Today, at the last day of the World Forum for Democracy, we talked to David Riveros García, president and founder of the Paraguayan organization Reacción Juvenil de Cambio, founded in 2010 by him and a group of fellow university students. The non–profit and non-governmental organization has the mission to “empower youth in order to fight against corruption” as David explains. In a country with a lot of corruption awareness must be risen among youth, because the “next generation is educated by corruptive people”. That means promotion of adequate information, transparency and the importance of these issues among Paraguayan youth is crucial.
Civic literacy as major issue affecting Paraguayan youth
Very important for youth in Paraguay is civil literacy, a topic which is not mentioned a lot. Currently, the educational system does not promote civic literacy enough. Therefore, David´s NGO tackles this issue in combination with anti corruption. On the one hand, there is investment into education facilities, on the other hand, there is a lack of “basic, fundamental knowledge about what it means to be a citizen, how to participate in democracy and without that knowledge, without that participation in democracy national conscience is needed from an upstanding society”.
New laws in Paraguay – hope for change?
It is not that there is no information available at all for citizens in Paraguay, but the question is whether it is understandable and processable for citizens. Recently two new laws in Paraguay were passed for greater information access and transparency promotion. David says that Paraguay was “very late compared to the rest of the world in doing that” and still, the problem is that if information is only available in a language not understandable for citizens and not precisely formulated it is questionable whether people are capable of understanding the information provided: “It means nothing of engagement if people cannot understand it.”
Challenges and successes
A challenge for an NGO like Reacción Juvenil de Cambio is the fact that it empowers youth in the fight against corruption in a corruptive setting. Therefore well thought strategies are needed, otherwise the government can create bad publicity of the NGO. Nevertheless, David and his NGO have support from different sides: For six months now Reacción Juvenil de Cambio worked together with Transparency International. Also collaboration with the World Bank exists, ensuring that the NGO can sustain due to small funds for certain projects. Despite that, everyone involved in this organization is a volunteer without any form of payment. Asking David how he evaluates the success of his organization he states that the fact that it exists now for four years already only based on volunteers is a great success itself. And also we think that Reacción Juvenil de Cambio, being present at the World Forum for Democracy 2014, shows that youth really has the chance to revitalize democracy.
[photo source: facebook page Reacción Juvenil de Cambio]