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Youth Challenge International


Youth Challenge International designs global development solutions that create the conditions for youth to thrive and prosper. YCI’s programs use creative approaches to equip young people with the tools, experience, knowledge and networks to build sustainable livelihoods. YCI’s projects are currently located in Africa, South America and Asia.


585 Dundas Street East
3rd Floor
Toronto ON M5A 2B7


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I went to Koforidua on a youth entrepreneurship project in summer 2014. Together with two other partners, we designed and implemented workshops on topics including business opportunity identification, business plan writing, entrepreneurial concepts, CV writing and source of financing for the local youth who were interested to start their own small businesses.

During our work, we found the local youth can be shy, yet love to share when the ice broke. We loved the interactive workshops that we had with them, regardless of the number of attendants we had. Sometimes we are frustrated, as the locals do not prefer to come out after a rainfall, yet sometimes we got more surprises from the people who showed up. In addition, Ghanaians are very polite people, highly religious and honourable. Our home stay mom was on top of that. She treated us as her own children and made us a home in Ghana.

Our group had an eventful project yet through the interaction with YCI, we realized that they are taking very good care of us, both in normal or emergent situations. This is what we appreciate the most for. And one key point that I would recommend for people to join YCI's program.

Throughout the project, volunteers were able to develop the capabilities in terms of teamwork, leadership and public speaking skills, adding the professional knowledge related to the project goal. Also, we get a taste of living in an entirely different environment which can be challenging. It changes people positively as long as there is eagerness to open oneself up to this world. And there is way to learn!

How can this program be improved?
I am impressed with the information that YCI organized and delivered for the project participants' learning and reference. To go further, I would prefer that in addition to the paper materials, alternative methods can be added to the pre-learning session. For example, in the pre-learning session, YCI can put the participants in the scenario which they would most likely encounter in the local community, for example in a role play, and deliver the mock experience to them. Moreover, and integrated learning sessions can be held in the team context so the group can know one another better before going into a challenging changing environment. If the team works well, it would certainly enhance the quality of work in the project.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I stayed in Zanzibar through YCI for three months and had an amazing experience. While there, I volunteered through a local organization, providing business training to men at a drug recovery centre and providing civic education workshops for young people. I was provided my own laptop and each workday I had an office I could work at. I was also free to work from home or work from a restaurant as desired.

I felt very well supported by YCI the entire time. My homestay was excellent. Their home was very nice and they were very kind and spoke perfectly fluent English. I was well looked after and always felt safe. The local YCI office was so helpful, explaining the local context to make my work more relevant and setting up meeting. They also helped me with personal issues, whether stitching up my broken sandals or helping me buy groceries from a local market. One of the local YCI volunteers would show me the sites on the weekends and some nights I would join him to teach kids English. It really added to my experience. I also knew I had the YCI office in Canada and they were very responsive as well.

Zanzibar itself is beautiful. The people there live a modest, traditional lifestyle and are very kind. I felt very safe at all times and regularly rode on public transit. I joined teenagers playing soccer. I felt very welcomed. There is so much stuff to do in Zanzibar, beaches, tourist attractions, restaurants and local people are always willing to get to know you.

I strongly recommend making a trip like this and think YCI is a great way to go. The North American staff and the local staff where you travel are all very compassionate and enthusiastic about what they do.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I was stationed in Arusha with YCI and had one of the greatest experiences of my life. YCI is an awesome program that is designed for people who want to make an impact and develop as a human being. My experience with YCI is truly one I will never forget.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Your volunteer experience will open your eyes to an entirely different world and your enjoyment depends on how you handle it. Our situation was a unique in that we were working on a pilot project with a lot of ambiguity. YCI did a good job of giving us everything we needed to work with but it was up to us to decide the best methods for our project. This freedom has pros and cons.. pro: ability to make local adaptations, change easily, huge sense of accomplishment and cons: lots of ambiguity, increased responsibility to not only teach the lesson plans but create them. Would recommend to anyone who is willing to put in the work it takes to create something meaningful. :)

How can this program be improved?
Location was somewhat isolated, would have benefited from being around other volunteers from a social perspective.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I had always wanted to volunteer internationally and in 2010 the opportunity came up when Youth Challenge International had 20 scholarships for its 20th anniversary. I was one of the first non-Canadian volunteers on the program and since I was born in Guyana and lived in the Caribbean, I ruled out Guyana and Costa Rica and applied for a one month program in Ghana instead. While the scholarship covered some of my costs, I still had to fund raise which is a critical component of the YCI program and it allowed me to be creative with my efforts (dog sitting, baby sitting etc.). I also like the online program and support where I was able to share with other volunteers how we were preparing for this adventure.

Once in Ghana we had in country orientation and debriefs and we always had the support of the Country Program Manager. I must admit it was a bit overwhelming at first, new environment, new skills being developed but sometimes you do need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to grow and become a better person.

The one difficulty I encountered was a short bout of a bad reaction to some food but that was over and done with in 24 hours.

I was able to work with my peers to develop and deliver training programs in Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Active Citizenship and much more.

Yes, I recommend this program


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