Foreword Alumni Booklet

In the spirit of ‘amplifying youth voices’ the Southern African Alumni Network (SAAN) aims to use this Alumni Booklet as a vehicle to bring awareness to alumni change stories to illustrate the impact that exchange can have on young people. Young people from West, Central, East and Southern Africa are well represented in this booklet. Highlighting the impact exchange has on their lives and their communities.These stories have been collected by the Southern African Alumni Network with the close support of the African-German Youth Initiative (AGYI).

SAAN is a network run voluntarily to represent the interests of exchange alumni. The network was founded in 2017 and has since its inception made significant progress to reach alumni in Southern Africa and beyond. Currently SAAN has a growing of membership of 45 members led by 5 elected board members. They aim to represent the interests of alumni, capacitate exchange alumni, support with reintegration after exchange and act as an information hub through its social media platforms used to share opportunities and engage with people.The network was formed within the framework of the AGYI, but it is very much a youth envisioned, youth led network of highly motivated and inspirational young people who are highly invested in the improving the support to exchange alumni.

The African-German Youth Initiative (AGYI) supports young people in developing their potential and participating in political and social development processes through youth exchange projects, voluntary services and returnee activities with a focus on sustainable development. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ strengthens resources, competencies and capabilities in the African partner structures at a continental level of the African Union Commission as well as in the pilot countries, Benin, South Africa and Tanzania.

This network is very much a representation of the alumni work within AGYI in general, where an emphasis has been put on investing in exchange alumni to strengthen existing exchange programmes and multiply the impact of exchange in local communities. After their exchange, volunteers have not only grown in terms of their intercultural competences and language skills, but also gained valuable personal and professional experience. The AGYI builds on these experiences and supports various measures to strengthen returned volunteers in their role as multipliers in the sense of global learning and local development.

This booklet of inspiring exchange stories illustrates how exchange and subsequent alumni work is:

  • A tool to connect young people and engage them to have a voice and influence

  • Enables young people to be at the forefront of affecting change within their communities along the SGD´s and Agenda 2063

Alumni, facts and figures

  • 500+ Incoming participants across exchange programs (ENSA, weltwaerts-Begegnungen, Weltwaerts South North) from AGYI pilot countries

  • 75% of alumni stated that their opportunities to engage in sustainable development projects have improved

  • 50 Innovative Alumni Exchange follow-up projects to be implemented in the frame of the AGYI Innovation Fund

  • 600 PLUS Young Africans who have benefitted from activities in the frame of the AGYI


Alfred Dohou- Benin- The Friedrich Ebert Foundation's "Benin Youth Leaders" (JLB)
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation's "Benin Youth Leaders" (JLB) Programme enabled me to understand, through youth exchanges: the political history of Benin since the Independence until 2018, Benin's institutions and architecture, the main symbols of citizenship (the flag, national anthem, currency, seals, hierarchy and military ranks) and the state-citizen relations for smooth development. 
We are convinced that the African youth are in need of reference points and role models in order to put themselves in better positions. We are committed to working towards this goal.

Benisia Nambundunga-Namibia -ASA
I was tasked with raising awareness among French youth on issues related to intercultural and global citizenship. I had to encourage them to commit to international mobility and civic engagement. 
Volunteering highlights the importance of understanding the world and accepting others despite our differences. It also highlights the importance of sharing values of peace and solidarity. 
To me, international volunteering means opening to the world and to have a bigger impact on the communities at home. I am proud to serve the world as a young person because us youth are a positive force serving humanity.

Bryan Majola-  South Africa-  ASApreneurs Summer School
Exchange programs have had a positive impact on my life personally and for my business. I quickly learnt that the most important part of an exchange program is the network you build. 
Through this network, I have been able to grow my business in various ways. In two instances, I have been able to start two new businesses with friends from exchange programs. One of the businesses has even received its first order from a local organization. 
The other is going to take a bit more time in research and development. There are two others in the pipeline. Collaboration is Key.

 Bahi privat Fred - Côte d'ivoire - Act To Build 
In 2016, I started volunteering to advocate for children's rights. Back then, we were called "child reporter" and now "youth reporter". We are ambassadors of children and youth’s human rights. The project was launched by "Children Foundation Radio, with the financial support of the United Nations. 
As I was growing up and getting involved into students' associations, my interest in such issues grew as well. Among other students’ association was GEOPLANETE-CI, through which we carry out city cleaning and tree planting activities. Currently I am a Peace Ambassador to the United Nations’ Department of Social and Economic Affairs.

