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Youth Leadership School in Kolumbien: Ruth zeigt es der Welt

Ruth­ Uriana­de ­Armas­, ­a­ 21 -year-old­ indigenous­ Wayuu­ woman, ­is­ committed­ to­ addressing­ critical­ issues­ affecting­ the­ world around­ her,­ eradicating­ stereotypes,­ building­ her­ self-confidence­ and­ technical­ skills,­ and­ creating­ change­ in­ her­ community.

Cycles of violence, unemployment, and the impacts of climate change have left young people in the northwestern Colombian province of La Guajira with few prospects for the future.

The 3-year Youth Leadership School run by Malteser International and the local organization Programa de Desarrollo y Paz del Cesar empowers indigenous and Afro-Colombian youths to transform their communities.

“For me, the most important contribution of the Youth Leadership School is that it has managed to open our eyes and encourage us to broaden our horizons,” Ruth says. “The first two years were spent on theory classes and hands on workshops on topics such as health and hygiene, culture and environmental protection, food security, arts and communication. The video transformation workshops were particularly exciting because I discovered my talent for audio-visual communication. Since then, my goal has been to create more awareness about my culture.”

Besides imparting knowledge and methods, the first two years of the leadership school focus on strengthening self-confidence and faith in one’s own abilities. In the final year, the trained “change makers” apply what they have learned, carrying out their own projects in their villages and working with members of their communities on issues that affect them deeply.

Having graduated from the leadership school, Ruth is brimming with ideas for her native village of  Alewua in La Guajira and is optimistic about the future: “I have noticed great progress among the young people in Alewua,” she says. “We are now going to be looking beyond the boundaries and obstacles that were set to us. We know what we want for Alewua and we will continue to work on achieving our dreams.”“We want to show the world that  there are strong leaders in the rural, often  forgotten regions who are actively engaged in  bringing about positive change.“Ruth­Esther­Uriana­de­Armas21-year-old indigenous Wayuu woman

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