In 2011, as part of the Global Youth Work in Action project we worked with MADE in Europe, a global learning charity for young Muslim people, to explore the global food system with young people from inner city London.
Oussama speaking at our annual Global Youth Work event, Rolling Globe
We spoke with the lead youth worker of the project, Oussama Mezoui, to get his thoughts and reflections of their ‘Eat of The Good Things’ project and the use of Global Youth Work as a tool to work with marginalised young people.
“Eat of the good things was all about trying to connect young people from inner city London to concepts of agriculture, understanding ethical consumption and the global food cycle. The project had two dimensions. The first was workshop based learning about the way we consume food and about global agriculture. This got them to think about consumption in a way they hadn’t before. The second was hands on, getting their hands dirty and working on a patch in Spitafields Garden farm to grow food.”
Oussama recalls for some young people the project was the first time they experienced working in a green space and seeing how food is made, “These young people were all from inner city London, Tower Hamlets, which I think is has some of the worst statistics in the country for child poverty. So it was a challenge to begin talking about land grabs and global food production because they couldn’t relate. But to make the link between the UK and agricultural countries in the Global South, they grew crops in a city farm to see the hard work required and that this happens across the world. Now they think about where food comes from. I know personally that the young people involved still consume more ethically as a result of the project.
“Seeing their development of the young during the project made it all worthwhile. For some in particular it’s really had a massive impact on their lives. This was the first extracurricular, Global Youth Work project they had done. These guys were Londoners, born and bred and this exposure to agriculture and the global food cycle really changed their outlook and world view”
Young people from the ‘Eat of The Good Things’ project visit Spitalfields city farm to learn more about food production and ethical consumption.
Asked about what benefits the project gave him, Oussama recalls the project being influential in MADE’s own campaigning; “The Y Care International project triggered our campaign on ethnical consumption. We continued that work because the project showed us there was a need in the Muslim community to learn more about ethical consumption. Along with Zaytoun, we launched our campaign ‘Fair trade in Islam’ and printed over 10,000 leaflets, shared ethical Ramadan meals and held talks in Mosques and schools assemblies. Y Care International enabled us to kick start that campaign and that was a definite positive.”
Oussama is looking to continue using Global Youth Work to keep engaging young people in global issues. “Our objectives haven’t changed. We still work with young people within BME communities and we still want them to lobby, campaign, become activists on global issues.”