Our organization, the Youth and Child Advocacy Network has different pillars under its Program Department. These pillars constitute the core aspects of our organizational Values. To achieve the objectives of our program pillars, we link our Mission and Vision to the following components subsumed in our Programs:
Advocacy is the foundation and main drive of YACAN. We have firm belief in our creative and inspirational initiatives to address challenges and problems. YACAN is one of Sierra Leone’s most reliable and inclusive organizations that children, youth, women, communities and stakeholders hold in high esteem to advocate for their rights and other socio-economic concerns nationwide.
Because of the relatively fragile socio-economic, political and cultural climate in the country, we are urged to do more for children and youth in Sierra Leone, as a result of the existing challenges attempt to derail their development. They are usually under the constant assault of Poverty, Unemployment, Human Rights abuse; while our girls continue to face Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Violence and Crime, measured Good Governance, questionable Rule of Law, pitiable Hygiene, environmental Hazards and different forms of Child Abuses, including trafficking.
As an organization, we utilize different advocacy strategies to achieve our objectives. We Mobilize communities to own the participatory development process we introduce using extensive traditional media approach, such as Radio campaigns, Television Documentaries, Face-to-Face Communication and Social Media. We take our beneficiaries along with their feedbacks in writings and blogs, and we also encourage dialogue on policy issues with our focus to make the change for positive impact on youth and children. Our records of successful and result proven advocacy over the years are incomparable and unmatched in the whole of Sierra Leone.
Protecting children and creating access for children to actively and robustly contribute to advocacy is what YACAN has been doing for the last ten years. Children in Sierra Leone are being faced with diverse forms of abuse, perpetuated by people who should protect them.
As a post-conflict country, Sierra Leonean children, are still encountering abuses that need urgent interventions that could change policy, behaviors and cultural perception as to how to deal with them. Our girls are being forced into early marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, other forms of violence and torture, poor hygiene and adverse environmental challenges and limited access to education and poor health care facility, according to various studies done in the last five years.
YACAN, as a non-profit organization, continues to aggressively call on national and international stakeholders and supporters to support us in our strive to make the change for children and create a protected environment for them, where they will grow with equal opportunity, and develop the culture of respect for human rights and peace.
In its robust response to drive the deadly Ebola virus that has killed many Sierra Leoneans, and orphaned many children in the country, YACAN made its first break through as an emergency response organization working in Sierra Leone. When EVD struck in September 2014, YACAN donated food and cloth to affected children in Moyamba southern Sierra Leone.
YACAN as a youth volunteer organization was invited to join the food and non food emergency response team supported by DFID/UKAID with Plan International Sierra Leone, leading since 1st of December 2014 to 30th September 2015. YACAN has responded with food and non food items to over 25,000 households in the Western Area Rural and Urban in Sierra Leone and has also succeeded in establishing Community Reference Groups (CRG) and Information Focal Persons (IFPs) in fifteen communities which helped to provide feedbacks towards the Ebola response in their communities
YACAN is amongst the few local non–governmental organizations that is charged with the responsibility of distributing food and non-food items to quarantine homes in the Reduce Ebola Transmission Project (RETP) in both the Western Area Rural and Urban districts.
Sierra Leone has a population of about 5.5 million people and 60% of these are illiterate and 65% of these population are children and youth, and as an organization that was established by children and youth that were in secondary school in the country capital in 2005, YACAN believes that education is an essential tool to every country’s development, and that is primarily the reason we are putting more premium on it. As an organization we think education should be achieved without any violation of human right, abuse and that the school should be a safe zone for girls and boys. YACAN has successfully established over 30 school clubs in Freetown and Moyamba. Every year, YACAN reviews and recruit children between the ages of 10 and 18 to be Peer Educators in their various schools. These Peer Educators are charged with the responsibility to sensitize their peers on issues of violence, sexual exploitation and the need to attend school every day and also identify challenges that deter children from attending school.
YACAN has continuously engaged the government to do more for youth and children on Education and has been the first organization in 2012 to start an annual award for teachers in Sierra Leone.
Young People are important in the development of every country. Sierra Leone, a country where unemployment is high, housing accommodation in urban areas are extremely difficult, opportunity learn skills for trade are not appropriate, limited opportunity to access capital for enterpreneurship are limited and development for young people and their empowerment are considered to be a big challenge.
YACAN as an organization has taken the front row to work with young people and volunteers to support and build the capacity of young people to join in the advocacy using the down to top approach. Our community youth platform has continually engaged their local government, members of parliament to identify what are the needs for development and how they can empower them to be productive young people. In June 2013, YACAN Presented a position Paper to the Parliamentary committee for youth on the issue of unemployment in Sierra Leone, and we are working collectively with youth groups and its platform to make an inclusive advocacy for young people in Sierra Leone.
YACAN is seriously concerned about the challenges facing Sierra Leone in the area of Health. As a reason of knowledge, over the years, YACAN has engaged in life skill capacity development of children in schools and communities, with our volunteers and community trainers. YACAN is training children and youth on how to have a safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent sickness, and we have also engaged communities on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive health (ASRH) as a means to prevent and reduce teenage pregnancy in over 50 communities in Sierra Leone. Also, our peer educators in communities and schools have been very supportive with trainings in HIV/AIDS and Malaria prevention.
WOMEN AND GIRLS EMPOWERMENT
YACAN as an organization hold to a strong belief that women and men are equal in the development of any community and the nation, and for a country like sierra Leone, with half of its population are women and Girls and they continue to be under represented in every sector of its development, and our Girls are faced with challenges such as drop out in primary school, child Marriage, teenage pregnancy, low self esteem and Sexual and Gender Base Violence (SGBV)
YACAN is campaigning with girls and women in communities and other institutions to change all of the above, and we are also working with girls to build their skill when it comes to peer involvement. With over 60% of our work in community since 2010, has been supported by donor. Working with area Girls and young women has put us in the lead to understand what girls are going through in communities and schools and these form part or our strengths, as 70% of our community volunteers are girls and young women. So, join YACAN and support the change for our girls and young women in Sierra Leone by contacting us today.
To show case all of what we do for women and Girls, YACAN from time to time publish its magazine title Pikin Varanda ”the voice for the voiceless girls”
YACAN since 2006 has been one of the few CSO led by young people to contribute to national advocacy in the area of Governance. Our approach to governance has been a collaborative one with related organizations on specific issue.
Over the years, YACAN has supported the process of peaceful and non- violence elections in Sierra Leone. YACAN had been part of the leading coalition in Sierra Leone National election watch (NEW) given over 50 volunteers the opportunity to monitor national election for the past 8yrs at both national and community level.
YACAN has also been part of other important advocacy campaigns that contribute to governance issue in the country led by several CSO in Sierra Leone as long as its impacts continue to affect children and youth.