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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Redly Ramo works voluntarily to make a difference for North Malaita youths

Toktaem with Moffat Mamu

Youths are leaders of today in their own capacity given they being fully resourced with skills, knowledge and other necessary items.

Solomon Islands is richly blessed with the abundant supply of youths, they make up more than half the population. Sadly enough most of them are under-utilised because of lack of training opportunities.

Government is left with a challenge to find ways to provide them with the “Know How” training to address the ongoing unemployment rate in the country.

Solomon Islands is fortunate to have hosted the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). A CYP task is to allow youths to be empowered in their own capacity to be leaders, make wise decision or embark on a project to help themselves.

CYP intern Matthew Albert explains:
“Young people taking control of their lives and enabling themselves to earn an income is the dream of many youth developmental organisations - including CYP,” Mr Albert said. Mr Albert is from Australia and is currently worked at the CYP, Panatina.

Mr Albert added CYP is always interested to know about any project or effort by youths in the country. Therefore, he said the CYP South Pacific Centre was very interested when it learnt of a youth initiative in North Malaita. This initiative is rural-based and involved young people helping themselves through the support of a local non-government organisation.

According to Mr Albert, Malaita has a “youth bulge” just like other Solomon Islands provinces. “It is home to almost double the number of people aged 15–29 than Honiara, giving it the province with the largest number of people in this age group in the Solomon Islands.”

CYP South Pacific Centre had heard of the North Malaita youth initiative from its youth leader, Redly Ramo. After initial meetings in Honiara, a CYP delegation made up of programme manager, Paul Peteru and Mr Albert visited the project. Like many youths, Mr Ramo was enjoying life in Honiara, but things have not turned out well for his life. As a young man his future was uncertain because there was nothing he could to make life more interesting. Mr Ramo left the city lights of Honiara in 2004 for Fulifo’oe, his father’s home village in North Malaita.

“Ramo, now married with two children had plans, dreams and enthusiasm targeted at involving young men and women in his community to engage in development activities,” Mr Albert said.

Since his return to the village, Mr Ramo has been working hard to fulfil his plans making a U turn to his life. Today, this sees the existence of the Uttermost Rural Development Foundation (URDF), the rural-based youth organisation established by him at Fulifo’oe.

URDF offers various activities, opportunities and assistance for the young people in his area. The URDF currently involves two major projects. The first is the Gwaunakwaru Cocoa Nursery, one of only two established nurseries in Solomon Islands. It provides free cocoa seedlings to young farmers across North Malaita. It aims to support young rural farmers to produce and plant 100,000 cocoa seedlings each year.

North Malaita has recently contributed about 10 per cent of the country’s national cocoa production.

The other major URDF project is its Savings Club, which is a micro-finance scheme that now has a membership of 20. Like the cocoa nursery, this club also aims to support young people who want to help themselves. The Savings Club provides an opportunity for members to pay their savings from income-generating projects into a central fund with a view to securing and increasing their savings, and obtaining loans. A similar initiative is also operating for 62 members of nearby Fanumusi Youth Association.

The proposed ANZ mobile bank service, Bank Blo Evriwan in the North Malaita area, will not only enhance the efforts of the URDF members to save their hard earned money, but will also enable young people of North Malaita to get into the positive culture of saving.

Mr Ramo’s work, like the work of social entrepreneurs the world over is focused upon building financial, social and communal resources. But the entrepreneurial works for the young people of North Malaita are about more than that. The activities embody, what Mr Peteru noted as the primary focus of the Commonwealth Secretariat, “respect and understanding”.

“Through Ramo’s entrepreneurial enterprises, the young people of North Malaita are demonstrating that this is not only what they are working for, it is what they deserve,” Mr Albert said.

“They are the beneficiaries of one of a growing number of social entrepreneurs in the Solomon Islands.”

No youth initiative is complete without sports and recreation. The CYP delegates were special guests of the first Independence Day soccer tournament in Malu’u organised by the North Malaita Football Association. They witnessed soccer displayed by 10 ‘under sixteen’ teams drawn from surrounding villages with the winning team receiving the first prize from Moffat Konofilia of PNG’s Sobou Football Club.

The visit was conducted in July 10-11 for two days and it was a success, Mr Albert told Toktaem yesterday.

“We are pleased with the work being made by Mr Ramo in his own area to help the youths,” the Australian said. He said there are many youths like Mr Ramo who are embarking on similar initiatives around the country. “Mr Ramo is only one of these many youths who have worked hard to make their own success story,” he said.

Source: Solomon Star

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