IN 2012 TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) received two students from the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC) on a student work placement program. For two days a week the students assisted the TIV staff with practical tasks and in return they received experience and learned more about the values that TIV was advocating for, and the issues that were being advocated against.
One of the students was Nolan Salmon Parairua from the Solomon Islands, he was a student from the Youth Work class at the APTC. Fast forward to four years later, he is currently an active youth leader and continues to help promote rural youth development and youth inclusion in the Solomon Islands. He is also the Director, as well as the Founder, of the Solomon Islands Youth Strive Investors for Liberty Association.
When asked how his time with TIV helped him to move on in his career path Nolan pointed out that TIV helped him to understand better why team-work is an essential component to achieving goals. Nolan continues to say that his time with TIV helped him to understand the nature of politics, but more importantly it equipped him with the necessary information he needed to help people and their “communities understand what is politics and the leaders that people elect them” he says.
“It expanded my thinking in terms of helping people to fight against all sorts of corruptions and creating a worthwhile life in the country, community, family or individual” Nolan says.
Nolan was also part of Transparency International Vanuatu 2012 Election Observers, he observed at the town hall in Port Vila.
Eventually, Nolan’s work with the youth took an exciting turn when he was recently recognized by the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme (QYLP) in June. The QYLP program, according to their website, “discovers, celebrates and supports exceptional youth people from across the commonwealth”, the website further explains that the QYLP recognizes young people who are taking “the lead in the communities and using their skills to transform lives”.
Last month Nolan flew to the United Kingdom to receive his award from the Queen herself. When asked how he felt, he said that “I felt blessed that even the poorest people in the world have been blessed by God alone. Regardless of any challenges faced we can do it because God has a fixed plan for us”.
“I am proud because I am one of the (former) Youth Worker (student) at the APTC, and TIV too. I am proud of young people in my country and those for whom we work together at all levels” Nolan said.
Nolan, who is originally from Malaita, explained that his interest in youth work began at a very early stage; he joined youth and community activities, music, soccer, cultural music, and the weaving of home baskets. In due course he began to lead other young people, “this is where I started my youth leadership role up until today” he says.
He says he is passionate about young people and wants to see that youth issues including negative activities must be reduced. He is doing this because he wants to empower, improve and develop young people throughout his country and that all their young voices could be included in the decision making process of the Solomon Islands.
Nolan’s youth association – the Solomon Islands Youth Strive Investors for Liberty Association – is an organization with working strategies, a mission, and a vision. And according to the organisations code of conducts and policies they work help young people and their own communities with youth workshops, awareness, literacy trainings, youth retreats, case management, counselling, helping young people to find their rightful vocation, and helping young people to find further education.
They also promote human rights, political campaigns, and register youth groups in the rural areas and help them with income generating projects.
Nolan was not the only youth from the Pacific who gained the prestigious award from the QYLP, from Vanuatu we had Mary Siro who works with young people at Wan Smol Bag. Other young people from other pacific island nations were also recognized for their passion in youth work.
If you have a copy of the Vanuatu Constitution look at Chapter 2, Part 2 (b), it explains the fundamental duties of citizen and relates a lot to the work of youth development at the community context; “to recognize that he can fully develop his abilities and advance his true interests only by active participation in the development of the national community”.
Photo; by QYLP