Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Move to Stop AIDS Dance-a-Thon a Success!

Youth from around the state danced the night away at Plan USA's 5th annual Move to Stop AIDS Dance-a-Thon!

We were thrilled to raise $5,500 for Plan's HIV/AIDS programs in Zimbabwe, thanks to the hard work of YUGA youth, raffle prize money, and a generous donor who agreed to match everything raised at the Dance-a-Thon!

Check out pictures pictures from the Dance-a-Thon taken by YUGA member Rachel from Cranston East High School. Thanks to everyone who came out to a great night!

Two bands from Cranston East High School performed a song for the Dance-a-Thon.

Everyone at the Dance-a-Thon enjoyed music from DJ Tatu!
The finished pieces! Dance-a-Thon attendees helped paint four canvases to
reflect their feelings about AIDS in different communities of the world.
Mayor Cicilline came to our Dance-a-Thon! He had great things to say about YUGA, and was excited to receive a plaque of thanks from YUGA members.

Pictured above: Clare, Arisa, Livia, Angie, and Carissa.

Representatives from Edesia hosted a table at the Dance-a-Thon. Edesia is a global nonprofit that treats malnutrition and extreme hunger, located right here in Providence! To learn more, visit http://www.edesiaglobal.com/.

Dancers from PAIS performed a traditional bellydance!

PAIS dancers perform a dance they choreographed themselves!

Above, Linda and Daniel- mother and son- do a capoeira demonstration.

Emily and AliceMae had a great time at the Dance-a-Thon!

To host a Dance-a-Thon at your school or community center, contact yuga@planusa.org!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Landmark Legislation to Prevent Child Marriage is On the Move!

On December 1st, the US Senate unanimously passed the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act- a bill to protect girls in developing countries from early marriages. Girls as young as twelve can be married in many countries, which puts them at a great disadvantage for their health, education, and well-being.
“Tens of millions of women and girls around the world have lost their dignity, independence and lives due to child marriage,” said Senator Durbin, who first introduced the bill. “Child marriage denies these women and girls of an education, economic independence and is the root cause of many of the world’s most pressing development issues – HIV/AIDS, child mortality, and abject poverty. This bill is a powerful statement of our priorities as a nation and something that will change the lives of millions in some of the world’s forgotten places.”
The legislation will require the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent child marriage, with the goal of eliminating the practice worldwide. The bill also seeks to promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of women and girls, and ensure that child marriage is globally recognized as a human rights violation.
UNICEF estimates that 60 million girls in developing countries now aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. If current trends continue, this number will increase by 100 million over the next decade. This past summer, YUGA members learned about child marriage at YUGA Leadership Camp and several YUGA youth delivered 11,500 letters signed by our supporters to Congress. Now that the bill is on the brink of becoming law, we need even more support to ensure that it gets passed!

Urge your Representatives to approve the legislation. Send pictures, make a phone call, or find other creative ways to let your Representatives know that the bill should be passed. Make sure that everyone you know understands the importance of this bill, and that they should urge their Representatives to pass the bill, too! To find out who your state’s representative is, visit https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml.

Click here for more information about Plan’s work and the Preventing Child Marriage Act.

You may also want to read an Op-Ed in the Washington Post from Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, about child marriage.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What in the World are YOU doing on World AIDS Day?

written by Katie Appel, DC Intern

On this December 1st, youth all over the world will unite to show support for the global battle against HIV/AIDS. The World AIDS Campaign’s website hosts an international calendar of World AIDS Day (WAD) events, and here is a sampling of ways young people across the globe will be acting out against AIDS:

  • Members of the South Asia Regional Youth Network will change 10,000 Facebook profiles to support WAD 2010 in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran.
  • In Nairobi, Kenya, youth volunteers who teach HIV/AIDS prevention through the performing arts will host a Youth Seminar for other teens.
  • Students in Bangkok will sell baked goods and merchandise and the profits will benefit a local home for disabled HIV positive children.
  • In Mexico City, university students will gather to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS transmission and testing.
  • Students in Canada will present the “Viral Monologues,” stories performed by youth and written by those infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • Lastly, students in Providence, RI will host the YUGA Move to Stop AIDS Dance-a-thon!

