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In July 2023, 13 SERVE volunteers travelled to Beira, Mozambique, to live and work in Young Africa for 4 weeks. Towards the end of our time there, having worked alongside the students and staff who make YA tick, we decided to paint a mural on the campus. Our goal was to inspire the students, to educate about them about the sustainable development goals, and to represent the students themselves and their journey in YA in our mural.
How We Did It
The blog below is written by SERVE volunteers of the Overseas Programme (2023).
In Mozambique, SERVE partners with Young Africa to enhance the lives of vulnerable young people. Young Africa Beira is a Technical and Vocational Education and Training centre (TVET centre). Students are trained across a variety of different vocations, including carpentry, beauty therapy, construction, culinary skills, and many others. Life skills training is also incorporated into the student’s learning, with classes in entrepreneurship, IT skills, and English. Students also have access to health services and a careers service that helps them to find employment when they complete their studies.
SERVE have sent volunteers to YA Mozambique almost every year since 2008. This year’s group were the first since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The volunteers spent the month of July living in the YA campus, working alongside the students and staff of YA on several projects. Through our work we had the chance to get to know the students and staff on a personal level, to learn about their journeys, their motivations, and what Young Africa means to them.
After a couple of weeks, we started to discuss the mural and what we wanted it to portray. We wanted it to inspire and empower the students on their journey.
We all worked together on coming up with the mural content and design. As the mural was to be centred around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we first talked about which goals we felt were most synonymous with YA Beira and the work that goes on there. We decided on SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being, and SDG 4: Quality Education. We felt these goals would resonate the most with the YA students.
We started with group brainstorming sessions, sketching ideas that would represent these SDGs in a visually engaging manner. We also talked about the central design of the mural and decided that we would have a tree as the backdrop. At either end of the tree there is a person watering it, representing the teachers and staff of YA. Just as water is essential for the tree’s growth, the knowledge and guidance provided by the teachers are essential for the student’s development.
We decided to include symbols to do with our chosen SDGs in the mural. The symbols surround the branches of the tree and show specific areas of focus for each goal. From our brainstorming sessions we had a bank of symbols to select from. We then planned out the mural based on the central design, how much space we had to work with and what we felt was most important to include. We did this on paper before we got to work on the actual mural.
The mural is on the front wall of the assembly hall in the middle of the YA campus. This is where the students gather in the morning for assembly, where they hear words of wisdom from some of their teachers and pray together before classes begin. There is a raised platform in the middle of this wall, so we split our mural into two halves, each side representing one of our chosen SDGs. We started with a base layer of green in the background, before sketching and painting the tree and its branches, the YA staff and their watering cans, and finally the symbols representing the SDG targets. One of the staff members is wearing a nurse’s uniform, showcasing the work of the healthcare staff in YA. The other is wearing a blue and yellow YA uniform, donned by students and staff in some of the departments. We felt this was an important inclusion as it would mean the students see themselves represented on the mural.
We were very happy with the finished mural. We hope it will inspire the students on their journey in YA and beyond.
The goals we chose to focus on were:
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 4: Quality Education
We included symbols that represent specific targets within these goals. For instance, for SDG 3, we have symbols representing:
- Reduce maternal mortality
- Universal access to sexual and reproductive care, family planning and education
- Treating substance abuse
- Increase health financing and support health workforce in developing countries
And for SDG 4, the symbols represent the following targets:
- Increase the supply of quailified teachers in developing countries
- Equal access to pre-primary education
- Equal access to affordable technical, vocational and higher education
- Increase the number of people with relevant skills for financial success
We felt that the work being done in YA by both students and staff directly contributes to the realisation of all of these goals.
We also included a symbol representing partnerships for the goals, as well as the SERVE symbol, the Irish Aid symbol, the SDG symbol, the YA symbol, and symbols representing other organisations who contribute to the projects going on at Young Africa Beira. We felt this an important inclusion as it highlights the unity needed in making a meaningful difference. We met many people from different backgrounds and organisations while in Young Africa, each working towards the common goal of improving the lives of the young people who go there. It was truly inspiring and something we felt was important to represent in our mural.
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