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Through the eyes of the volunteers: Youth Manifesto

Can you believe a year has passed since the start of our project ‘To Vote, I Voice: Don’t Count YOUth Out!’? If you haven’t heard or read about our youth engagement and participation project that took place last year, click here to read about the project and its purpose! The outcome of the project was a youth manifesto on 4 topics: education, mental health, employment, and environment. A group of youth participants presented the youth manifesto to His Excellency Governor of Aruba in late 2021 and just recently to the Minister of Economy, Communication, and Sustainable Development, Mr. Geoffrey Wever.

One of the youth representatives is Nathan Perez, a volunteer who has actively participated in the ‘To Vote, I Voice’ project from start to finish and contributed to the making of the youth manifesto.

Here’s what Nathan had to say about his experience participating in the ‘To Vote, I Voice’ project and what it was like for him in the company of young people to exchange impactful ideas for the future generation with the Governeur of Aruba and Minister Geoffrey Wever.

About me

Hi everyone! My name is Nathan Perez. I am 18 years old and currently in my last year studying in Aruba. Since 2019 I have participated in different HCLF projects and workshops, which until now have only been tremendous experiences, thanks to HCLF I have acquired new positive skills that have helped me in my personal and professional growth.

What was it like to participate in the “To Vote, I Voice”?

In 2021, before the political elections, I was invited to participate in the HCLF project: To Vote, I Voice. Participating in the To Vote, I Voice project was a very unique experience in particular, as Aruba's youth are rarely given the opportunity to express or voice their concerns on current issues. Well, this time HCLF gave me and a group of young people the opportunity to sit together and voice our thoughts on different topics. We were able to bring possible solutions that could improve our concerns and at the same time also pay attention to what is already being executed that is for the benefit of the community of our island. For me, that was something very important and that’s what I liked the most about this project! Because we have not only focused on the negative things of the system, but also on the positive things that are already being done.

© Photos courtesy of the Cabinet of the Governor of Aruba & the Cabinet of the Wever-Croes

What was it like to meet and speak to the Governor of Aruba and Min. Geoffrey Wever?

In December 2021, I, along with other young people each representing an area, had the opportunity to sit down with the Governor to present the different topics on which we work through a manifesto, where there were suggestions from our point of view as young people about our concerns. After 7 months in July of this year, we also had the opportunity to deliver this manifesto to the Minister of Communication, Economy and Sustainable Development, Minister Geoffrey Wever. Despite the fact that we didn’t have plenty of time to discuss all 14 points, we managed to talk about the importance of youth participation and at the same time, we underlined that as young people we would like to be more involved in decisions that are made in the government and even more so when it's about youth.

What did it mean for you to share your concerns and suggestions with Min. Geoffrey Wever as a youth?

For me, it meant something very important and responsible to be able to speak and deliver the youth manifesto to Minister Geoffrey Wever. This is because as young citizens we have to know how to use our right of expression and also contribute in one way or another to the community. In our case, we did this by bringing suggestions on possible solutions for different points that can be improved in the system. This makes it a privilege and honor for me to represent the voice of many young people who perhaps for one reason or another do not have the opportunity to do so.

What was the most memorable moment that you experienced through the ‘To Vote, I Voice’ project?

The most memorable moments were being able to work as a team with different types of young people with the ambition and aspiration to create a better community. Something very significant was also the opportunity on 2 occasions to be able to sit down with 2 governmental figures and act as a voice representing the youth of Aruba by expressing our concerns and being able to bring possible solutions.

What did I learn from this experience?

The importance of having the courage to use my right of expression as a youth. Everything is easier and possible as a team!

How will I apply this experience in my personal or professional life?

I think that the best way to apply this experience in my life is to start with small steps that are within my reach that I can apply myself and motivate others as well so that they can take their own steps and begin to be aware of their right to expression.

What do I take away from this experience?

When we were participating in the project there were guests from different government departments who came to give presentations with valuable information about the work they are already doing and plans they have for the future. All this valuable information is of great help to know where we stand as a country and thus we can also know better what is missing to work on it. All of this is information and knowledge that I have acquired by participating in the To Vote, I Voice project.

The To Vote, I Voice project was co-financed by Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben & CEDE Aruba.

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