So now that you know a little about what youth all over the world are doing on World AIDS Day, what will you do? Hang a poster in your school or community to spread awareness. Announce World AIDS Day through your personal social networking sites. Research how the spread of HIV/AIDS has impacted the population of one specific country. Sign up to volunteer at a local HIV/AIDS clinic or resource center. Make and pass out red ribbons to family and friends. Attend a local World AIDS Day event. Check out a documentary on HIV/AIDS from your local video store. Wear red! And don’t forget to get your friends involved because the more people that speak out against HIV/AIDS, the louder the voice will be!

Hopefully with worldwide participation and cooperation, we will one day see the end of this terrible epidemic. Until then, thank you for participating in World AIDS Day 2010, and for everything else you do to raise awareness for global issues the other 364 days of the year!

To check out the World AIDS Campaign’s international calendar visit: http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/World-AIDS-Day/WAD-2010-Events-Calendar
To find an HIV/AIDS documentary title, visit http://www.planusa.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/86637#AIDS
To learn more about the YUGA Move to Stop AIDS Dance-a-thon visit: http://www.planusa.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/255078

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome Katie, Our New DC Intern!


My name is Katie and I am the new Youth Engagement and Action intern in Plan USA’s Washington, DC office. I am so excited to be part of the YEA team and to learn more about all the great work your YUGA chapters are doing across the country! Now to tell you a bit about myself: I love learning about other countries and I have been lucky enough to travel to every continent except for Australia (though it’s high on my list!). I even lived in Ecuador for a year and I really enjoyed immersing myself into a new culture practicing my Spanish, and trying lots of new foods (guinea pig included!). I spent the past two years working on global education programs in DC schools, and now I’m currently studying International Development Studies in graduate school. In my free time I love to explore the city, go to baseball games (I am one of the only true Nationals fans), and I love to dance!

Just like you, I really believe that we are all global citizens and that we must do our part to help one another. I am thrilled to do whatever I can to support your YUGA chapters and to help you raise awareness for global issues in your community. Best of luck and we’ll be in touch!

Thanks so much,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Poverty Week at Cranston East

Written by Luis, Cranston East YUGA Chapter

Poverty week for us really began two weeks before the actual designated week. Two weeks ahead, we had a planning meeting where we set out our goals for CHSE Poverty Awareness Week. We all agreed that we wanted to both raise awareness and money for poverty. So we decided our game plan for the week in a way that could reach both goals. First, we decided upon making a banner to hang up in our school telling everyone about our Poverty Week. In addition, we also came up with daily meseges we would have announced on the BBC (Bolt Broadcasting Corps, East's daily announcement service).
We managed to make the 50 lunches for Crossroads, albeit we were almost stopped by some mishaps (many people forgot to bring the items they agreed to bring, or they, along with their items, just didn't show up). But, one of us ran to CVS and got the items we needed. But overall, the lunch making was extremely successful. We had over 20 people come to the meeting, which is triple the normal meeting attendees. Everyone was in high spirits and we made the 50 lunches in an organized fashion.

We also wrote some inspirational messages on notecards and put them inside the lunch bags to try and brighten the day for whoever recieved the lunch. And to top it all off, we posed in front of our Yuga Poverty Awareness Banner with the lunches like the coolcats we are B].

Oh, I can't forget our bake sale! The friday morning of that week, some of us brought in some cookies and cupcakes to give away free (in exchange for a small donation), since we're not allowed to "sell" cupcakes, since it goes against our school wellness policy. So we had to play with the terminology a bit. We set up a table in the cafeteria before homeroom to "give away the cupcakes". From there, most of us took the cupcakes on platter around the school, heckling people to donate and get a free cupcake in exchange. We raised I think about $60!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Giving Thanks

by Kerry, YEA Fall Intern

Everyone at some point in their lives has probably heard the expression “Come to the dinner table/eat your peas/finish your brussel sprouts! Don’t you know there are starving kids in the world?”

A few months ago, my six-year-old cousin Ann was dawdling to the dinner table when my uncle first said those well-known words to her. Her response was less well-known and not exactly the response her parents expected. Ann asked if they could tell her the addresses of the hungry kids so she could bring them her food because it made her sad that she had food and they didn’t. The expression aimed towards encouraging children to give thanks for what they have encouraged my cousin to give up her food to give to kids she didn’t even know so that they wouldn’t be hungry.

