This week on Youth Action, we share the story of a Youth Forum 2023 participant, Hana Elkaiei from Egypt, on her experience and engagement in drug use prevention.
Prior to joining the Youth Forum, Hana volunteered as an active member of the Fund for Drug Control and Treatment (FDCTA) in Egypt. She supported awareness-raising activities of the organisation in informing the public of the consequences of drug use at various venues, such as schools, universities, sporting clubs, and public squares. These activities included the dissemination of brochures to help convey key messages, including information on treatment options and a hotline number for people in need of support. In secondary schools, Hana utilized documentary films to educate students on the effects of drugs and facilitated discussion sessions with the youth.
Hana’s participation in the Youth Forum (March 2023) provided her with the opportunity to interact with peers from other countries to learn on what each country is doing to prevent drug use, spread awareness, reduce stigma, as well as what the youth participants want to do differently or to add to existing efforts. “We also discussed how important it is to have evidence-based prevention for youth that is done with youth, and for the youth to speak up and talk about what’s right. After all, we are the change we want to see in the world!”
Hana returned to her country after attending the Youth Forum in Vienna invigorated with new knowledge and inspiration, and continued to actively contribute at FDCTA to spread awareness of the importance and value of aspiring for healthy lives to various age groups. Using creative games, activities, and storybooks, she outreached to children, students, as well as their families. She supported the facilitation of open discussions, where parents were informed about the benefits of early prevention and the importance of good mental well-being of children in building resilience to drug use.
As seen with Hana’s journey, there are many different ways of contributing to the community regardless of one’s age or background, and working alongside local organisations, contributing to awareness-raising initiatives, and incorporating youth perspective and needs in decision-making spaces can be examples of such activities. Let us remember that change begins with one’s motivation, and young people, when equipped with the skills and tools, can meaningfully contribute to a cause with their determination and will to bring about positive change.