Since 2017, I have been working on two themes that are close to my heart: youth and the youth domain, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In recent years, I have seen the complex issues that organisations and professionals in these fields are struggling with: decentralization of youth care, prevention of radicalisation and extremism, high youth unemployment in the MENA region, and (active) participation of youth in political decision-making.
At the same time, I see an impressive amount of collective knowledge and experience in these fields, and an infinite imagination about how things can be done differently. I am convinced that this enables us to find new answers to these issues and to initiate change.
As a research consultant and editor, I contribute to this by collecting and bringing together (practical) knowledge and experience. I often do that through interviews, desk research and group discussions. It helps that I speak the language – not only the language of the youth sector but also Arabic. From the collected knowledge and experience, I unravel patterns and insights. I then translate these into practical tools or advice, often in the form of reports, stories, articles and fact sheets – and sometimes a podcast.
Examples of what I do
Last December, it was ten years since Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, which sparked a series of revolutions across the MENA region. Looking back at the developments in the last decade, it might be tempting to take stock of the current situation and to conclude that the ‘Arab Spring’ has failed. But it would be unfair and unwise to do so.
Children, young people and parents with complex problems are not always well served by youth care services. What can we learn from their stories and from the experiences of professionals? And how can we improve the care and assistance provided to other children and families?
Even for a complex issue like countering radicalisation, professionals can learn from experiences in other cities and regions. A national team of ‘zorg- en veiligheidshuizen’ wanted to collect the available expertise and make it applicable in practice, in order to help improve the approach in all regions.