Who knew people in the United States, let alone youths in the United States, cared about helping people or appreciating what they have? After all, we’ve only recently been surpassed by China as the world’s largest consuming nation. We have less than 5 percent of the world population and use 21 percent of the world’s energy. We spend more money per day on blue jeans than some countries spend a year on food.

The United States actually gives the most money in aid to other countries; however, in terms of percent of all the money in the US, we’re very far from first place. Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands far outrank the United States in terms of aid as a percent of all funds within the country. The United States and Japan are tied at .19% of national income going towards foreign aid.

Private philanthropy accounts for about 23% of all US funds towards other countries. Private philanthropy includes foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, and universities and colleges. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spearheaded by billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, is the most well known of these types of organizations.

The statistics and data sets and pie charts don’t mention the young philanthropists or the children like my cousin who, given the opportunity, would help out people they’d never met in a heartbeat. They appreciate everything they’ve been lucky enough to have in life and would go even further and give up what they have to help others. In the upcoming holiday season, keep children like Ann in mind, but also the children she wanted to help and who desperately need help.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

YUGA Takes Shape in Maryland

Some YUGA Chapters have been able to get started quickly and easily. With the strong support of teachers and the principal, YUGA chapters can quickly come together and have a strong presence in schools. Our online issue toolkits, including the How to Start a YUGA Chapter toolkit, can help students become positive activists in their community.
Sometimes, however, students can run into obstacles to getting their group started. For sisters Nadyah and Jana, getting approval for a YUGA Chapter was a longer process than they had anticipated. "Things don't always turn out the way you want them to" says Nadyah. "I had many obstacles to face...But with the help of all the YUGA resources it was MUCH easier to get started."
She first met with her school's principal, but was asked to wait nearly two months for a response. After going through a lengthy approval process, she wasn't able to campaign for many of YUGA's issues. However, Nadyah was persistent with her school administrators and they were able to make a compromise. Nadyah's principal agreed to use some of the YUGA toolkits to help make her school a 'Green School,' an accreditation from the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE). She's also scheduling a school assembly with ACE, the Alliance for Climate Education, who we heard this summer at YUGA Leadership Camp. By focusing on YUGA's campaign for climate change, Nadyah is able to get her peers involved with environmental sustainability and make a difference in her community.
"This wasn't what I had fully hoped for it to be," says Nadyah, "but by starting a small chapter, hopefully I will be able to advocate even more."
Kudos to Nadyah and Jana, who continue to fight for their voices to be heard!
If you'd like help with getting your YUGA chapter started, visit the Plan website at www.planusa.org/youth, or contact Corrie at corrie.bonham@planusa.org.

Monday, November 1, 2010

YUGA's Themes of the Month 2010-2011

Need some ideas to keep your YUGA Chapter moving? Wondering what issues your YUGA chapter should be focusing on throughout the year? Below is a list of themes that we'll be writing about each month, centered around a national or international day of action. These themes address all five of YUGA's current campaigns: HIV/AIDS, Child Exploitation, Climate Change, Global Poverty, and Because I am a Girl. The monthly newsletter will discuss each issue in detail and is packed with information, resources, and ideas to help your YUGA chapter take action!

December 2010- HIV/ AIDS
December 1: World AIDS Day
January 2011- Children in Conflict Zones
January 1: World Day of Peace
February 2011- The President’s Take on YUGA Issues
February 18: President’s Day
March 2011- Walk for Wells/ Access to Clean Water and Sanitation/ Because I Am a Girl
March 8: International Women’s Day
March 22: World Day for Water
April 2011- Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability
April 22: Earth Day
May 2011- Global Poverty and Fair Trade
2nd Saturday of May - World Fair Trade Day
June 2011- Child Labor and Exploitation
June 12 - World Day Against Child Labor

Make sure that you're receiving the E-newsletter by signing up on Plan USA's homepage, or send Corrie an email to be added to the list.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Plumpynut: Funny Name, Serious Results

Last week, Kate and I visited the Edesia factory in Providence, RI- home of Plumpynut, a line of products that treat and prevent malnutrition for over 100,000 children. We met with Marie Wisecup, Communications Manager, and got a chance to tour the Edesia building to see how Plumpynut products are made. YUGA knows that access to food and adequate nutrition is a basic right according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and organizations in RI are helping to ensure that right!

