Side By Side and U-REPORT ends successful Western tour to mark start of a provincial youth exchange program

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Two youth-driven campaigns Side By Side Movement and U-REPORT successfully completed a joint weeklong learning exchange in the Western Province marking the start of a mash-up learning event for young leaders of Honiara and three provinces.

The inaugural Western Province tour was led by 27 young leaders and involved an engagement of over 60 youths from communities across Munda, Noro, Kolombangara, Gizo and surrounding areas of the Western capital.

In a statement today, Side By Side and U-REPORT says the “Provincial Youth Exchange and Learning Program (PYELP)” will roll out over Western, Malaita and Guadalcanal in the coming weeks.

The PYELP is delivered with the support of Oxfam in the Pacific to communities with keen youth and gender-based interests in the form of awareness visits, music engagement, sharing photography/theatre/filmmaking skills, storytelling initiatives and an empathy building process.

Oxfam’s Side By Side Campaign Coordinator Neil Nuia who also manages the U-REPORT program in partnership with the National Government and UNICEF, says the weeklong exchange program in the Western province was an exciting achievement that was well received by the communities they had visited.

The Side By Side Campaign is a gender-based and youth-centred movement equivalent to Oxfam’s global ENOUGH Campaign while the U-REPORT is a recently designed digital program that aims to engage youths in national dialogues using mobile-based approaches and social media platforms.

“The outcome and support we received in the Western province was beyond our expectation. We want to thank all the youths that joined us, the Western Youth Council, Western Provincial Council of Women and the communities who hosted us with great hospitality,” Neil says.

Neil added that PYELP also brings economic benefits to local women in the communities who hosted the accommodations of the 60 plus participants in the duration of the program.

The PYELP closed on Sunday with a moving public theatre performance in Gizo, a rendition of Dreamcast Theatre’s “Freedom” play.

“Everybody loved the Freedom act and seeing it coming from youths of Western Province was a great feeling. They too must be applauded for taking leading roles in all these activities,” Neil says.

“Our U-REPORT youth ambassadors promoted the free mobile-based text-messaging tool in Munda and surrounding areas of Gizo, including Titiana community,” Neil explains for the U-REPORT component.

“Six registration drives have been conducted in these areas. The team was received with much excitement and curiosity following the service and it’s potential to collectively amplify nationwide youth issues.”

Documented activities including the Freedom play from the PYELP tour in Western will be highlighted this week in Honiara during an arts event at the MSG Building this Sunday. The public are welcomed to attend the event. 

The PYELP will travel to Malaita later this month and wrap with a third tour in Guadalcanal.

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