In communities where violence and poverty are the norm, children and youth are often the ones most impacted by the problems in their communities. Many end up dropping out of school, get recruited by gangs in their community, or start engaging in violent behavior.
AJS offers a safe space for these young people to grow through service-learning, leadership-building activities, and the teaching of values like responsibility, community, and peacemaking. Every week, over 350 youth participate in group meetings, in addition to having access to a community mentor. We also work with their families to provide psychological and legal support, especially focusing on helping families develop healthy ways to love each other and to discipline without resorting to violence.
These programs are transforming individual lives and family units, while also encouraging youth to see themselves as agents of change for their community. This program helps youth dream for a brighter future and gives them the support to achieve their dreams. As one participant said, “I’m doing things I never thought I’d achieve, that I would never have dreamed about. The clubs help us to be better. They change lives.” Beyond just personal transformation, the program seeks community transformation by facilitating service projects and advocacy campaigns. We even have 75 young people who work as community auditors, evaluating their local schools and health centers to advocate for quality services.