youth

In a large tent shrouded in dust, Safia Lansar’s family gathers to drink tea. The 85-year-old’s grandson-in-law, Mohamed, rhythmically pours the steaming liquid back and forth from cup to cup. Mohamed's infant son lies sleeping on the ground, wrapped in a cloth swarming with flies. They sit on the land where Mohamed was born. His son was born here, too. But not Safia.

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I realized Syria had turned into Mad Max. We were driving through Manbij, a small tumbleweed kind of town in the dusty northern outskirts of Aleppo province on a Friday afternoon during Ramadan, about a month before the August 21 chemical-weapons attacks that finally forced the international spotlight onto Syria’s two-year civil war.

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has become a formidable force for rights in the year since the Taliban shot her, but an equally formidable public relations operation has helped her spread her message. The 16-year-old campaigner for girls' education has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, addressed the UN, published an autobiography and been invited to tea with Queen Elizabeth II, achieving a level of fame more like that of a movie star.

Since the military ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, Egypt has been in turmoil. The country is operating under emergency law, and a strict curfew is enforced from 6 AM to 9 PM, except on Fridays when civilians must be indoors by 7 PM. Over 1,000 civilians died last month during the bloody standoff between the Egyptian Army and Muslim Brotherhood members. These dangerous and violent battles pushed revolutionary youth off the streets—the original organizers who fought for democracy since January 25, 2011.

Dumitru Condrea has big plans, but an even bigger problem. After six years working in civil society, the affable 25-year-old activist says his hope for change has eroded. He says he loves his country, but has run out of options. “If you want to change something, you need money. And I can’t make money here in Moldova.”

Burka Avenger is a Pakistani cartoon about an ass-kicking superheroine who fights bad guys and wears a ninja-style burka to conceal her identity. The show has been making its rounds through the media echo chamber, sparking discussions on the appropriateness of using the burqa as a tool for female empowerment. For the blowhards, either the Burka Avenger is exactly what the Pakistani youth need for social reform, or it's corrupting the youth by trying to normalize burkas for children.

Despite soggy conditions, including a brief downpour, more than 100 people still showed up for the St. Petersburg, Russia-based youth ensemble, Golden Gates at Poinciana United Methodist Church last Thursday. By imitating dancers, sampling instruments or copying the rhythmic clapping and foot stomping of Russian dance, the audience got a taste of faraway culture when the youth ensemble performed a 90-minute show providing an entertaining and authentic glimpse into Old Russia.

In partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF), the Youth:Work project is working in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to assess the needs and aspirations of young people, the hurdles they face in seeking employment, and the opportunities that can help them improve their lives and prospects. This holistic mapping exercise, called Youth:Map, is developed through interviews with business, community, government, and youth leaders.

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