There are 1.8 billion people living in this world, and each of them has a voice. We hear their voices every day, but can we understand them? Can we understand their needs, ambitions and desires? And if we do, how do we help them?

The world is changing with enormous speed and the needs of young people are growing. The One million voices research is not only about hearing young people voices, it is also about understanding the needs of young people all around the globe. The One million voices research was conducted by World YMCA, with the help of all national and local YMCA’s. It is believed to be the largest research conducted in the world about the needs of young people. It is a rare occasion in history, where young people from almost all parts of the world are questioned about what they want, need and how YMCA can help them accomplish their desires! After all the questionnaires were filled out they were handed to the World YMCA and the final report was made.


Before I enlist those similarities I will give some basic information about the research:
The research was accomplished in 55 countries. The average of all surveyed young people, was 19 years old, 2/3 of them are connected to YMCA, ½ of them are still in school and 40% have secondary education, ¾ of them live in cities, 60% identify themselves as Christians, 77% are struggling to find and keep a job, 98% are single, 95% possess a mobile phone, 30% of the surveyed youth are using internet over 11 hours a week and 85% believe that YMCA is seriously contributing towards the empowerment of young people.

One of the areas that triggered almost no interest in young people was politics, in fact that is the only reason why occasionally they turned the TV on. All young people in the world who were questioned mostly care about four main areas: Employment, Health, Human Rights and Environment. Many young people would like to know how they could find a job and manage to keep the job. Because of the world economic crisis, finding and keeping a job are very popular issues. Human Rights, is a topic of great importance to young people, but they feel to be insufficiently informed about the topic. Mental Health and Sexual and reproductive health were considered a taboo topic in recent past, although that is no longer the case, educational systems lack of programs and information regarding these two topics. This is considered issues since both of the topics are of great importance to young people.  Many of them would like to know more about HIV and how to stop the spreading of this particular disease, to learn about drugs and alcohol abuse. 22% would really like to stop smoking (easier said than done). Global warming a myth? Well young people all around the world do not think so. They are worried about saving the environment before there is not anything left to save. It shows a great deal of selflessness, because they care about the future generations inhabiting the Earth. Some of the other topics that young people care about are: Nutrition (44%), body image and self-esteem, teen pregnancy. The needs of young people, no matter whether are similar, or diverse have to be met.


In Macedonia, our national YMCA Macedonia and the two local YMCA’s in Bitola and in Skopje conducted the surveys. With the help of our National General Secretary – Viktor Iliev, and our Peace Corps volunteer – Cindy Sorensen, we proudly contributed to the global research and presented the voices and needs of our young people. The research reached more than 300 people. It was a pleasant surprise to notice that all those who were questioned, were eager to learn more about different topics, however what was quite sad for me was that not many of them were in any way included, or active in non-governmental organizations, or do a lot of extracurricular activities. The common problem for all of them was employment. Young people are very worried that despite finishing university they will have a lot of difficulties and it will take a lot of time to find employment. The second biggest issue was Sexual and reproductive health. It is reasonable to be worried about something that you lack information, especially since it is not included in the general educational system. The third and largest problem was the lack of knowledge about Human Rights. Programs and training about the rights of young people are offered by some organizations, but they have to know the right place to look for them.

“One million voices” is more than a research; it is an echo of voices shouting throughout the world for help. Now is our time to help them! Soon in Bitola there will be presentation of the results. Join YMCA!

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