Council to empower youths in five Pacific Island countries

Seventeen-year-old Hayli Lucas hopes to help rural students access resources and opportunities that are available to youths living in urban areas.

The Suva Christian Community High School student is one of 20 youths inducted into the newly formed US Embassy Youth Council aimed to empower youths of the five countries covered by the Suva-based consulate including Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu. Lucas is the youngest member of the council.

“Basically we already have women’s rights but through the council, I would like other kids to have equal opportunities. They have so much potential which they are unable to reach, just because they are either not fully driven or exposed to such opportunities,” Lucas said.

“I realised I can do so much at my young age and there is more that I can do. There’s so much we can do as youths. It is like we’re given a blank canvas and we’re going to paint a beautiful picture .”

Hayli Lucas

University of the South Pacific (USP) student Kartik Nand feels the same way, and believes civil society engagement is also important for youths.

 “There is a lot of diverse members in the council and I am looking forward to connect with more people,” Nand said.

USP commerce undergraduate Bulou Suguta said she is honoured to be part of an inaugural grouping and looks forward to providing her expertise in advancing youths’ economic development.

“The reason I joined is to engage more with youth development especially when it comes to economic prospects relating to youths and the program I want to focus on is volunteerism, entrepreneurship and sports,” Suguta said.

“I am looking forward to youth engagement, community outreach and working with government organisations as well as the Embassy’s upcoming programs. So sharing our ideas and prospects about how we can push youth engagement during such unprecedented times will also help contribute to the sustainable development goals,” the economics and finance student added.”

Opening the council’s first meeting at the embassy office in Tamavua last Friday, US Ambassador Joseph Cella said the council will serve as link between the Suva embassy and youths of the countries they oversee and sets the stage to forge partnerships and strategic collaborations with the five governments. He also commended the ongoing youth advocacy under Fiji’s Ministry of Youth and Sports. 

The embassy launched this initiative to effect youth engagement, promote inclusivity and vibrant civil society, strengthen youth leadership, enhance community service activities and create space to build robust partnership between countries. 

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