(UNFPA) 21 May 2014 — “Y-Peer saved my life. For that, I am so thankful,” says Oyuka,* recalling a time when she contemplated suicide. That was before Enkhbat, an educator with the youth peer education programme Y-Peer, reached out to her and saved her life.
In Mongolia, like in many places around the world, adolescence can be a challenging and isolating time. Confronted with fast-paced economic and social changes, many young people are leaving their families behind and moving to cities to pursue their education and find jobs.
In an effort to help address some of the challenges they face, UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, is supporting youth-to-youth initiatives like Y-Peer to reach out to the most vulnerable and marginalized youth. Y-Peer educators – young people trained in outreach and counselling – go out into communities to provide support to fellow youth, not only helping to educate them on various issues related to their well-being, but sometimes also saving lives.
With support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UNFPA initiated an innovative Y-Peer campaign, New Friends, in 2013.
The campaign encourages Y-Peers to reach out to young people who may be lonely, struggling with classmates, dropping out of school or marginalized in any other way, to build lasting relationships and improve their lives within their communities.
While rural families usually have access to middle school, students of high school age often have to relocate to provincial centres if they want to pursue their education.
In this context, networks like Y-Peer offer invaluable support as these youth face daily challenges and responsibilities far away from their families and communities at a particularly vulnerable age
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