What happens when the man who started Youth Media in the Philippines meets the United Nations’ Ambassador for Youth? Nothing but a fun, yet meaningful and inspiring conversation that will open doors to endless possibilities for the young members of our society.
Pocholo “The VoiceMaster” Gonzales, founder of Voice of the Youth Network, had a chance to do a very exclusive interview with the United Nations’ Secretary-General Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi on August 13, 2015. Alhendawi visited the Philippines to attend the International Youth Day celebration organized by the National Youth Commission on August 12.
In this half-hour interview, Alhendawi explained his role as the UN’s Envoy on Youth. “With half of the world’s population being under 25 years old, and 90% of those living in developing countries being youth, it is fitting for the United Nations to prioritize the youth and give them a voice in the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the UN,” said Alhendawi. His role as an Envoy is to bridge the youth sector to the United Nations and remind them that the youth issues – such as employment opportunities, accessible healthcare and protection of youth rights – are urgent issues that “need to be addressed YESTERDAY.”
The Envoy was then treated to a few seconds of entertainment with the VoiceMaster showcasing his voice acting skills by doing many different cartoon character voices, which earned a huge applause from Alhendawi.
As the founder of the lone youth media in the country, the VoiceMaster also asked about the Envoy’s plan for information dissemination, to which Alhendawi explained that one of their goals is to engage member states, private sectors, academic institutions, media and civil society, and youth-led organizations in UN’s programs for the youth. Social media and the internet remains to be the forefront of their distribution channel since that’s where most of the young people are. At this point, Alhendawi recognized the VoiceMaster’s work with the Voice of the Youth Network. “We need more people like you (VoiceMaster),” said Alhendawi. He explained that in a generation where attention span is short, where the youth will only spare 30 seconds or one or two chances to for you to catch their attention before they turn to their smartphones, the world needs leaders like Pocholo that not only has the talent to captivate an audience, but also have the heart and passion for giving opportunities for the youth to be heard.
Alhendawi also beautifully emphasized UN’s mantra to “leave no one behind.” “We’re not only referring to not leaving the marginalized sector, which of course, we also do not want to. But leaving no one behind is more of involving everyone in the creation and participation in achieving the sustainable development goals, like alleviating all forms of poverty by year 2030.”
As for his final message, Alhendawi challenged the youth to not wait for UN or anyone before they become part of achieving the development goals. “Invite yourself, don’t wait for the UN to come to you. It’s not about changing everything in the world. It’s about DOING SOMETHING that would eventually change the world.”