Lydia Mathai, 24, is passionate about issues affecting the youth, particularly on governance and policy making. She tells Njoki Chege what being the communications officer of The Youth Agenda involves
Where did you study?
I studied at Loreto Secondary School, Kiambu for my high school, where I scored an A-minus in KCSE. I later went to the University of Nairobi to study political science and communication and graduated in 2009.
Have you always wanted to work in the NGO world?
Actually, No. I always wanted to go corporate. I saw myself working in a big corporate firm, but God had other plans for me. However, when the opportunity to work with Youth Agenda came, I took it and found myself getting absorbed as it began to grow on me. I have never looked back since then.
When did you start working for Youth Agenda?
I began in November 2009 as a volunteer and programme assistant. I later rose to become the consultant communications officer and in February this year, I was confirmed as the communications officer.
What does your job entail?
Basically communicating the youth agenda to the world. I am involved in generating information about the youth and disseminating it to the youth and other interested parties all over the country. Through the many programmes we have at Youth Agenda, we are able to get the attention of policy makers and other parties and to create forums for the youth to be heard. We also use the information from our programmes for policy advocacy, which is ensuring that policies favouring the youth are enacted.
What are some of the programmes you have for the youth?
We have many, for instance, prior to the new constitutional dispensation, we held meetings with the youth through the âStudent speakâ programme where we got them to talk about what the youth would like to see in the new constitution. We presented a memorandum to the Committee of Experts with the recommendations of the youth, which were taken into consideration during the process of making the new constitution. We also have the âAdvocate for value leadershipâ programme which entails profiling value driven leadership and presenting them to Kenyans. Through this programme, we hope to raise a crop of people-centred leaders who will drive this country forward. Others include the high school cohesion and tolerance programme, where we hope to inculcate values of tolerance and cohesion among high school students in preparation for adult life.
What do you love most about your job?
Practically everything! The fact that I am actually doing what I studied gives me joy. I love the fact that my job gives me the opportunity to engage in policy making for the youth. I am glad I am involved in fighting for the space of the youth in Kenya, and I like the fact that I do believe in what I am advocating for. I am also grateful for my boss, Susan Kariuki, who has given me time and space to spread my wings and grow.