AYOS at Ayudahan, Inc: Empowering the Youth for a Sustainable Future

In Zamboanga City, three passionate individuals came together to consult with young people in communities and address their pressing needs. Rica Natividad, a humanitarian worker, educator, and community organizer, collaborated with Atty. Cristina Javier-Jimenez, a human rights advocate, to discuss matters affecting the lives of the youth in Zamboanga City. They were joined by Rondulf Egbus, a community youth leader and pioneer member of Mindanao Youth for Development. This collective effort led them to the formation of Advocating Youth towards Outstanding Sustainability (AYOS) at Ayudahan, Inc. With a pragmatic approach and unwavering dedication, AYOS strives to empower the youth and create a sustainable future.

Atty. Cristina shares the inception of AYOS at Ayudahan, Inc. at the LEaP! YOUTH EXPO 2023
Members of AYOS at Ayudahan, Inc. participate at the LEaP! YOUTH EXPO 2023. Photo credit: Lawrence Agustin.

AYOS believes in the power of youth voices and actively seeks their input. Through community rollouts and participatory situational analyses, AYOS engaged with young individuals and asked about their pressing concerns at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This inclusive approach allowed AYOS to understand the challenges faced by the youth in Zamboanga City, paving the way for the development of targeted programs that cater to their needs.

One of the key concerns raised in the consultation was lack of Internet access. To address this concern, AYOS launched Connect Youth towards Bigger E-Learning Range or the CYBER Project. This initiative aims to bridge the digital divide among people’s organizations and government offices. In collaboration with the First Legislative District Office and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, AYOS implemented the CYBER Project in Barangay Limpapa as its primary recipient. Through this project, AYOS also provided free WiFI access to empower the people in the barangay and ensure they have the necessary resources to thrive in the digital age. AYOS aspires to expand this project to other barangay as well.

Poor waste disposal is also a major concern in the communities. AYOS is committed to environmental sustainability and has launched its flagship program, Ways for Waste. This campaign focuses on proper waste disposal and management, conducting community assessments, organizing clean-up drives with waste audits, and reporting valuable data. Through collaborations with the congressional office and the Department of Labor and Employment, AYOS has facilitated the bridging of hundreds of young individuals to livelihood opportunities.

Another major concern of the youth is low employability due to the lack of quality education and well-developed skills. AYOS recognizes the importance of education and skills development in empowering the youth.AYOS also has capacity-building activities for the youth. They have several completers of their courses and skills training. By nurturing educational growth, AYOS ensures that young individuals have the necessary tools to succeed and progress from their concerns. 

Additionally, AYOS collaborates with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide essential educational assistance to those in need.  Through partnerships with the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, AYOS has helped make scholarships accessible to young people, further promoting inclusive learning opportunities.

AYOS at Ayudahan, Inc. is proud to be the first Non-Technical Vocational Institute grantee of USAID Opportunity 2.0 Second-Chance Opportunities for Out-of-School Youth in the Philippines. This recognition highlights the dedication of AYOS to creating meaningful opportunities for young individuals and helping them build a brighter future.

AYOS at Ayudahan, Inc. stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, community engagement, and sustainability. Their programs, ranging from bridging the digital divide to promoting sustainable practices and fostering education growth, are making a tangible difference in the lives of young people in Zamboanga City. As they continue to advocate for outstanding sustainability, AYOS paves the way for a brighter, more empowered future for the youth.

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