Windhoek-Maria Sheya, a Namibian Masters degree student in Public Policy, majoring in Regional Development and Environmental Policy at the Korea Development Institute of Public Policy and Management in South Korea, became the first Namibian to represent the country at the Saemaul Undong (SMU) training programme for young global leaders in Korea over the weekend.
SMU is a driving force behind Korea’s rapid economic growth but the youth programme this year involved a Namibian delegate to bring in new ideas, and also to share her experiences from her country (Namibia). The conference aimed at addressing poverty in rural communities worldwide.
It particularly reinforced villagers’ capacity through their active participation to produce innovations. The movement was also introduced to overcome economic difficulties and develop rural areas, playing a key role in reducing poverty, based on the spirit of diligence, self-help and cooperation.
Sheya says she has learned that SMU is a best practice of foreign assistance today, and this experience of the Korean people in this process is a valuable asset for humankind in the world.
“Namibia can gradually learn from this given that many women were excluded from decision making at home and village in Korea, but they became leaders in the movement whereby they overcome hardships, resolves their village problems,” adding that the rural creative economy model is the answer rural problems, especially given that men and women can stand together and work towards the development of their own environmental community.
Cooperation between the government and villagers is highly needed to promote openness and tolerance of villagers.
“I believe the most hampering elements to overcome the incoming of urban young migrants are; villager’s antagonism and closeness to incoming migrants. Secondly, poor infrastructure for daily lives and government should improve on infrastructure such as education, health and culture in rural areas,” says Sheya.
SMU training programme is also an intensive training programme to share Korea’s development experiences with young global leaders in different countries. To date, 60,000 foreign Saemaul leaders and government officials from 147 countries have been trained and are now serving as community leaders having developed their neighbourhoods based on what they took home from the training programme.
It mainly consists of lectures, field trips, group discussions and action plan. The training was conducted from November 9-11 at Saemaul-ro, Seongnam City, in the Republic of South Korea and was officially opened by Jin Kwang, the president of Saemaul Undong Centre.
Sheya also learned that the campaign helps developing countries increase their abilities to escape poverty through their own efforts and with the support of the community based on self-help mechanisms. This builds a foundation for sustainable development based on the problems particular to the different countries.
The goal for young leaders during this conference is to contribute to building welfare nations through diligence, self-help and cooperation, as well as to train young leaders into developing Saemaul Undong leaders for future changes in their respective countries.