While there, Kate and I learned that there are 195 million undernourished children in our world. Every day, 16,000 children die because of a lack of food and adequate nutrition. Edesia works to treat malnutrition, as well as prevent malnutrition among vulnerable children ages 6-24 months. The main ingredients are simple: peanuts, sugar, vegetable oil, and milk; but the products have a huge impact. They require no preparation or refrigeration, have a two-year shelf life, and are easy to eat. Main purchasers of Edesia’s products include UNICEF, World Food Program, Doctors Without Borders, and the Clinton Foundation.

Edesia also actively hires immigrants and refugees through the International Institute of Rhode Island. This not only provides work for newly arrived refugees, but often connects them to their homes and past. Nine years ago, Andrew Kamara, Edesia’s Supply Chain Supervisor, arrived in the United States. Having lived several years in a refugee camp in Western Africa, he now produces the types of food that he and his family once relied on.

The Edesia factory is open for tours, and is a great way to learn about nutritional assistance. If you’d like to schedule a tour of the Edesia factory for your class or YUGA Chapter, click here or visit http://www.edesiallc.org/.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Walk for Wells

Water Security in Niger
How you can help bring clean water to schools in Niger

Children everywhere should have access to an education—particularly in Niger, where only half of boys and a third of girls attend primary school. Access to water and sanitation plays a major role in their ability to get an education, especially for young girls with big responsibilities. In most families, it is a girl’s responsibility to fetch water for her family—which is often a long and difficult task. She may have to walk several miles to access clean water, forcing her to miss out on going to school. If the local school doesn’t have clean water, she’s even less likely to go. She isn’t able to get a drink, wash her hands, or use a clean restroom during the day. If she is able to get to school, she may have to leave early to get water for her family at home. Without access to water, life for students is far more difficult, especially if they’re a girl.

By providing access to clean water and sanitation, the number of girls who are absent from school can decrease by up to 37%.* The IMAGINE project (Improve the Education of Girls in Niger) seeks to increase the number of children, particularly girls, who complete primary school by addressing many of the reasons why they can’t. Plan’s 60 IMAGINE schools throughout Niger are equipped with wells, latrines, teachers’ lodgings, day-care centers, cafeterias, and a girls’ dormitory- all of which help support girls and their access to education.

Why Wells?
Streams are an unsafe source of water, often carrying waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. In sub-Saharan Africa, diarrheal disease due to a lack of safe water and sanitation is the leading killer of children under 5 years old. A bore hole, which is dug deep into the ground, provides a safer supply of water that hasn’t been exposed to disease and contamination. By making it safer and easier to get water, we’ll make it safer and easier for girls to go to school. She and her family will be healthier, more educated, and better prepared to lift themselves out of poverty. Walk for Wells, and you’ll help girls in Niger reach their dreams!

For More Information about the Walk for Wells, visit www.planusa.org/walkforwells

*CARE Action Network, September 24 2010 http://bit.ly/cE92LN

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back to School with YUGA!

What does "Back to School" mean to you? ... Back to homework? ... Practice for sports teams? Hopefully, back to school means back to YUGA, too!

Many of our YUGA Chapters across the country are dusting off their toolkits and getting ready for another year of projects, events, fundraisers, and workshops about global issues. As voted upon at YUGA Camp, our current campaigns are Global Poverty, Climate Change, Child Exploitation, HIV/AIDS, and Because I Am a Girl. Visit the YUGA Website to download all of our toolkits and get ideas for your next YUGA meeting here!

YUGA at Cranston East High School didn't waste a moment before getting their chapter moving. Their first meeting started with an icebreaker about AIDS, followed by a discussion about the issues they wanted to address throughout the year.

Cranston East also participated in Plan UK's A Hand in my Future campaign, collecting pictures of hands with a message about the importance of youth in decision-making. Says 16-year-old Colette from the UK, "A Hand in My Future is about reminding decision-makers that children and young people have the right and the ability to make a difference to the significant development issues that will affect the next generation’s future.” View a selection of the hands they collected, and visit their website to read more about their campaign!

Their YUGA meeting ended with a plan to collect cans at their school's football game. "Not only our we helping the environment," says Luis, "but we're also able raise money by personally bringing the cans to the recycling plant." A great way to fund raise, raise awareness of environmental sustainability, and have a great time, too!
Above, Cranston East YUGA members promoting recycling at the football game!

