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Gadner Kagovai has always been sure of the career path he would follow. Growing up in the Solomon Islands, he dreamed of becoming a politician. Today, at 26 years old, Gadner has invested considerable effort in bringing that dream to life.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, Gadner’s studies in the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (AB Political Science) at AMA Computer University in the Philippines came to an abrupt halt, forcing him to return prematurely to his island home. Back in Honiara and looking for ways to serve his community, he signed up to volunteer with the Political Parties Commission, Honiara City Library, and Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI).
Gadner recalls his participation in the TSI Youth Democracy Camp from 12 – 16 July 2021 as a highlight of his volunteer experience. “The sessions covered during the week ranged from what politics is, elections, political parties, party systems, the Constitution of Solomon Islands, law of Solomon Islands, and the three arms of government. In the evenings, we had debates, panel discussions, drama, and skits based on various topics covered during the day sessions,” he said.
The one-week camp shaped his perspective for the better and transformed his mindset; “It helped to redirect my thoughts, from ignorance to how to contribute as a youth in the fight against corruption and in matters of public interest.”
Gadner, front left, believes more young people need to be involved in such camps to help them understand the importance and value of contributing to decision-making, and how to go about it.
“My experience at Parangiju taught me three important lessons. It taught me about my rights as a citizen, including my rights as a voter and the right to choose freely without external influence. Secondly, it taught me about my responsibilities as a youth. Most young people view politics as something that only senior or older people get involved in and they don’t realise that the decisions made by their leaders also affects them and their future. Lastly, the camp taught me about how the government system of Solomon Islands operates. It taught me about what politics is in the Solomon Islands and how as a young person, I can be engaged and where I fit into the system,” he said.
The Transparency Solomon Islands Democracy Youth Camp was an advocacy training workshop supported by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Pacific People Advancing Change (PPAC) programme.
Gadner is one of many beneficiaries of the support rendered to Transparency Solomon Islands through the Pacific People Advancing Change (PPAC) programme. PPAC supports Pacific-style advocacy campaigns on a range of critical human rights issues. With funding from the European Union and the Governments of Sweden, Australia and the United States Agency for International Development, PPAC’s support targets CSOs in the Federated State of Micronesia (FSM), Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The programme includes advocacy training workshops, ongoing mentoring and provision of small grants.
A common approach adopted in PPAC advocacy campaigns is to place people at the centre, proving extremely valuable during the adverse times faced by the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this support, Gadner said his experience had added value to his life and positively impacted his career and role as a citizen of the Solomon Islands.
“I have had the chance to put into practice everything I learnt from the youth camp by helping to advocate for youth whose voices are not heard. I am more informed about my rights and responsibilities; I am able to advocate constructively on issues affecting my country and society; I can help educate my fellow citizens who cannot access such significant information; and most importantly, this experience has complemented my pursuit of my career.”
PPAC is implemented by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division.
Contact information: Samantha Rina: [email protected]
Donna Makini [email protected]