Critical achievements of #BeFree Movement
#BeFree envisions a world where youth are provided a nurturing environment for the full realisation of their capabilities; or in other words, where they will #BeFree of all the things holding them back from reaching their full potential. The One Economy Foundation launched #BeFree Movement in November 2016 at a Windhoek nightclub. #BeFree was inspired by the UNAIDS drive to ensure an AIDS-free generation by 2020 through the START FREE, STAY FREE, AIDS FREE initiative.
While HIV remains a focal point, the broad challenges that youths face are equally explored.
In the last four years, #BeFree Movement has facilitated 35 dialogues and reached over 100,000 youth and stakeholders from different professional backgrounds from all sectors of society. The reach of #BeFree has seen us go to all fourteen regions in Namibia, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the United States of America, Switzerland and the Netherlands, with frank, non-judgmental dialogues and thematic conversations on youth experiences.
The youth have taken ownership of the #BeFree brand and are driving the values, programming, services and modalities thereof.
The youth articulate and demonstrate their experiences through drama, debate, music and targeted conversations. As youth take centre stage at #BeFree events and youth representatives are actively involved in the conceptualisation and delivery of the #BeFree dialogues, every #BeFree event has its own unique appeal. Having youth in the lead also helps to bring out some of the underlying and often structural and systemic issues that may prevent youth from seeking available services and life-saving information.
The active participation and collaboration of multisectoral stakeholders including community, traditional and religious leaders, social workers, police, correctional officers and inmates, health professionals, parents and teachers immensely assisted #BeFree in providing youth with important information and access to services, while at the same time providing the youth a high-level platform to articulate their messages in an effective manner.
Another major finding during the #BeFree events, was the need for youth to have adults listen to them which we facilitated through intergenerational dialogues. Adults who attended #BeFree dialogues also shared how much they appreciated the openness with which these youth spoke about the critical issues that affect them and which often have an intergenerational effect.
Key Learnings shared with stake holders and service providers
Link young people and families to services through smart partnerships including health, legal and sexual reproductive health
Life skills training for 1250 youth.
Limited scope of case management and referrals
Specialised mental health interventions
70-85% young people and about 15-30% adults.
190 volunteers assisted #BeFree in the regions
35 cases reported and engaged as a result of the talking box modality secondary school level.
280 cases reported and responded to via the chatterboxes during varies Be Free events.
Specialised training on SGBV and Child exploitation to 65 life skills teachers from five regions
12 sensitisation sessions on collateral free loans and other entrepreneurship opportunities.
180 thought leadership engagement through national media platforms
Social Media REACH
Technical support to Youth to leverage opportunities for further studies and employment.
The overall impact of these events has been rated highly, with more participants stating that it had a very high impact on their lives. The youth and adults even mentioned they noticed positive changes within themselves since they got involved in the #BeFree movement, primarily with regard to self-esteem for themselves and empathy for others and particularly understanding for youth. We intend to keep up the same momentum through issue-specific #BeFree dialogues. A key decision that was taken, based on joint reflections for the #BeFree movement to be institutionalised. In this way, it will serve as a sustainable vehicle for implementing the learnings gained during the last four years. We are particularly, excited to continue maximising the engagement of youth, cultivating a safe spaces, facilitate access to holistic services and building an enabling environment for youth to reach their full potential.