For ideas or help with your YUGA meetings, contact Corrie at corrie.bonham@planusa.org- and come to the next YUGA New England meeting on October 17! 11:30-1:30 at the Plan USA Office, 155 Plan Way, Warwick RI 02886. We'll be discussing plans for the year, activities for your YUGA chapter, and get updates about what's been going on at YUGA Centeral!

Friday, September 10, 2010

United Nations International Year of Youth Launch Event

Are Youth Undervalued?
Written By: Luis, Cranston RI

Youth everywhere are severely undervalued. Most people never see the value in young people. They hold certain perceptions about children and teens that are just not true. They just write us off as lazy and uninformed. However, in many cases it is quite the contrary. There are young people everywhere working hard to try to change local and global issues. In fact, I myself am of these young people. I am part of a youth group aimed at stopping many global issues, such as Gender Inequality, Global Warming, Poverty, and HIV/AIDS. The youth group I am part of is called Youth United for Global Action and Awareness, or simply Yuga.

This past August, Yuga sponsored a trip to New York City to give youth the opportunity to speak at both the United Nations and an evening reception, which I was lucky enough to be part of. Two other Yuga members, Heather and Claire, also came on the trip as well. The purpose of the trip was to speak at the launch of the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, which is the dedication of a whole year by the United Nations:

“[to] harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind, from enhancing peace to boosting economic development.”

However, Yuga was not embarking on this trip by itself. We had tremendous support from Plan, the charity organization that sponsors and directs Yuga. Plan is a multi-national charity that works in over 40 countries around the world promoting child rights and trying to eradicate poverty through many different approaches. Since Plan is an international organization, youth from the UK also joined our trip as well. The youth from the UK were Katie and Emily, and yes they did have amazing British accents.

Katie was part of Plan UK’s YAP, or Youth Advisory Panel, which is similar to Yuga in the United States, while Emily was the UK winner of Shoot Nations, a London-based international youth photography competition. Shoot Nations was also planning to give a presentation at the UN, with the 2010 winners of their photo competition being the focus of their presentation. The trip was a sort of collaboration between Yuga, YAP and Shoot Nations, with amazing support and guidance from Plan, of course.

The entire trip was scheduled during the second week of August, as this was the week of both the launch of the International Year of Youth, as well as the Plan evening reception. Heather, Claire, Emily, Katie and myself, alongside with Corrie and Jo, our lovely chaperones, all made it to New York City two days before we were to give our joint presentation at the United Nations.

For the few days that we were in New York, we had the chance to visit the Boys and Girls Club in Manhattan, which acts almost like a second home to the many kids and teens who attend;

This picture, taken at the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan, shows us giving “our hands” to the A Hand In Our Future Campaign, which is a campaign being run by Plan UK to remind world leaders that their decisions will affect the future of our generation. To learn more about it, go to http://www.plan-uk.org/newsroom/ahandinmyfuture/

The Apollo, where we took part in the famed Amateur Night, which has a format similar to American Idol;

Times Square, a must for any tourist in New York;

And of course the UN, which is such an important and influential governing body for the whole world! We really saw so much that New York had to offer.

However, the trip was not meant for just vacation. There was work to be done too. The speech that we were to present at the U.N. had to be written and completed and we only had a few days to do so! From the beginning of the trip we all began to brainstorm the general idea that we wanted to convey through our speech. We all agreed to three main talking points: diversity and how it makes us more open-minded, technology and its effect on global communication, and the initiative of our generation to try to solve global issues.

Specifically, my portion of the speech focused on the increasing diversity that we all live in. I’m proud to say that I am the son of immigrants and so are many of my friends and peers. I enjoy the fact that there are people from all over the world that go to my school. I’ve learned so much about so many different cultures just through the people that live in my town. Things that previous generations would have scoffed at our now considered cultural norms. Our generation is just so much more open-minded. This new found tolerance is not just because of the wide range of people that we all live amongst, but also because of another huge factor in all of our lives: the internet, which was the focus of another part of our speech.

The day after we wrote our speeches, was the day we were presenting it at the United Nations! Our speech was to be part of a larger event, the launching of the International Year of Youth, which is a whole year being dedicated by the United Nations General Assembly to youth everywhere. Before we gave our own speech there were appearances various prime ministers and Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon. Obviously, I was nervous. I was going to share the spotlight with actual world leaders!

