YPARD means a lot to me! It is one of the platforms through which I get opportunities to improve our farming systems with fellow youth. In 2014, I decided to join the YPARD family and In mid-2017, I was entrusted to be a country representative after a national election process. After every four years, YPARD develops a new strategy. And what a surprise: This year from March 5th -9th 2018 at the Czech University of Life Sciences, I was happy to be part of the team at the forefront of developing this strategy the 2018 – 2022 strategy.
The strategy development
We spent the very first two days developing the YPARD strategy at the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague and it was absolutely amazing! A major strength of this strategy development meeting was the supportive environment that I felt earlier through the logistical support from Libuška and the moment I was picked from Prague-Ruzyně airport by Stacy. Another strength was the unique engaging and facilitating model that allowed us to constructively go through the process of strategy development. Our engaging and guiding facilitator, Henry, took us through a process where united, we were able to develop a draft strategy in two days, and it was so much fun to see our unique contributions fulfill its purpose of drafting a strategy!!
From the beginning, one of the notable features of the group was the, openness and the welcoming new ideas while as well also considering the feasibilities of making the ideas a reality. I loved the inclusivity and diversity including people at the YPARD grassroots like Nikita from Nepal, the YPARD advisor, the funding partner and the other YPARD team representation from all levels. Staying at Prague and contributing to the YPARD strategy is one of the best youth work experiences I will cherish forever.
The fundraising training
For the next two days after the strategy development meeting, we had a fundraising training. It brings a special feeling and joy to be active in a youth organization. However, sometimes, there is discouragement when one cannot turn the ideas into action because of lack of resources. So this fundraising training was key and timely when we are developing a new strategy. With knowledge got from our facilitator Jolan and experiences from fellow participants, I believe we will be able to mobilize resources with other partners to implement the new strategy. Amazing we have many lessons we learnt from each other for example those fundraising tactics Bi has used in China, which I hope to apply in Uganda.
The fundraising training changed the way I think about fundraising and how I put myself out there to mobilize for resources. It’s really made me question assumptions that I had about fundraising and how I interact with the world while fundraising. I remember the special pitch dating session which featured a practical training in pitching to an investor. Jim was able to record these sessions via Facebook Live and the recordings are available for anyone who would like to see them.
The behind the scenes
The excellent organizers wanted our meeting to make all of us feel at home and so they made sure that we have a full package of experience. We shared home-cooked meals and snacks from our home countries! I remember Cristina Conea saying she will be ordering dried fruits from my company which is based in my village.
It was also a meeting point for a lot of same minded people, many who had never experienced snow before, people who love having a lot of fun, creating friendships and an environment of creativity and innovation. I got to know more people from our YPARD family, many of whom, in some cases, I had not interacted with before like for example Daniela. For others, I had interacted with via them online like Michelle but had not yet met them physically. I know Sunil, will agree that the tour at the CULS brewery taught us the power of telling a story as the CULS brewery story was narrated by the Faculty custodian. The guided night walk in the snow to visit the castle, the beautiful Charles Bridge and many other Prague city features taught me the special history of the beautiful Czech Republic. I really appreciate the conversations I had with this team, and at many moments like for Pius’ case, I got key lessons on mass email communication which I will apply in Uganda.
One evening, Kofi, Astighik and I left our comfort zone, walked, ‘trained’ and ‘bused’ to everywhere we could and we were not afraid to get lost in order to know more about this Prague city. As they say, you can't get to know a city until you are lost in it, and Prague is a wonderful city to get to know. The dinner at a sailing boat taught me how each one of us loved being around one another, and we loved the time with each other so much that no one wanted to leave!! Oooh yes, it is at that moment I went at the top of the boat, looked at the beautiful shining city and teared-up- because our Director Courtney Paisley is leaving. However, at the same time, I smiled because we are getting another new Director (Oooh yes, her name is not yet made public).
We had so much fun together that on the last day, I felt very sad because the meet-up was ending! Then I felt happy when I remembered the noble outputs from the meet-up including the draft new strategy, the new fundraising skills and for the new connections.
Here is an amazing recap of photos, Emmie compiled just to give you all a taste of what our time together as a team looked like!! Enjoy!!!