Catherine Fidelis-  Tanzania- ENSA/’weltwärts
For me this exchange program was a way to learn about culture beyond my boarders. I was impressed by the work I was doing. 
It entailed preparing lessons for students and community on topics that create dialogues with regard to sustainable resource utilization and culture integration. 
The exchange program has enhanced my culture tolerance and appreciation of diversity. It has helped me at my current job to work harmoniously with my colleagues from different nations. I have high regard of other people’s culture. I am also proud of my heritage.

 Chaze Sibeya - Namibia -ASA
I participated in the ASA exchange, on a Municipal Climate Partnership program of 2018. Our project was on “Reducing Waste to Landfill” in the City of Windhoek, Namibia based on lessons learnt in the City of Bremen, Germany. 
Upon returning, we successfully conducted a pilot project on composting, which the city of Windhoek Municipality has adopted, so as to save on landfill space. 
I am grateful that this program enabled me to contribute to something significant. I was exposed to different environments and cultures.

Dambisa Dube-South Africa-School Exchange With School Partnership
It is difficult to put into words the impact of exchange but what I do know is that having navigated intercultural spaces, my entire life has given me an utmost second nature understanding of various challenges and situations. 
I have completely shaped my entire outlook on and, in some ways, my personality. Spending time away from home not only intensified the need to give back and contribute directly to my community but it also shaped my intercultural skills.
This is purely my own experience and story but I am certain that, one way or another, no one is left unchanged after an exchange programme.

Ceuwa Fonou Farel - Cameroon-ENSA/’weltwärts
In 2017, I participated in the South-North exchange programme conducted by Bread for the World. This is how I came to serve in Lobetal, Germany, in social work with people living with disabilities. I also worked production of organic cow milk. 
During my mission as a volunteer, through the contacts with the Sister Culture, I improved my awareness on public policies and sustainable development. Consequently, I work with the youth in my community in order to promote organic agriculture and its health benefits. Currently I am a trainer at CPF Mbouo-Bandjoun in Cameroon. 
I have authored a book on Cameroon's health policies. 

Fawaz Ayah- Benin- La Francophonie International Volunteership (VIF)
Upon completion of my mission, where I have met important institutional stakeholders and worked with members of international cooperation, I have engaged with a number of young talents looking forward to being successful and improving their living conditions. 
I understand how difficult and complex it is to make strides. This experience also encouraged me to look for new prospects and commit more to making the youth and alumni voices heard. 
I can say that once you have volunteered, you will never be the same again. This experience rebuilds you all over again.

Fiacre Akpondehou -  Benin - Konrad Adenauer 
I am a social worker and a project manager. Courtesy of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, I was selected to study a Master's degree in Prospective Studies and Development at the University Abomey-Calavi. This two-year qualification enabled me to implement prospective studies. The scholarship also allowed me to benefit from a number of leadership capacity-building opportunities. 
With the KAS partnership, I managed to demonstrate leadership skills in my professional activities. I was granted a scholarship from the Ministry of Justice in 2016 to further capacitate myself in Belgium. It focused on specialised education in order to strengthen alternative care for children in conflict with the law. 
Dossou Taofic -Benin - ASA GLEN 
One of the prospects remain the technology and knowledge transfer to West African, especially in my country, Benin. Such transfer would not be possible without the support of partners as well as our country's local partners, to help us achieve these objectives.

 Dossou Judicaël -  Benin - GLEN
I was on a three months' internship on a microfinance project, with a German national, in Cameroon. The project is still being implemented in Cameroon. It was extremely rewarding and rich in experiences. Our work is implemented in several communities who have established savings and credit groups to meet their day-to-day needs. Indeed, in such villages that are located in remote areas away from bigger cities, there is no access to traditional banking services. Savings groups are made of 20 to 25 people who know each other. The group meets every weekly for savings and/or granting loans. It is run by five members. I would like to note that this system is different from the "tontine" system.
In Cameroon, where we are interning, our task was to create an association that brings together all these savings groups in order to solve the issues they are faced with. We were working in the Central Cameroon region, where the dominant ethnic group is the Beti. Interestingly when you visit them, according to their traditions, they will never let you go if you do not eat and drink.