When the presenter called our group’s name, I was momentarily stunned. It was at that moment that I came to fully realize what I was about to do. I was going to give a speech at the United Nations. I would have never imagined that in my entire life that I would ever been given the chance to do such a thing. It was such a great and humbling feeling. Heather was going to give the introduction of our speech, but I was next. I heard Heather give me my cue, and then I walked up to the podium….

Yuga, YAP’s and Shoot Nation’s joint presentation at the United Nations
It is such an unbelievably amazing feeling voicing your opinion on the world stage, especially as a teen. Representing youth from all around the world, I felt empowered, knowing that my voice finally counted for something. World leaders listened to what I had to say. If some youth in this world managed to get politicians, prime ministers and a secretary general to listen to them, I think there can be hope for youth everywhere. Give us some choices, and I’m sure you’ll see that young people are much more valuable than what you think.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

YUGA meets US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse!

Above, YUGA members Luis, Angie, and Rachel stand with Plan USA's interim CEO, Audrey Bracey-Deegan and US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse at Plan USA's Warwick office.

While many middle school and high school students were gearing up for the start of school yesterday, several YUGA members ended the summer on a slightly different-- and more political note!
Yesterday, YUGA members Luis, Angie, and Rachel spoke with US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. Having been an original cosponsor of the bill, Senator Whitehouse talked with the YUGA members about child marriage and how we can all work together to get this important legislation passed.
Child marriage, defined as marriage before age 18, affects more than 60 million girls worldwide. In some countries, half of the girls are married before they turn 18. For some girls, they don't reach age 10 before being married, often to a man they have never met.
While this harmful practice exists worldwide, YUGA members took action to protect girls and help them reach their full potential. At YUGA Camp, a workshop was held about the international crisis of child marriage. At the workshop, YUGA painted a 'Thank You!' sign to RI Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, an original co-sponsor of the bill, and presented him with our banner, pictures from the workshop, and a YUGA t-shirt!
Above, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sits with Angie, Rachel, and Luis in the YUGA Hut!

Above, the pictures presented to Senator Whitehouse show the
Child Marriage workshop at YUGA Camp and the presentation of 11,000 signed letters
in support of the Child Marriage Prevention Bill at Congress.


Angie shows Senator Whitehouse a picture of the young girl who her YUGA Chapter helps to sponsor in Benin.

Check out the YUGA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/yugacentral to see more pictures from the meeting!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


YUGA campers took on global and local issues this year at Camp

Idalis sporting her YUGA Camp 2010 tshirt

Having fun at YUGA Camp!!

From July 18th to July 24th around 40 youth from across the United States and abroad came together for an exciting week at YUGA (Youth United for Global Action and Awareness) Camp! This year, YUGA Camp was held at Camp Aldersgate in scenic North Scituate, Rhode Island. Throughout the week, our campers learned about various global issues (including fair trade, refugees, child exploitation, genocide, HIV, and more) through interactive workshops, daily "World Cup" family challenges, and some wonderful guest speakers.

Luis sketching scenes during a documentary-making workshop

This year at camp, we also had a delicious international dinner night (featuring food from Liberia, Thailand, and Norway), learned to dance Capoeira, tie-dyed tshirts, went swimming, roasted marshmallows, walked a high ropes course, sumo wrestled, and made some great memories.

Paola, Deona, and Priyanka took on the high ropes at camp

Daniel demonstrating Capoeira

Heidi presents her traditional Norwegian dish at international dinner

Picking up trash, making a street beautiful, giving residents hope

Some of our YUGA campers planting flowers in South Providence

Our fantastic group also participated in a street clean-up in South Providence, packed lunches for Crossroads of Rhode Island, and wrote letters to congressmen advocating for an end to child marriage. It was truly and inspiring week for our campers and counselors alike.

Oscar, Maura, Arisa, Allegra, Samir, and Clare at Camp Aldersgate

Flora advocating for an end to child marriage

Sumo wrestling during our international carnival

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back in Estados Unidos

Though our trip to El Salvador has ended, I thought I should end with a blog post...

