Speeches Shim

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Ardit Aliaj on of the Up to Youth activists
Global Communities for USAID Kosovo

A young man from the municipality of Gjakovë/Đakovica in western Kosovo raised the bar when he initiated food assistance to members of his community.  This past spring, Ardit heard from a friend that a family in their community was in need of food assistance due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and he knew he had to help.  At the start, all he had was volunteer experience, a little bit of money, a couple of supportive friends, and a strong desire to help those in need.

“The very first family that we helped was a relative of a friend of mine.  But shortly after that, we contacted and cooperated with local NGOs to make a list of genuine beneficiaries,” Ardit explained.

Ardit soon identified and assisted, with food and transportation, another 10 families in his community.  After a few days of distributing aid to needy families, more people joined in his efforts.  A private company also began donating goods and more of Ardit’s friends started supporting his initiative.  The efforts of Ardit and his friends have led to 20 families receiving assistance.

“The assistance we provided for needy families was pretty basic.  We delivered essential food items and sometimes provided transportation for the elderly, but it meant a lot to them.  And that gave me a great feeling.  By helping my community, I felt like a million dollars.” 

Youth-led non-formal initiatives can vary from assisting with the essential needs of their local community to larger regional network initiatives.  No matter how big or small the initiative is, they all have one thing in common:  youth who are willing to take action and lead others.  Actions like Ardit’s not only allow youth to take on important responsibilities, but also allow communities to benefit from the unique talents, viewpoints, energy, and creativity of youth.  In addition, youth are left with a good feeling of having made a real impact in people’s lives and having contributed meaningfully to their communities.

Ardit Alijaj joined Up to Youth’s cohort in the Gjakovë/Đakovica municipality this year.  The USAID Up to Youth Activity focuses on mobilizing and engaging youth in meaningful ways to effect positive change in their communities.