Leading for Transformation Convening in Thailand

By Wanwarin (Nina) Yensuk | May 26, 2023 | Asia | Education, Youth Empowerment

Wanwarin (Nina) Yensuk, GFC’s Thailand Partnerships Catalyst, reports on the first in-person convening of the Fostering Youth Leadership in Thailand initiative.

“Thank you, GFC, for bringing us together.” – Amao Pongpanawan, Director, Ethnic People Development Foundation.

In late February 2023, Global Fund for Children hosted its first in-person convening for the Fostering Youth Leadership in Thailand initiative. Supported by the Algot Enevoldsen Foundation, this three-year initiative seeks to foster youth leadership in local organizations’ governance and programming, elevate youth voices in their communities, and empower community-based organizations to create sustainable change.

Our partners in the initiative focus on issue areas such as sexual and reproductive health, human trafficking, and gender equality, and they work with a number of different populations, including stateless and undocumented children and youth, Myanmar migrants, ethnic communities, and teenage parents.

Held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the convening brought together staff from the seven current GFC partners in the initiative, GFC partners Creative Life Foundation and One Sky Foundation, and the Algot Enevoldsen Foundation and its partners. This was an exciting opportunity for all participants to get to know each other and share how they work with youth and children in Thailand.

Participants engaged in an activity at the Thailand convening.

Partners taking part in a group activity at the convening held in Thailand. © GFC

The name of the convening was “Leading for Transformation,” with a focus on shifting power in the development sector. For several participants, it was the first time they had discussed the concept and complexities of power. Some remarked that now they understand that changes need to start within themselves and their organizations and that adaptability is essential in development work. As a result, they intend to reevaluate their plans and make adjustments within their organizations.

The dynamics of power were further explored by a panel of GFC team members. Rodrigo Barraza, Regional Co-Director, Americas; Emmy Zoomlamai Okello, a member of the Partner Advisory Group; and Saru Khadka, a member of the Youth Leadership Council, spoke about their experiences with shifting power.

Rodrigo emphasized the importance of being willing to learn and of prioritizing wellness within the team when shifting power. This resonated with the participants, and when they shared challenges they faced, the conversation led to discussions about self-care and wellbeing.

Participants seated and listening to a virtual speaker displayed on screen.

GFC's Rodrigo Barraza speaking to the participants at the convening, virtually. © GFC

Most of the partner staff expressed that they feel burned out or feel as though there are never enough resources, including time, money, and people, to complete the work that should be done. Some carry their work home and suffer from secondhand trauma. To support these partners, GFC plans to create a space where participants can talk about wellbeing and to hold a workshop on self-care and wellbeing.

This was the first time that we hosted a convening in English with Thai interpretation, with the goal of increasing language access and strengthening partner participation. The partners told us the interpretation enabled them to learn about new topics and connect with people from other organizations who speak a different language. We encountered a few challenges with this approach, as some terms or phrases were difficult to express in Thai. As we work toward aligning our terminology with the culture and context of our partners, we plan to ensure that future interpreters and participants have a common understanding of specialized terms and concepts prior to the start of a convening.

By the end of the Leading for Transformation convening, all the participants had connected with each other and were eager to continue their conversations beyond the meeting. There were suggestions to create a space where people could talk about power and stay connected to the group.

Participant display their drawings from an activity at the convening.

Participants display their drawings from an activity during the convening. © GFC

“The convening helps us know and understand other organizations’ work more,” one participant noted. “It creates new partnerships and a network of organizations that work with children, and it might lead to new collaboration in the future.”

As the members of the Fostering Youth Leadership in Thailand initiative resumed their work in their communities, they did so with a new lens through which to view their interactions with donors and community members, and with budding relationships and connections to rely on for support.

Header image: GFC staff and partners at the convening in Thailand. © GFC

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