YouthCan! Facts and Figures 2019

 

Partnering for opportunities that work

 

About YouthCan!

YouthCan! supports young people who have lost parental care or are at risk of losing it on their journey to decent work and independent life.

 

In this global partnership between SOS Children’s Villages and the private sector, corporate volunteers share their time, skills, expertise and own career journeys.

They plan workshops, trainings, facilitate exposure to professional environments and act as mentors. Employees and young people can connect face to face or through our digital platform, enabling worldwide collaborative learning and breaking down geographical barriers. YouthCan! was first launched in seven pilot countries in 2017. It has since grown to include 31 countries, with the aim of reaching young people in 40 countries by 2020.

Our unique, multidimensional and tailor-made approach

YouthCan! combines mentoring, first work experience, and soft and technical skills trainings into one comprehensive approach. The programme is locally-owned and tailored to the local labour market and the needs of each young person. Participants are involved in the continuous review of the programme and help craft an approach that best suits their individual needs. Peer-to-peer exchange and support is facilitated on- and offline.

Our response to the global youth employment challenge

267 million young people worldwide are neither in education, employment or training. That accounts for 22% of young people aged 14-25, according to a recently published International Labour Organisation report that looks at employment and social trends for 2020. Currently, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and 145 million young workers live in poverty. Continuously fine-tuning and expanding our response to the global youth employment challenge therefore remains a top priority in YouthCan!.

The right intervention for self-reliance

In 2019, YouthCan! was active in 31 countries, reaching 5,700 young people and more than 1,700 volunteers. Diversifying the activities offered per participant and expanding upon existing programmes to best suit the needs of our participants were the biggest focus areas in 2019. Youth employability activities saw a 50% increase compared to last year, with more than 300 activities made available to young people across the globe. As a result, higher employability and an increase in digital skills are reported for young people growing up in alternative care offered by SOS Children’s Villages.

We see evidence in the programmes that where YouthCan! is implemented, the self-reliance rate of young people leaving care is developing at a 5% higher rate than on the global average across all our programmes. A deepening of our work in 2019 was in great part possible thanks to the growing network of corporate volunteers that joined YouthCan! – 90 new local partnerships were established and 400 additional volunteers donated their time and effort to young people. Interactions between young people and corporate volunteers, either as trainers or as mentors, took place an average 13 times per year and the volunteer-to-youth ratio reached a record one volunteer for every three participants.

These results stem in part from the continued commitment of our six global partners: AkzoNobel, Allianz, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Johnson & Johnson, Siegwerk and thyssenkrupp Elevator.

Together, we continue to move away from conventional public-private partnerships to a new era of collaboration, where fostering exchange and encouraging teamwork is key to impact- oriented results.

‘They consider us their parents’

Weliya Abbagelan and her husband, Teshome Mamo, heard about the high number of abandoned children in their community, and they wanted to help. “Children are not meant to be abandoned or thrown away,” says Teshome. “Someone needs to care for them.” 

The couple became one of the first foster families in the Ethiopian city of Jimma. In 2012, they opened their home to Meti* who was three years old at the time. Later they took in Hawi*, their niece, after Weliya’s sister passed away. 

“I love how we all laugh together,” says Weliya, “and I love that they consider us their parents.”

Maza sits at small table with her foster child, Marcia*, now three years old, and watches as she builds a puzzle.

“She’s so smart,” says Maza. “I want my daughter to get a good education so she can support herself and be self-reliant. I’d like her to become a doctor so she can help others, like I try to help others.”

‘They consider us their parents’

Weliya Abbagelan and her husband, Teshome Mamo, heard about the high number of abandoned children in their community, and they wanted to help. “Children are not meant to be abandoned or thrown away,” says Teshome. “Someone needs to care for them.” 

The couple became one of the first foster families in the Ethiopian city of Jimma. In 2012, they opened their home to Meti* who was three years old at the time. Later they took in Hawi*, their niece, after Weliya’s sister passed away. 

“I love how we all laugh together,” says Weliya, “and I love that they consider us their parents.”

SOS Children’s Villages Ethiopia is one of a number of organisations working with the government to set up foster care programmes in Ethiopia, a relatively new model of care for the country. Since 2015, SOS Children’s Villages Ethiopia has helped place about 150 children with foster families, a number it hopes to increase to 2,000 within five years.

 

Marcia* with her foster mother Maza.

 

The need is particularly great in Jimma where many young people come to study and find work. The cultural taboo of having a child out of wedlock leads many young mothers to abandon their newborns, says Ebisa Jaleta, programme director at SOS Children’s Village Jimma.

“Babies are abandoned at hospitals. They are left at police stations. They are put on the side of the road,” says Mr Jaleta. “They are even placed outside the fence of our SOS Children’s Village. We find them and report it to police.”

First-time parents receive a blessing

Tadele Ferede and his wife, Bogalech Bosen, always wanted to become parents. Unable to conceive, the couple decided to become foster parents. They registered with the child welfare agency, and SOS Children’s Villages Jimma screened and later prepared the family for the next big step.

“We were very happy when we got a son,” says Tadele, who works as a gardener. “We gave him his name, which means ‘blessings to the family’”.

“When I see my son, I’m so glad,” he says. “When I come home and he greets me, I feel I’m a father, I have a child, and that makes me very happy.”

 

SOS works with the child welfare office to identify and place children with foster parents. The families receives support from SOS, such as parenting classes and a nominal food and medical allowance. An SOS caregiver, usually an SOS mother or aunt, mentors the family and routinely visits.

Marcia’s foster father, Abebe, 63, who works as a guard, says with the guidance of the SOS caregiver and additional support the little girl has flourished. “I am very happy because the child has benefited from our care,” he says. “I am definitely very happy.”

*Names of children changed to protect privacy.

Photos by Jakob Fuhr. 

Our work in Ethiopia

SOS Children’s Villages Ethiopia works with local groups to support families who are at risk of breaking down. If, in spite of all assistance, children cannot live with their families, they can find a new home in an SOS family.

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