YUVA: The Beginning of a National Movement

YUVA embodies the belief of having those people involved who are “young in spirit”.
YUVA embodies the belief of having those people involved who are “young in spirit”.

Having been involved in social work and volunteerism since early school days, and later advocating for the Mauritian youth by holding several key positions in governmental and non-governmental organisations, I’ve been enough lucky to meet a substantial number of leaders who are already bringing positive change both to and in their localities.

Recognising these leaders as individual and isolated operators, I came up with the idea of linking them all on a single platform to work for a common purpose, in order to make a national impact. After a couple of months’ planning, it moved from idea to action, and that’s how we see the creation of YUVA today.

On the other side, there are also people who care, but don’t have the resources they need to be able to stand up and speak out. We are a factionalised generation of young people who aren’t speaking to each other as much as we should be. For many of us, there isn’t as much acceptance of identity and diversity, or challenging power or privilege, as there should be. As we’ve discovered, there are a large number of movements happening across the world and within our own country, that most of us would like to be connected to, but aren’t.

There is a time when everyone realises that they need to stand up for what they believe in. It is about recognising what ignites the passion within you, in a way that nothing else does or can even come close to, and for me that is why everything continues.

For young people across the world today, global and local approaches to addressing issues increasingly need to be synchronised; there is a need for stronger understanding and ability to negotiate the complexities of differences, which requires us to work together.

This begins by creating platforms and accessing shared knowledge where people can learn more about each other and build a common language, where we can agree to disagree and still provide equity, respect and equality. I refuse to believe that in my lifetime, this is a utopian concept. And YUVA answers to the quest of the day.

The ideology of “youth in spirit”

The birth of YUVA (Youth United in Voluntary Action), a non-profit making NGO, in the year 2015 marks the beginning of a journey of empowering the youth of Mauritius for them to participate in a process of meaningful change. At the heart of YUVA’s duty lies the conviction that the collective destinies of the human race are bound together.

We are here to support and enable young people to create programmes and influence related policies. Our values are based on the assumption that leadership for our generation, is not a singular concept, but embodies the challenge of bringing together people from diverse fields and schools of thought. We have the collective challenge of building leadership that can be reflected within our communities as much as in our policies.

Though YUVA has a Hindi significance meaning “youth”, affiliation to the organisation is not limited to members of a certain age group or communal orientation. YUVA embodies the belief of having those people involved who are “young in spirit”. Even a 70-year old person can be young. Being “young in spirit” means being dynamic, lively and adaptive to change.

YUVA’s exclusive focus is public mobilisation and we aim to complement current initiatives that focus on policy and advocacy through a number of mobilisation efforts. Just as we saw this past year ahead of the general elections, public mobilisation can strengthen the voice of civil society and help bring about absolute change in the country. A natural momentum is formed when people share a common belief. And that’s what leaders need to do: create strong and sustainable mechanisms capable of making people believe in them. YUVA’s structure differs from most NGOs. It is a decentralised approach to social development and implementation. Be it at local, regional or national level, groups are able to define how they want to work together and which project they want to accomplish.

We believe that achieving a new social contract that reflects a strong narrative of hope and transformation requires a concerted and systematic effort to harness strategies, expertise and resources across a diverse national base and effective cooperation with existing movements, citizens and communities mobilisation around Mauritius. Such a movement will help ensure that the next phase of the development effort leaves no one behind.

Good governance on the frontier

Good governance and transformative leadership are the two frontiers of YUVA to push the organisation to exemplary heights. We operate on the principle that our most essential responsibility at YUVA is to foster systematic growth among the people of Mauritius – treat leaders and followers alike.  Also, achieving excellence, measurable excellence, at all levels in the organisation is also paramount.

Transformative leadership is perhaps the most challenging approach to leading practiced today. It requires character and commitment, courage, imagination, and unrivalled staying power. It’s tough, and if you haven’t got the mettle, it’ll kick you in the knees. But for leaders who do have the mettle, for those who are willing to pay the price, it can yield results that are nothing short of remarkable. Leaders who are smart enough, honest enough, and tough enough realise that what worked in the 20th century won’t work in the twenty-first, and that transformative leadership may represent a way of tapping into the possibility that awaits in an age of uncertainty.

Invitation to join the movement

YUVA’s members and supporters are its greatest volunteer resource – allowing YUVA to do so much with so little overhead. Our people are also an invaluable resource to our communities. That’s a huge jump in young people realising they have the responsibility and the leadership ability to make a difference for others. These selfless individuals are role models of service.

As National President of YUVA, I invite all of you to join us to work towards a common purpose; that of bringing positive change in Mauritius. Visit www.yuvamauritius.com.


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