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#ithechange  The YADEN and its Partners Change Story.

The #ithechange project from YADEN was designed as an integrated intervention meaning the project addressed various aspects and pillars comprising Empowerment and Engagement of Youth in Conflict with the Law. To sustainably support this rightsholders group, the project needs to support the facilitating entities to make the necessary positive changes that will equip and empower these entities to best serve the Youth in conflict with the Law. Thus the project monitors and evaluates positive changes beyond the primary target group, Youth in Conflict with the Law, to assuring ongoing support.

Organisational Capacity Changes:

YADEN as the lead organisation further enhanced its organisational capacity. However, these capacity changes are even more significant with the four unofficial partners the project worked with in Kampala, Arusha/Moshi, Mombasa, and Kisumu. Pearl Development Initiative (PDI) from Uganda registered most organisational capacity progress. The many Stakeholders who felt confident to work with them and the various invitations to participate in events of both state and non-state actors are evidence of this.

Another project partner, Kishoka Youth Organisation in Mombasa, grew its capacity to reach out to hard-to-reach youths and their groups. This contributed to being appointed by the Pollination project as their local funds’ disbursement agent for grassroots groups. #ithechange has significantly contributed to this confidence. KASH in Kisumu and Twaweza Boys and Girls Club in Moshi also registered progress as per the evaluation survey realised at the end of the project.

For YADEN, the #ithechange project cemented our position as a knowledge generation entity. Before the start of this project, YADEN realised that its intimate work at the grassroots helped develop new knowledge but since it was not organised as a knowledge platform most of this knowledge was never harnessed. In #ithechange YADEN was able to analyse new knowledge and package it as a learning initiative. Furthermore, YADEN has been invited to many workshops to present various lessons as evidence of this new acknowledgement. YADEN was also awarded a gold certification by VIWANGO Organisational Capacity Group, which is one of the most sought-after certifications respected by many donors. #ithechange contributed to this given that the documents surveyed and evaluated included the project documents.

Using the Continuous Inclusive Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (CIP-M&E) System, the project changes were tracked under four impact/change areas.

Identity Strengthening:

This involves changes in attitude and behaviour. The project invested heavily in attitude and behaviour changes, especially since the pre-project survey showed the change in attitude and behaviour, summarised in this project as Identity Strengthening was the most significant impact area in terms of ensuring empowerment and engagement of youth in conflict with the law. Based on the final evaluation this was one of the changes where the most significant changes were recorded among the 104 youth participants. Their confidence, self-acceptance, self-esteem, and articulation highly improved. Actually, this progress is evidenced in the making of ‘the Change my Voice has Made’ videos.

Skills and Knowledge:

the youth participating gained new knowledge and skills. This included skills in enterprise development and various vocational skills such as beauty and health. The participants also gained knowledge on how the judicial system and the penal code work, among other vital knowledge without which their own and their peers’ engagement would be difficult. Being a learning project, it also targeted other stakeholder representatives as the primary learners (police, judicial officers, etc). As shared in the evaluation profiles in the learning platform, they changed their perceptions about youth in conflict with the law based on new insights, as part of the learning as you experience approach.

Livelihood Strengthening:

The participating youth in conflict with the law reported that their incomes have improved but more importantly their livelihood has been enhanced. What was interesting is that for most youth in conflict with the law, the challenge is not earning an income but the capacity of translating that income into a livelihood. It showed that most of them were able to set up a sustainable enterprise. This change in income and livelihood has helped empower these youth to expand their livelihood options and with it minimise their vulnerability to engaging in criminal activities. It also works as inspiration for their peers.

Influence Building:

Having an independent VOICE based on issue awareness, critical thinking and an analytical mind is crucial to having a capacitated influence. #ithechange helped strengthen this in the youth group. The other impact areas such as Identity strengthening, Knowledge and skills and improved livelihood options helped anchor the influence level of the youth in conflict with the law. The activities such as community outreaches, forums, festivals and even the video profiles assisted in putting their Voices out there. Evidence has shown that though it is too early to identify policy changes clearly some practice changes within their environment occurred. For example, police officers involving them in addressing crime issues or the judiciary inviting their opinions on issues such as probation. Like most youth in the project shared: unlike before when we did not exist in the eyes and plans of the authorities, now when we talk they listen but more importantly, they do something about our concerns.

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