|Young People of Flanders Speak Up and Are Ready to Act!|
The National Congress of KAJ Flanders that took place last November 14-15, 2016 at the Generation Europe youth hostel was a great success. It was attended by around 35 young people coming from different regions of Flanders. The two-day congress was fun, filled with dynamic activities and debates on the reality young people and the movement are facing today.
The National Congress worked on four different themes: (1) strengthening the base groups and actions of the different regions; (2) equal opprtunities for everybody; (3) respect for life and solidarity among people; (4) decent life at work and school. These four themes are the main campaign of KAJ Flanders for the coming four years (2017-2020).
It is interesting to note that the young people have found their motivation as a base for their plan of action. One group said that the KAJ campaign is addressing their reality as young people, e.g. the divorce issue and problems at school. This campaign started a few years ago, and there is a need to continue and reach out more young people and other sectors such as young people with disability and poor families. The KAJ is everyone’s movement. One member said that the KAJ is his second home.
There should be respect for everybody regardless of colors, beliefs and nationalies. Some people may be racist but the KAJ is committed to educating people to change their perception and let them understand how good it is to get along with people who are different.
The world of work is rapidly changing and many young people are not very much aware of the causes and consequences of this reality. Their lives become vulnerable, especially for those young workers who are working as temporary workers. The KAJ will provide training, especially on labor rights and the rights of the person.
Our Action! Our Future!
Primarily, let KAJ be known by a greater number of young people! KAJ members and leaders should visit schools, working places, and young workers’ homes and talk with them about their situation. KAJ must be a place to fill the gap between their reality and their dreams. Regarding the limited participation of women in the movement, the KAJ will not only organize activities like sports/games in which most participants are men but it will also look beyond and reflect the interests of young women. It is necessary to diversify the activities with a multicultural approach.
Developing analysis with the use of the See-Judge-Act method will be reinforced. Doing it collectively is an important aspect to deepen the analysis on different pressing issues that young people are facing. Be aware that some mass media are feeding wrong information that only suits their interests. The KAJ will also deepen the migration and refugee issue.
In order to strengthen the links between regions, visits and exchanges will be organized in the coming four years. Sharing experiences is a good learning process and it will develop solidarity, not only among KAJ members but also with other YCW movements such as YCW Peru and it will further strengthen international solidarity.
In today’s world of digitalization where smartphones and social media are common for young people, the KAJ will make an experimental campaign called “No Social Media Day”, to emphasize the importance of talking and listening to each other face to face.
At school where the curriculum does not address practical and important things for young people, the KAJ will provide alternative training on politics, trade unionism, taxes and many other issues related to societal life. In addition, the KAJ will continue to lobby and negotiate with politicians on matters affecting young people and young workers.
Preserving our Values
Guy Tordeur and Bart Holvet, both KAJ former members have challenged the new generation of young people to restore and protect the values that tend to slowly vanish in our society.
The value of freedom, freedom from stress of having no money and no work. The KAJ should strive to make our current society fair for everybody.
The KAJ should not forget the value of solidarity, because it is a very powerful tool for change. Working with other people may be a challenge but it is important to reach out to many young people. Solidarity should not be exclusive because we may look different from young people of other countries, but our dreams and aspirations are all the same.
And lastly, as young leaders of the movement, we should not lose the value of self-respect. We are all capable to choose and make the right decisions to fulfill our dreams, and more importantly, to do things together.