I have traveled before, taken trains to Boston and planes as far way as Paris, and every time the scenery grew familiar, I remember thinking of the comfort and pleasure I have in coming home. However, when the plane window began to frame pictures of Newport, I didn't feel the same feeling. During the trip, I met some of the most vibrant, animated, friendly and loving people and the energy they radiated and the atmosphere they created was gone with El Salvador. I was accepted in an instant and never once was I afraid to dance to Shakria or stutter out Spanish in front of fifty youth. And once I did, I was only met with smiles, laugher and praising. Perhaps, I can go back to Latin America, which I already prefer over Europe, but will it ever be the same? The food, the music and the culture will of course persist, but the atmosphere of the conference will not. I will never forget playing football (soccer) under a warm sun with just bathing suits, calling each other by our countries to pass the ball or exchanging thoughts through three different languages. Now the circle that was "Somos Voces, Somos Regions" (the name of the conference) has re-dispersed back to the thirteen American countries and settled back into routines. And knowing that I might never see my Plan peers again is saddening. We are still though, a region, and I want us to continue to work together as youth to keep this up.
I decided that once I captured a place full of this indescribable energy, I now know I need to find it again. Even if it's in small doses, playing football again or dancing to salsa will bring El Salvador back. I found that I need to be around more people like those in El Salvador, and that vibe is what I need. I think this need to recapture this energy, will inspire me to take more risks in the future, travel to Latin America again, work to help others, learn Spanish and find who I want to be. Someone once told me, find what makes you fly and go with it, this trip has given me the motivation and courage to do just that. Telling my dad this, he responded, "you have your whole life ahead of you," and he is right, I do. I can do whatever I want, and I already find myself itching to get out of here and into the sky.

Shout outs to Kate and John, the best chaperons as well as Plan El Salvador for coordinating an amazing event and Plan International for bringing all its youth together and promoting our voices, our stories and our power, for hosting an incredible environment and never once doubting its youth.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This is it :)

Amazing no? We went to the Mayan Ruins in El Salvador. It took my breath away. I’ve never seen anything like it. I just couldn’t believe I was standing in a place so full of history and culture.
This whole experience has been amazing. I've learned so much and have met such amazing people who will always hold a place in my heart. I think that I've grown so much from this. I've got to admit that I was very nervous when I first came but I've grown to love this place. I'm sure going to miss seeing the mountain on my way to breakfast. I just can't wait to see how all the other countries are doing two months from now. Best of luck and thank you El Salvador for being so Awesome!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


My head is spinning with all the activity and ideas that have been generated during the first two days of the conference. A few of the thoughts swirling around are:

- How much I admire and respect the 4 YUGA members who are the ambassadors for the USNO at this conference. I know that they have struggled with figuring out their place as youth from a national office versus youth from program countries. From an outsider's perspective I feel that they done an excellent job of finding overlap and discovering new opportunities to move the mission of YUGA forward.

- Pupusas make a excellent breakfast food

- The view from my bedroom window in Providence is going to pale in comparison to waking up with a view of the countryside of El Salvador.

- ROA has endless songs and icebreakers to get the energy flowing...as a person who does not willingly participate in icebreakers, I find myself wanting to participate...and I think the songs will be stuck in my head for weeks to come.

- Police escorts make moving through morning traffic in San Salvador much quicker.

- El Salvador makes the best hot chocolate

- Youth involved with Plan's programs are some of the most dynamic, passionate, intelligent, caring and inclusive youth I have ever met...I am honored that I am invited to hang out with them.

- I wish that all Plan staff and supporters could experience what I am experiencing right now...this is what Plan is all about: a global network of youth leaders fully participating, shaping their involvement and their future, using their voice and their experiences to move Plan forward!

- If they keep giving us hot chocolate and pupusas I may never leave!!!

Yo quiero El Salvador

I haven't written in a few days, we've been so busy! Our conference started Monday, but we all ate dinner together on Sunday night. It's so overwhelming to speak a different language than everyone else; now we know how the international campers at YUGA camp feel. It's a great experience, but it's exhausting. We have two great translators, though, and we can communicate a little with gestures and the few words of Spanish we know. I wish I had taken Spanish in school! But, because it's difficult to communicate with each other, I think our bonds are stronger because we put a greater effort into communicating. Like last night, Sara and I talked to two Columbian youth, Jhon and Andres, through Google Translator. I am so amazed by what the youth here say and do. At first, everyone was laughing and being crazy and having fun, but then the conference started and we saw how intelligent and insightful they really are. They have a real sense of duty and responsibility to the world and their communities.
I don't know who is reading this, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank El Salvador, their Plan office, and their youth. This is truly an experience that can not be replicated, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Follow the Live Video Stream Today

UPDATE: (7/14/2010) The Live UStream is up to almost 100% streaming capability today, Wednesday, July 14, 2010. Live Stream!

