By: Afomia Gebre, Dalhousie University College of Pharmacy student
This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the African Youth and Convergence conference held in Accra, Ghana. This conference creates a platform where like-minded delegates from the continent and the diaspora connect to brainstorm ways to progress Africa to a Continent Beyond Aid. At the core of this conference, and the organization that hosts it, is the idea that youth are the future and therefore we should be invited to conversations about the development of the continent (and the world). This conference was made up of different committees. Delegates were placed in a committee of their choosing and each committee was presented with real issues hindering Africa’s development and were tasked with creating solutions to these problems. After collaborating with your committee members, you create a motion and present it to the other committees then following a debate, it was voted whether the motion was passed into a resolution or not.
Putting into words how enriching and fulfilling this experience was for me is difficult. Being named chair and being tasked with leading a group, doing intensive research, writing a motion and participating in debates allowed me to further develop my existing skills such as leadership and develop new ones such as writing a motion. This conference also gave me the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals with a passion for Africa’s development, gain an international perspective on health and participate in conversations about global issues which allowed me to walk away with much more than just memories. Additionally, it gave me an understanding of what health issues were prominent in Africa and an understanding that at the core of these health disparities was the lack of accessibility to health services as well as a lack of education. It also exposed me to what other factors are hindering Africa’s develops and what possible solutions would help resolve those issues.
Outside of the days spent in the conference, we were given the opportunity to explore Accra. We were constantly immersed in Ghanaian culture from the jollof rice and fried plantain to the colourful markets filled with street vendors and locals. The experience was nostalgic for me; I haven’t been home to Ethiopia in nine years and being in Accra reminded me a lot of being in Addis Ababa; I felt as if I was home. Although the ten days I spent in Ghana were short lived, I returned to Nova Scotia with a head full of ideas and a new place to call home.
This experience was made possible with supports from the Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians (PLANS) program at Dalhousie.