Finalists in the YALLAH Commit to Action programme (C2A) of Qatar Foundation International (QFI ) participated in the 10th annual EMPOWER Conference organised by Reach Out To Asia. The event was held at the Education City Student Centre recently, from 15-17 March.
The YALLAH C2A programme is designed to support youth who are carrying out work in their communities that is geared towards the achievement of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). During this 12-week programme, students from the US and Qatar participated in six service learning and leadership training webinars, and developed their own service-learning projects with support from a professional mentor via a virtual platform. The programme culminated with a virtual showcase where students presented their projects to a panel of judges, competing for the opportunity to be part of a one-week trip to Qatar to attend the 2018 EMPOWER Conference.
This year’s EMPOWER conference included panel discussions, workshops, seminars, and activities over a three-day period. Students from QFI YALLAH C2A programme presented their projects during the multiple sessions:
- The Emotional Education Project: A mental health awareness campaign organised by teens, for teens, to destigmatise talking about emotional issues and reaching out for help. Six students from three cities aim to lift the veil of silence and make resources more readily available to their peers through social media, public speaking, and community outreach.
- Food for All: Explores the issues of food inefficiency, poor nutrition, and unequal access to quality food in a world where there is enough food for all, and yet millions go hungry and malnourished. In six different cities, this group educates and organises their peers to take action against hunger by leading food drives, reducing food waste, and creating community gardens.
- Hydration Nation: Takes a two-pronged approach to the global water crisis. By raising funds for clean water stations in his school, student Sean Marcus Headley is raising awareness about the need for clean drinking water in schools all over the world. The proceeds from the sale of reusable water bottles will fund hydration stations in his school while reducing the use of single-use plastic bottles, the current approach to the problem. Additional proceeds will go to NGOs providing clean water to areas in drought.
- No E-Waste: Aims to stop the disposal of electronic waste in Qatar. Starting with his school, student Leo Angelo Cabibihan is offering a challenge to students who recycle their old cell phones or donate them to be reused by guest workers in Qatar. Through public speaking and social media, he is raising awareness of the environmental costs of disposal, as well as the production of electronics, encouraging his audiences to reduce, reuse, and recycle, more consciously.
Maggie Mitchell Salem, Executive Director of QFI said that they were proud of the C2A students.
They inspire us with their commitment to positively impact their communities and then bridge tremendous distance to find ways of working together. To us, the SDG become real for students when they can be part of practical, hands-on projects that deliver real benefit to those around them – and those thousands of miles away.’
In addition to attending and presenting at EMPOWER, the students spent a week together in Qatar learning about the Arabic language and heritage while visiting Qatar’s cultural landmarks.
To learn more about the Empower Conference and the YALLAH C2A programme, visit the QFI website at qfi.org.