Fostering youth participation at home and speaking out abroad
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan, 22 March 2007 - Olamafruz Kurbonali, 15, is playing an important role in moderating local debate clubs. Debate clubs are all about helping young people to develop their confidence and ability to express their views on issues that affects their lives. They discuss issues such as a healthy life style and HIV/AIDS.
“We are trying our best to create the culture of participation and speaking up on issues. We are also learning to listen to each other and debate in constructive ways,” he said.
Earlier this month, Olamafruz participated in BioVision World Life Sciences Forum in Lyon. He, along with other young people from different regions, joined world leaders in science, society and industry. Because of his energy and commitment to youth participation, he had been selected from over 100 participants at a UNICEF Youth Consultation in the country to represent Tajik youth at this international conference on the role and contribution of Life Sciences to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
During the Forum, Olamafruz made a recommendation to conduct the next BioVision meeting in Tajikistan, where one can see how poverty really affects people’s lives.
The Forum gave an incredible opportunity to young people to discuss important issues with scientists, even Nobel Prize winners.
Olamafruz contributed to the discussions in the working groups. One of his priorities was to ask how we can tackle HIV and AIDS. He also questioned scientists on how climate change could affect countries such as Tajikistan, where economic development is still slow, yet where future industrial and economic growth might also have a negative impact on the environment.
Olamafruz says he is grateful for new experiences provided by BioVision in France. It was his first trip outside Tajikistan.
‘My family is proud of me,” he said. “It was a very good learning and growing opportunity for me.” He now feels it’s even more important that he develops his own knowledge and education and spread the word among other young people to become involved as much as possible in discussing and shaping the issues which affect their lives.