Grant Bellairs - South Africa -ASA
In the months before my exchange I was just another unemployed graduate looking for work. Now 5 years later, I am an entrepreneur that is developing youth. I participated in an ASA exchange, the focus was a comparative study of Youth Unemployment between Aachen and Cape Town. 
This experience has broadened my view of how to deal with unemployment. Taking what I’ve learnt from my exchange, I started my own company, combining the methods I found into the courses we offer. 
In the five years that my company has been in existence, 65 young people were empowered to be chefs, 150 youth and elderly became computer literate and 50 entrepreneurs emerged. This vision would not have been possible if it were not for my exchange experience.

Hassane Seibou - Benin- International Exchange and Reciprocity Volunteership Programme.
I was tasked with raising awareness among French youth on issues related to intercultural and global citizenship. I had to encourage them to commit to international mobility and civic engagement. 
Volunteering highlights the importance of understanding the world and accepting others despite our differences. It also highlights the importance of sharing values of peace and solidarity. 
To me, international volunteering means opening to the world and to have a bigger impact on the communities at home. I am proud to serve the world as a young person because us youth are a positive force serving humanity.

Gerold Dreyer- Namibia - ASA
The ASA program, based on Global Learning, benefitted me as I gained plethora of knowledge on topics like power structures, intersectionalities and white privilege etc.
Professionally, I uncovered my passion for youth development and education, specifically in the African context. The opportunities that I was granted in Germany made it possible for me to continue working on the above-mentioned topics to this day.  
The challenges I faced helped me grow as a person. Subsequently, I empowered myself and others too. Today, I work with various stakeholders in the volunteer or exchange landscape to address the challenges and improve programs for future generations.  

Hodonou V. E. Fleuriell - Benin - GLEN
I was selected as part of GLEN's 2018 Educational Programme on Global citizenship. Hence, following educational and preparation lectures, I have been interning at the Legal Expertise Clinic in Lomé, Togo. It was an enriching experience to the extent that the internship was an opportunity to put into practice the concepts learnt, such as working in a team and in a multicultural environment. 
I was impressed with the direct contact with the women beneficiaries of the project. The project named "I Am A Woman, I Have Rights" was aimed at women's legal empowerment. Together with my internship partners and locals, we discovered what the actual needs are, such as sharing knowledge in order to ensure equality in applying human rights. Therefore we have done so, through awareness-raising and educational classes on women's rights. I believe that these activities have produced actual results when I see the sense of accomplishment expressed by the programme's beneficiaries.

Ingrid Hakalume - Namibia-ASA
The exchange programme was an eye-opening experience as I saw how things are on the other side of the world. Interestingly it’s not always what’s portrayed in the media. It was a great opportunity to travel out of the African continent and visit different cities and countries in Europe. 
I met people from different continents and learnt about their cultures. I also got exposure and gained knowledge from the projects and seminars I was part of. 
The experience also shaped me as a person as I faced challenges which I learnt to overcome during my stay in Germany.

Jabulani Nzimande-South Africa -EUROPAWAERTS 
When I did my exchange in 2013 in Dresden, I was inspired to start an organization named Each One Teach One, founded 2014. The organization, founded in 2014, gave a six young people the opportunity to travel to Germany on a school exchange the following year. 
We were invited to Taiwan on another exchange program in Taipei. Through the exchange I began to forget about myself and think about others which really boosted my confidence. Currently I am taking part in different organizations in South Africa with the aim of creating more partnership on the African continent. 

Josiane Darwatoye- Chad- AUYVC
My volunteer experience was very uplifting as it pushed me one step closer to my ultimate goal - to be an agent of positive change for my continent. I was deployed in Algeria and the social experience impressed me the most. 
I realized that regardless of our socio-economic and cultural differences, youth all over the world face similar challenges. Some of the challenges are: access to quality education, unemployment, access to funding, safe spaces to come together and lack of opportunities to actively participate in the state’s affairs.

Stories AGYI Blog Stories amplifying youth voices Southern African Alumni Network (SAAN)

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