Meet a People4Change Youth Advisor in Zambia
Darlington Farai Muyambwa is a Youth Advisor deployed in Zambia. His placement focuses on improving the participation of youth, and especially young women, in political, civic, electoral, and social accountability processes and spaces.
Darlington is from Zimbabwe and supports young people, youth-led organisations as well as partners associated with the youth work of ActionAid Zambia, for them to strengthen their capacity to engage with and integrate youth in their work.
Primarily, Darlington supports the Global Platform in Zambia, where he advises and provides technical backing to staff, for example through trainings on how to deliver on youth priorities and how to work with youth led social movements and organizations. He also engages directly with the ActionAid Zambia Office on these issues, to develop the programmatic and institutional capacity to mainstream youth in their work and by supporting the Youth Team to do research on youth participation in governance as well as how to engage in strategic national, regional, and global advocacy.
Additionally, Darlington works directly with youth-led organisations, including young volunteers, where he provides support through mentoring and technical expertise, supports them to mobilise, participate, engage, and be represented in decision making processes at local and national levels – to become change agents in their communities. This also involves supporting youth groups to develop, coordinate and implement their own activities based on identified issues.
What is the role of an advisor?
"In ActionAid if you are innovative, passionate and driven you always find pockets of influence. You always find someone who is ready to listen, and always find a young person who sees value in what you do. Because they come to this place for that. That is something that drives me every day."
When asked about his role as an advisor, Darlington explains that this involves many aspects: being a mentor, a trainer, a researcher, a technical expert, and a writer. He further adds: "My role is also to be that person who provide an external view, an external eye, that helps the organization to look at itself differently. I bring in different experiences from a different context, multi-sectoral view to issues, which help and strengthen the work. In my role, I bring a different dimensions and innovation that then strengthen capacity".
Another part of Darlington’s role is to strengthen the partnerships and network with other youth focused organisations, by identifying and build alliances with youth- and women-led community based organisations working on youth rights and participation.
In his engagement with the youth led social movement Youth for Parliament he mentions, as an example, he was able to support them in identifying new collaboration partners, in their fight to increase the participation of young people in social, political and economic issues in Zambia and set the tone for the 2021 general elections. The election was generally peaceful and had a huge turnout for both registration and at the election. The elections resulted in over a 100 % increase in youth members elected for parliament.
At the global level, Darlington is part of a network of advisors on various thematic areas where they exchange ideas and best practices that influence various work streams in his role of advising ActionAid Zambia’s country program. The advisor’s network is like an extended toolbox that Darlington often consults with for various aspects of his work.
When reflecting on what challenges he has faced in the Advisor role, Darlington highlights that entering a new environment and a new culture can be challenging at times. It takes time to build trust and good relationships to the people you work with, which for him is key in adjusting to a new context. Allowing this to take time, learning as one go and accepting sometimes to be the observer, are ways Darlington managed the challenge of being new to the context.