Youth ACT Spain - Madrid Group
YOUTH ACT SPAIN - MADRID
Youth ACT Madrid’s mission is to bring an educational opportunity to young people from the refugee camps. The project was born from the desire of helping refugee citizens in Madrid. We understood that the best way to help other people is to delve deeper into their history and walk alongside them. Due to this, we aim to establish a connection and a personal link between the young Saharawi`s and the members of EDIW-Galaxia. The use of new technologies to assure an environment of motivation that can guarantee individual and group formation. And last but not least, to offer them educational tools in order to help them to develop their own future and guide them through their dreams and aspirations.
Youth ACT Madrid’s vision is to do our bit to encourage young Saharawi’s who have less resources and opportunities, who are suffering the consequences from the war, but who still have dreams and desires to learn.
Since the group decided to create this project, we have done different activities. First of all, we carry out the project writing of eBridge and we organized a meeting to share the bases of the project with the entity that provided us with the money for the tablets.
Since that day we have done many logistic operations in order to get ready for the launch of the pilot project in the summer. This pilot was a success so at the beginning of September we organized different meetings in order to get to know more people who would help us in this project, giving classes to the Saharawi’s.
In the near future, we plan to continue giving classes but our big dream is to make our work something permanent. So next generations and more children would have this opportunity to learn and use technologies they do not normally own.
Our goal is to positively impact the lives of the young Saharawi’s. motivating them to dream big and give them the tools to achieve them.
Slack: an indispensable tool, a perfect showcase (by Ruth Molero Malvárez)
The digital application or platform SLACK, the tool EDIW decided to use for the development of the project, has been at all times an essential workspace for the implementation and running-in of the entire methodology carried out from the beginning. Slack has facilitated communication both internally, between members of the same team, and externally, establishing contact between groups from anywhere in the world, so that the members of this “big family”, made up of members of the organization and volunteers, were aware of the activities carried out by all colleagues, the different points of view of the issues addressed and the results obtained. The Youth Act project, distributed in four semesters according to the planning of the work structure, starts
in EDIW Madrid, within the Slack application, on 2 January 2020. On this date, the activity that had already started in the previous quarter started to publish. Most of the meetings and face-to-face sessions were held at the facilities of the Colegio Mayor Padre Poveda, with their consequent echo on the digital platform.
Initially, topics of general interest, social awareness, political or environmental content were addressed by a committed youth willing to change the world by sharing their time and knowledge for the sake of a constructive and supportive objective. In this way, and with this shared enthusiasm and ideals, the first
session began on 26 September 2019 under the title “Migrations and climate change”.
The sessions of the following months continued along the same thematic lines, such as the documentary “Philippines 360o, resilient communities”, supported by virtual reality for its exhibition. Of particular interest was the testimony of the engineer Tateh Lehbid,”the crazy man of the desert”, a
Sahrawi refugee who shared his brilliant idea of building houses in the camps from plastic bottles filled with sand. It was wonderful to hear first-hand about a highly creative and generous initiative. “Ecological Footprint” was another of the interesting sessions held at Youth-Act where Fernando Sancho
Royo, university professor and environmental expert, led this meeting on sustainability. All these presentations and conferences were followed by feedback on the platform, where complementary material such as videos, images and summaries of the discussions, minutes of the meetings
and the different approaches or points of view analysed were always shared.The foundations of the various international projects are taking shape. “What’s happening in Cameroon?” ispresented, in which Mikkika, in person, narrates her experience of leaving Carmerún, showing her concern
for the situation in her country and the apparent lack of solutions. Teresa also presents “The Philippines, a country affected by climate change”. These were initial perspectives of reality to initiate a long journey.
On 21 November 2019, the session began with a discussion on the fundamentals of youth policy, starting with the following question: How can we influence the youth policies of governments? The working groups were then formed and the different frameworks for action, issues to be addressed, as well as the follow-up and monitoring of the work to be carried out, were discussed.
