agents in their communities. They came a long way since 2008, when high unemployment and frustration fueled some of the worst post-election violence in Kenya’s history. For three years, USAID has invested in developing the leadership skills of vulnerable youth in Garissa and fostering linkages to the work place, through the Garissa Youth Project (G-Youth).

With help from USAID, Ifra has become a leader in her community. She now manages a radio station that educates and empowers youth. Photo Credit: Joan Lewa, USAID

I have come to get an interview with one of the youth. They all look so confident and enthusiastic. Where do I begin?

Just then a young lady approaches me and confidently says, “I need to tell you my story – to let people know how my life was transformed through the G-Youth project,” she tells me with a smile.

Her name is Ifra. She told me that after her mother died, her older sisters supported her through high school. Now 20-years-old, she lives on her own.

In 2010, Ifra joined USAID’s G-Youth Work Readiness Program, where she learned leadership, interpersonal and communication skills. While in the program, she participated in radio production training and received a certificate in journalism.

Since 2009, USAID has also provided 1,100 scholarships to Garissa youth like Ifra to attend university or technical skills training courses. Ifra received a G-Youth scholarship, and she is now pursuing an associate’s degree at the East African Media Institute.

USAID convened 2,000 young leaders in May to celebrate how their new skills are opening employment opportunities. Photo credit: Joan Lewa, USAID

Today, more than 2,500 youth are better positioned to pursue employment and livelihoods opportunities following the successful completion of the work readiness training. This program is part of USAID’s larger commitment to engaging African youth in development, which was most recently highlighted at the Young African Leaders Innovation Summit.

The Ifra I met today is now the studio manager of the G-Youth radio program. She and her colleagues produce 30 interactive life skills and civic education radio programs for STAR FM and Warsan FM. More than 644,318 youth have been reached through these radio programs. “Thanks to USAID, I am living my dream. My voice is heard on radio all over North Eastern Region, educating fellow Garissa youth on how to improve opportunities for themselves and their communities.” 

“May I conclude here Joan? I need to go back to the studio.” “Of course yes,” I replied. After all, she has work to do.

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