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YE-Empowering Rural Youth Through Renewable Energy
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Tingvoll is a small community in rural Norway that is struggling to keep its young people and is experiencing a loss of workplaces. In an effort to reverse outmigration and an aging population it has received funding to implement a revitalization project in which youth engagement and cooperation between a research center for organic agriculture and renewable energy are among the objectives. One measure to increase youth engagement is for the youth council of Tingvoll (YCT) to plan an international exchange project in which renewable energy and cross-cultural engagement are the focus. The hope is that this will become an annual activity that will contribute to making Tingvoll more attractive for youth. The coordinator of YCT and contact person for ERYTRE, Joshua Cabell, also works at the Solar and Bioenergy Center (SBC), which is a part of a research center for organic agriculture and renewable energy located in Tingvoll. He is also collaborating with Lamia Bazir and her organization Empowering Women of the Atlas (EWA) in planning a community-owned bathhouse ("hammam" in Arabic) to be built in a rural Moroccan village called Adghagh. Joshua lived in this village for two years as a development volunteer and from his personal experience living in the village, where firewood is in short supply and deforestation is a pressing issue, recommended integrating a solar hot water system on the roof the hammam as a solution to these challenges. Through his involvement in both the hammam and revitalization projects he was asked to combine the two into an international youth exchange. The objective of ERYTRE is to empower youth from two rural areas to change their futures through engagement in an international cooperation focused on renewable energy. Among other activities, they will participate in a workshop on installing solar hot water heaters. Using these new practical skills they will install a hot water system on the roof of the hammam in Adghagh, giving local residents access to much needed sanitation, the women a source of income, and the participants new job skills for the future. At the same time, participants from both countries will gain knowledge about each other’s cultures and values, daily life, and renewable energy; they will learn new skills in cross-cultural communication, and language. There will be ten participants between the ages of thirteen to eighteen from each country. In addition each group will have two facilitators/group leaders who will assist with translating and facilitating activities and the host country will have two additional adults to assist with coordinating activities. There will also be a need for professionals to teach the solar energy workshop and to help carry out the installation of the hot water system. Every effort will be made to ensure there is gender balance, though the reality is that may be difficult for participants from Morocco where gender roles are more traditional and parents are less willing to allow girls to travel. Participants from both countries live in rural communities and have limited access to services and there fore benefit greatly from an international exchange. The participants from Morocco come from a disadvantaged background which makes their participation more challenging due to economic, social, geographical, and cultural circumstances. There are two main activities planned. The first is for the youth from Morocco to visit Norway during which they will participate in team-building exercises, getting-to-know-you games, visit classrooms at the three local schools, participate in preparing meals and organizing evening activities with music and sports, visit a traditional summer farm in the mountains, take a two-day course on solar thermal systems, and sleeping over at a summer camp facility where they can fish, canoe, have a bonfire, and swim. In addition, local elections are taking place during the visit and will be used as an opportunity to discuss the Norwegian political system. The emphasis is on non-formal learning methods combined with practical hands-on learning in connection with the solar energy workshop. The second activity entails the youth from Norway traveling to Morocco where they will engage in similar activities as in Norway but with the main focus being the installation of the solar hot water system on the hammam. Both groups will sleep at the youth center in Ifrane, located ten kilometers from Adghagh, and learn about Moroccan culture, food, music, and traditions. The outcome of the second activity will be a model hammam that reduces deforestation and improves air quality at the same time it provides much needed sanitation for residents and income for women. Both groups of youth will gain a new understanding of, and hopefully openness to, other perspectives and worldviews as well as an appreciation for what they have at home.

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