During the first semester, this Youth-Act Madrid group dealt with topics of current interest to Madrid’s youth, ranging from migration and the environment to democratic participation. They also focused on specific cases such as the Philippines and Western Sahara. Arguably, this is the seed of what will later become the eBridge project, which was born with the intention of using digital media for education in rural areas of Western Sahara.
On 2 February 2020, the EDIW International Meeting was held in Los Negrales, when the Slack platform was formalized as a workspace and publicly presented as an essential tool for communication, management and organization of the different groups and channels.
The second half of the year was marked by an unexpected incident: the confinement as a result of the Covid health crisis. This stage was mainly focused on the issue of disinformation and fake news and it was decided to analyse it seriously information and communication and tackle the problem. To this end, all kinds of online sessions and webinars were organized in which the young people from Madrid participated and which, of course, had the Slack platform as the main stage and canter of operations, which took on a special role in this crisis situation.
We are in the stage that Youth-Act dedicated to Participation in Information and Communication Processes. On 2 March, within the framework of Women’s Week, Ana Pastor, a public figure in the world of information in our country, visited the Colegio Mayor Padre Poveda. The young people from Madrid enjoyed an interesting meeting with the well-known journalist, founder of Newtral.es and director of El Objetivo.
The session entitled “The Information Map” took place telematically, rather than in person. Material published in different media continued to be shared and uploaded to the platform, with the intention of continuing to deepen the knowledge of different personal and social attitudes. The webinars and online
meetings continued, in which information was provided about the virus and its social repercussions at different levels: social, emotional, political, etc. During the summer, the webinar was designed with preparation and rehearsal sessions. First aid workshops were also organized for the Sahrawi camps.
Gradually, the third semester of Youth-Act was introduced in a first session on 18 October 2020. This new block of activity, aimed at Participation and decision-making. Digital meetings were combined with face- to-face meetings. This is when the idea of the eBridge project began to take shape, taking its first steps from EDIW Madrid. A series of sessions were held from the first presentation: “Methodology of roles and
personal knowledge”, “The life of a nomadic child”, “Test results and team map: role assignment” and “Make decision process”. All of them with the corresponding sharing of documents, tests, teamwork and minutes.
On 28 December, an interesting virtual conference was organized on Western Sahara, whose speakers were two university professors, the president of the Polisario Front at the UN and Nana Burham, a young Sahrawi living in Spain. The forum spoke of this “bridge generation”, determined and committed, which would serve as the inspiration for the name of the new educational project in Western Sahara, which was beginning to see the light of day and which from that moment began to take centre stage within the group, which concentrated all its forces and energy on planning and drafting it. One of the attendees at the forum offered an amount of money eight thousand dollars if they prepared a project on education in Western Sahara
Numerous meetings and preparation sessions followed, with presentation of ideas, needs studies, questionnaires, commissions, competencies, etc., until the review, preparation and rehearsal of the project’s presentation webinar, or what could be called its staging, i.e. the official presentation of eBridge
in May, in its pilot project mode. From that moment on, a large number of meetings with beneficiaries, volunteers, partners and the rest of the group took place in order to finally implement the project’s objectives. Among other things, expenses and their justification were discussed, for example, the support
material that would be needed, such as tablets, to connect and to be able to teach the classes in digital format.
The pilot project was a success, so it was expanded and took shape with the intention of reaching a larger number of beneficiaries or target groups. There was no choice but to split the working groups in order to address the various planned objectives. Youth-ACT Madrid was looking for which minority to focus on in order to work on their participation, without knowing that this minority was getting in the way.
The last part of Youth-Act Madrid was completed, the minority was identified and the action had become a real project. They bought 17 tablets for the children of the Sahara who, in the middle of the desert, from their tents, learned to take photos, post emails, tell them about their day-to-day life, and wait since morning for their friends in Madrid to answer their emails. …. So eager were the children, they could not correspond to the time of the students and they understood that they needed help. They went to the universities and told them the story and asked for help – more than 60 responded. Then Youth-Act Madrid understood that it could offer it to children from other countries: Peru, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic….
