How Lourence Balatbat is Empowering his Community Thanks to MCW Global's Support
This article brings you the success of the Alumni Ventures Fund (AVF) through the eyes of Lourence Balatbat, an AVF beneficiary who is currently implementing the Beyond Three Billion (B3B) project- a youth-led, non-profit organization creating youth-responsive and youth-inclusive systems of governance that guarantee youth representation over matters affecting young people's lives.
Lourence speaks about how this project is making a difference in his community and how MCW Global's support sustained his path for being a bright young activist.
In addition, you will also hear from his mentor Marziyya S. Malik, who appreciates MCW Global's role in supporting youth — in a world where, unfortunately, young people do not enjoy the space they deserve.
As you will see later through this piece, Lourence envisioned a world where people under 35 are proportionately represented and actively involved in decision-making processes across all levels of governance.
And thanks to MCW Global's support, this vision turned into a project.
Read on for another inspiring journey proving how MCW Global plays a crucial role in preparing youth to become leaders of positive change in their communities.
B3B Bringing Growth
Since his first involvement with MCW Global four years ago, Lourence has gained a more nuanced appreciation for the impact of youth-led initiatives, regardless of their scale.
"I have come to realize how crucial it is for young people to take up space in society and shape the world they envision. Working with a team of youth volunteers, we work with communities in the Philippines, Benin, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea to create more sustainable and inclusive platforms for young people's political participation."
"By establishing partnerships with four local government units in Cotonou, Mbaitolu, Pasig, and Kerema, we aim to create a bridge between young people and the policies being created by engaging local authorities and policymakers to consider the inputs submitted by our youth participants," he says.
Currently, B3B is developing an online platform that will serve as an avenue for 150 youth beneficiaries to participate in local policymaking.
Whereas, over the past six months, B3B has organized different #B3BConversations to stimulate critical debates on youth-relevant social issues.
Among these was a virtual conference for the Nigerian youth participants.
"In this interactive webinar, the panel of speakers included Zainab Haruna, Kunle Lawal, and Great Owete — all of whom are experienced young Nigerian professionals and governance enthusiasts who bring dynamic perspectives to inclusive policymaking," he recalls.
With around 100 attendees from various regions in Nigeria and some participants from other countries, the conversation advocates for a shift in the way "youth participation" is perceived and practiced in Nigeria, Lourence adds.
B3B is also proactive in contributing to policies relevant to young people in the community.
"For instance, the B3B team in Papua New Guinea joined 13 other youth-serving organizations for an initiative by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) — PNG to put together a submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence of the Papua New Guinea National Parliament."
The B3B youth corner is a platform with three key features.
- It will allow the local government to share information about relevant policies and programs being deliberated upon or recently implemented. This will create a space for youth to openly access these public decisions, hence promoting greater transparency in local governance;
- It will allow its youth beneficiaries to access the information posted, share their comments and express their opinion through a poll, and suggest modifications;
- It will allow the youth beneficiaries to upload policy briefs or project proposals for the community government to read, consider, and/or adopt. A template that serves as a guide for young people who have no experience in drafting policy. For this, documents are made available to ensure that any young person with a great idea driven by a real need can be heard by their local leaders.
Appreciating MCW Global's Support Through the Years
When asked if supporting him in truth meant more than just supporting a single person, he recalls that the conceptual and practical tools that he gained over the past years from being a Young Leaders Fellowship mentor indeed impacted communities as a whole.
"Cultivating my learning and training with MCW, I saw the AVF as an opportunity to put my vision into reality and scale its impact to other communities beyond my own."
Lourence and his team are grateful to MCW Global for believing in their vision for young people and investing in communities in the Philippines, Benin, Nigeria, and Papua New Guinea.
"MCW Global has supported my leadership development since I was a mentee in the Program in 2017."
MCW Global's Support Sparking a New Movement for Youth
MCW Global, he goes on, has never wavered in its commitment to support its alumni, and he acknowledges that the AVF has helped him and his team imagine and pursue a more profound leadership role in society.
"The support from MCW Global has sparked a new movement for young people's greater involvement in governance that transcends mere attendance in political gatherings and possession of real decision-making power."
Through MCW Global's support for B3B, synergies are created among young changemakers from different countries in the Global South.
"Synergies that pave the way for a more just, inclusive, peaceful, and equitable society," he believes.
MCW Global Getting Young Brilliant Minds Back on Track
As discussed in our previous piece, the AVF also offers a year of professional mentorship.
In this part of our article, we will hear from Lourence's mentor during this wonderful journey, Marziyya S. Malik.
In Marziyya's words, her work with the youth has shown her heaps of potential of what they can all do if involved and subsequently given the right tools and opportunities, which interests her the most about MCW Global's work.
"Equipping young people with the right skills, right values, and most importantly, confidence to learn and make positive contributions towards the community they live in is tremendous work itself," she says while commenting on the MCW Global's contribution for youth.
"Lourence's idea for B3B is an amazing innovation — it's smart, it relies on the littlest resources with a potential to give back a whole lot to communities where it is implemented."
However, she further draws our attention "it is not exactly a smooth sailing journey, and nobody has it easy."
"There are bumps along the way and sometimes major roadblocks when it comes to creating real social change, which can be a deterrent for a young person who is headed out to do good things in the world."
On this note, she highlights:
"That is where MCW Global plays its most critical role, in getting these brilliant minds back on track and giving the required nudge."
She believes that sustainable development requires youth to play perhaps the most critical role; we have witnessed that MCW Global does precisely this.
By: Gresë Sermaxhaj
MCW Global encourages young people to participate and engage by giving them opportunities and necessary tools. Such is the case of another AVF beneficiary — Daniel Kwaku Owusu.
Spare five minutes from your time to read how amazing he is doing in his society, thanks to the support of MCW Global.