CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCING:
Welcome to the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) network, also found at www.yaldafrica.org. By picking up this document you and your university are joining a network of youth in Africa and around the world who believe in taking initiative and making a visible positive impact on the African continent. These young people not only view action as vocabulary, but action defines who they are. YALDA is primarily about people; this unique network provides you with opportunities to collaborate with yor peers across both cultural and national boundaries, as well as provide you with access to the world’s leading professionals from an array of fields. These professionals have an interest in helping cultivate and inspire Africa’s youth leaders like you.
Although the role of youth in African leadership and development is often underrepresented and/or ignored, we believe that it is the youth who have an interest in finding innovative solutions to the problems that continue to afflict Africa and its people. Our hope is that you and fellow colleagues will take advantage of the resources and networking opportunities YALDA offers in order to increase the capacity of youth to effect change in their lives and societies.
We are delighted that you and your university want to become a part of this ever-growing network. We are providing you with this document—the YALDA Branch Action Plan, commonly called “the BAP”—in order to aid you and your fellow students in forming and running a YALDA branch at your local university. By taking the time to read and get acquainted with this document you are taking the first step towards forging the role of youth leaders in Africa’s development. Hopefully, this is only the start and once you and your colleagues have joined the network, you will have access to resources that will not only stir you into action but also produce tangible results.
The BAP was produced by the Harvard Branch Expansion Committee in consultation with our other branches in Africa and abroad. Although some parts may seem repetitive, we believe that each part is as equally important as any other. As no society or community is the same, we have tried our best to include as many suggestions as possible, hoping that some of them will be applicable to your situation. However, YALDA does have the same expectations for each branch, and these are described in detail later. In any event, we know that a document like this cannot possibly cover all areas of setting up and running a new organization.
We encourage you to email us questions, comments and concerns as we hope to integrate them into future updated versions of the BAP. Once again we would like to extend our warm welcome to you and your university. We really look forward to working with you and together helping others less fortunate than ourselves.
“100% YALDA pride, devotion and commitment to a better Africa.”
MEANING OF THE WORD ‘YALDA’
Did you know that our acronym YALDA actually means something other than Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa? Or, that there are people in this world called ‘Yalda’? And that you can send ‘Happy Yalda’ greeting cards and celebrate the ‘Yalda’ festival in December?
This is because ‘Yalda’ is also the name of an Iranian or Persian festival celebrating the end of the winter solstice, in the northern hemisphere: December 21st or 22nd every year. The festival has been celebrated for over 6000 years and continues to be celebrated today. Yalda is a Syriac word meaning the birth of Mithra, the Ancient Sun God, who symbolised light, goodness and strength. The longest night of the year or the winter solstice is the Eve of Yalda, also the turning point, after which the days grow longer. In ancient times it symbolised the triumph of the Sun God over the powers of darkness.
The YALDA acronym was adopted without any prior knowledge of the Syriac meaning of the word. It was only after a search was done online, to ensure that it did not mean anything offensive in any African language, that this truly captivating coincidence was discovered. Therefore, at YALDA the Syriac meaning of the word ‘Yalda’ is of extreme and great significance for it truly symbolizes our vision for the continent of Africa. We believe that Africa—through the youth’s hope, inspiration, commitment, and actions—will triumph, and she will no longer be looked at as the ‘dark continent’, but as the continent of light, strength, success and great developments!
PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, YALDA or YALDA Intl always refers to the YALDA International Headquarters. All other branches are referred to as YALDA branch, Harvard YALDA or YALDA Rhodes University etc.
The YALDA International Headquarters is still in its founding phase. Furthermore, until the set up of the YALDA International Headquarters is complete, YALDA has appointed 7 YALDA Regional Associates (YRA) to be the main points of contact for the branches.
The 4 main responsibilities of the YRAs are:
- To assist branches in every way they can to ensure branches are successful in realising the goals and vision of YALDA
- Communicating on a regular basis with the branches they are responsible for
- Asking for and receiving reports from the branches and collating any interesting information from the reports
- Revitalization of floundering YALDA branches in their regions
- Assisting with the establishment of new branches across the continent (please note that ALL existing branches are STILL required to ALSO establish branches and maintain contact with all their Liable Internal Network Colleagues (LINCs))
Basically, the YRAs will take on the role of the External Relations Manager while we are still trying to find funding for the YALDA Secretariat. This is to build and maintain momentum and so you know who to contact and when. You may reach the YRAs at firstname.lastname@example.org.