More children were asking for more volunteers and the word was spreading. By October 14, 2022, the end date of Youth-Act, this action had spread to more than 265 children and 206 volunteers.
On 25 November, a face-to-face meeting of volunteers took place in what has always been the home or
“logistical centre” of this well-favored family of young people in solidarity, the Colegio Mayor Padre Poveda, where after having shared so many months of work together, they were able to evaluate, exchange impressions, think together, get to know each other better and, above all, continue helping the
children of the Sahara.
Right at the start of 2022, this group launches its latest project: EYA, “European Youth Agora”. On the occasion of the celebration of the European Year of Youth 2022, this group of unstoppable and determined young people organised a series of webinars with the participation of experts on topics relevant to
European youth, with the aim of creating debate and providing these young people with a forum to share and expose their ideas while forging critical thinking.
The experience of working with the Slack platform, as a support and record, was a real success. An ideal space to exchange opinions, resources, concerns and support material. It could be said that this dynamic group of Youth-Act Madrid, full of ideas and initiatives, "died of success" with the materialisation of a dream that is now a reality, and Slack leaves a “trace” of all of this.
This application shows perfectly the development of the Youth-Act programme from the beginning, worked day by day by the different groups. Some topics gave way to others. It began by laying the foundations of what would later become a project that became a reality. Its protagonists, the hard-working workers who are these young people full of passion, motivation and dedication, who put all their heart and soul into it, and all their weapons made up of knowledge, time, solidarity and the desire to learn. The fruit obtained could not have been other than an unbeatable result and the satisfaction of homework well done. Youth- Act was an inspiration, a dream but it was also and above all a reality.
Semester 4-Minority participation
e-Bridge Project (by Marta Rodriguez)
e-Bridge was born unplanned. In November 2020 war broke out in Morocco, we saw it in the news and on social media, but for us it was not just another news item, it was close to our hearts as three of our colleagues were from the Sahrawi refugee camps. During a meeting of the EDIW Madrid youth group, our colleagues told us how they and their families were living in this situation.
As a result, there were protests and demonstrations in the streets of Madrid, but our group, following the slogan “Dreamers and Doers”, wanted to do something more. International relations students, who were part of the team, started to prepare a webinar to talk about the situation and, from which, we would learn a little more about the history of Morocco and Western Sahara. In addition to the Ediw group and the speakers, this meeting was attended by many people who were interested in knowing and understanding the reasons behind the conflict. The webinar ended and everyone went back to their routine, until one day in one of those daily group meetings, Ana and Julia told us that there was a person in the webinar who,
after seeing the desire we had to contribute our grain of sand, offered to finance an educational project for us.
This was a turning point for us, as we had no experience writing projects. Although it was something new and unknown to us, the desire to help those children whose dreams were fading away due to the situation they were living in, motivated us to continue. So we got down to work, we thought about what would be most important to pass on to these children, what they would like to learn and what would be useful for
In May we finished writing the project and it was time to present it to the foundation to see if they liked it and if they would grant us the funding. A few weeks later they told us that they would give us the money to do a pilot project, so we started to set the project in motion. Some were in charge of selecting the tablets that the children would use, others bought them and gave them to the children, other colleagues were selecting the subjects that we would teach in the pilot and how we would organise ourselves, as it was a holiday and not all of us were available on all the dates when there was a session.
Finally the pilot was finished and when we came back from holidays we were told that the project would continue. This news made us very excited, but what struck us most was that a simple meeting gave rise to the project that is currently in more than 11 cities in Europe, America and Asia. We could never have imagined how much it has grown in such a short time.
From inception to the present day, e-bridge has been a project that has changed lives.
The summary of this activity is reflected in the announcement that it was prepared for the semester starting in September 2022 and that it was carried out by more than two hundred volunteers and as many children, as it is a personalised learning system.