Yazan’s world has gotten smaller as he has connected with people from across the globe.
YES alumni are always service-minded, but between Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), Earth Day, and the end of Ramadan, alumni really stepped up their game in April. Here nine (of many!) notable projects.
1. Vullnet Ilazi, along with local youth and American soldiers stationed in his village of Ferizaj, Kosovo, participated in a day of activities and trash cleanup to promote the importance of environmental sustainability. They gathered 25 bags of trash and made the village cleaner and safer for the inhabitants. After the cleanup, they spent time socializing and playing games, including capture the flag, egg on a spoon, three-legged race, kickball, tug of war, and arm wrestling. Vullnet also prepared American pancakes as a treat for the volunteers. Highlight photo above
Vullnet Ilazi (YES 2021-2022, Kosovo, placed by AYUSA in Duluth, MN)
2. Alumni in Bungoma, Kenya organized a visit to the Word of Life Children's Home, where they engaged 35 youth in educational activities and interactive games. The alumni shared their YES experiences and encouraged the children to pursue academic excellence and apply for the YES program when they are older. Photo left
3. Throughout West Bank, seven YES and 11 Access alumni organized a Ramadan food drive, during which they collected a total of $2,000, 21 packages of food, and 30 chickens. With the funds raised, the volunteers purchased canned food, chicken, rice, and flour and distributed the food to more than 325 people.
4. In Dakar, Senegal, ten alumni and four YES Abroad students held a GYSD activity at the SOS Children’s Village. The volunteers engaged 50 children in English activities, story time, color by numbers, U.S. state bingo, and dances, including the Cha-Cha Slide, Cuban Shuffle, and Macarena. The goal of the event was to provide the children with an opportunity to learn, socialize, and feel part of the local community. Photo right
5. The YES Alumni Association in Liberia celebrated GYSD in Robertsport by organizing a cleanup of the Tolbert's Presidential Building with 25 alumni and 15 student volunteers. The event aimed to promote environmental conservation and the maintenance of historical sites – the latter issue being a consistent challenge in Grand Cape, which has many historical sites that have been abandoned. Alumni did landscaping, painted, and planted coconut trees on the property.
6. Alumni in Suriname visited a children’s home to promote the Sustainable Development Goals of Good Health and Well-being, Climate Action, and Quality Education. They organized group activities, shared healthy snacks, and facilitated a lesson on the environment, during which they discussed global warming and how recycling can benefit the Earth. Photo above
7. Monique Jafta and six fellow volunteers held a food drive and distributed meals to unhoused people in Cape Town, South Africa. Since Covid-19, the number of homeless people living on the streets of Cape Town has significantly increased. With donated food, the volunteers made and distributed 148 packages of sandwiches, fruit, and juice boxes. Monique plans to recruit more YES alumni volunteers to expand this initiative in the months ahead.
Monique Jafta (YES 2013-2014, South Africa, placed by AFS in Kendallville, IN)
8. Seven alumni volunteered at an Eid festival called Basmat Eid (the smile of Eid) in Gaza. Alumni and 50 other volunteers organized donated items of clothing and distributed the clothing to 350 families in need. Photo right
9. Alumni in Cameroon held a GYSD cleaning event at Bertoua Regional Hospital to promote volunteerism among community members, and they recruited 22 student volunteers to join the cleaning effort. Pierre Georges Mengata kicked off the event by presenting about the YES program to the volunteers, and Pole Karen Alexandra Gouensina spoke to participants about the importance and benefits of volunteering.
Pierre Georges Mengata (YES 2021-2022, Cameroon, placed by Aspect in Birchwood, WI)
Pole Karen Alexandra Gouensina (YES 2019-2020, Cameroon, placed by AYA in Muskogee, OK)