Sorry for the glitching on the Live Stream - they/we're working on it! Hopefully we'll get it re-uploaded later without the lag: http://yugacentral.blogspot.com/p/live-video-stream-somos-voces.html

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Somos Voces Somos Región Facebook Page

[UPDATE] Both the Twitter feed and the Facebook Like Box have been embedded on the SomosRegion.org Website | http://somosregion.org/ ESO!

Somos Voces Somos Región has a brand new Facebook Page - Click the Like button below to Get Connected! Hopefully we'll get it embedded on the website tomorrow at http://somosregion.org/

"Somos Voces Somos Región!"

Today has been an such an amazing and overwhelming day. All the kids came in today and it has been so much fun meeting them. It's only our first day and we already seem like a big family. We just got back from a dinner full of laughter, food and translations. The different languages here are Spanish, French, Portuguese, English, and Creole to name a few. What blows me away is the fact that although we all speak different languages, a simple smile can bring us together. What really moved me however was seeing how Sara, Susan, and Allie interacted with the other kids although they didn't speak the same language. They were teaching each other Spanish and English with little phrases such as "nice to meet you," and "cuantos anos tienes?"
Basically an amazing time. Can't wait for tomorrow!!

#SomosVoces Twitter Hashtag

Before the Somos Voces Youth Media Conference officially begins, I would love to try out a Twitter Widget that may be used for both internal and external communications at the conference: The Twitter Hashtag - aka: #

For all of you on twitter, simply type #SomosVoces after your twitter message to be pulled into the live conversation. For those of you who are not on Twitter, no worries, you can still follow the live stream here: http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23somosvoces

This is a test, but may turn out to be extremely helpful!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I have the best job in the world without a doubt!

I have been hesitant to post to the blog because I worry too much about what to say, should I try to be funny, reflective, philosophical...

One feeling that has remained constant is how lucky I am that taking trips all over of the world with amazing colleagues and brilliant youth is part of my job description! Working at Plan offers all staff unparalleled opportunities but getting to work directly with youth allows me to feel directly connected to to the work that Plan does in 60 countries around the world. My days vary from linking youth from the US with their peers in 48 developing countries to organizing a summer youth leadership camp for youth from around the world to traveling with 4 youth ambassadors to conferences such as the one that officially begins tomorrow here in San Salvador.

The Voces Youth Media Conference is bringing together youth and Plan staff from 12 countries throughout Latin America and the US. The youth will have a week to get to know one another, share best practices, strengthen their skills both as youth leaders and media makers and most importantly become part of a unique global network of youth focused on using their voices to create positive change. The conference has not even started and I am inspired by what could be. I know that by next Friday I am going to take a moment, sit at this desk looking out over the countryside of San Salvador and think to myself..." I have the best job in the world...without a doubt!"

5 dólares!

July 10th
Today is our first complete day in El Salvador! I even woke up to spanish music this morning. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast then burned it all off in the gym. After a dip in the pool, we ventured out into the city! Estaba bien bonito! We went to the mercados de Artesanias and bought a bunch of souvenirs and goodies. After shopping, we ate at a local restaurant. Era muy delicioso! I could definitely get used to eating spanish food :) Upon arriving back at the hotel, we met some fellow conference goers from the Dominican Republic. Now we are playing Pass the Pig, hanging out, and enjoying the view. We will be going out to dinner with some of the people from the conference later tonight!

"Just say no"

This morning we woke up bright and early at eight...okay so that's ten in the morning in Rhode Island, but it counts for something! We all sat down to a great breakfast of fruit, plantains, pupusas, and freshly squeezed juice. And chocolate donuts. After relaxing and hitting the gym and pool, we headed in taxis to the mercado de artesanias. I was glad to see more of the city on the drive there. The mercado was bright, lively, and colorful. I managed to make a few purchases even though I had absolutely no idea what the salespeople were saying. Which probably explains why I ended up buying a few other things that I had no intention of buying. Finally, after a saleswoman had handed me about three different paintings that I had happened to glance at, I looked at Susan who then gave me a few valuable words of advice. "Allie, just say no."
We had a great time in the mercado, though, and it was a really unique experience!
Thanks for reading!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!

Muchos Photos de el Dia