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From left to right: Speakers Mr. Daniel Oscar Baskoro, Ms. Yurdhina Meilissa and Ms. Karina Salim are hosted by UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel member Ms. Anindya Nastiti Restuviani in a discussion at the UNFPA event ‘Youth Blast: Young Leaders Driving Social Change’, at the JS Luwansa Hotel Jakarta on 28 November 2014.


At the age of 25, Yurdhina Meilissa, better known to her friends as Icha, quit her job as a clinical doctor in Jakarta and took off to a remote district in Central Sulawesi to serve in a community health care centre for a year. The experience there changed her life.


In the village of Ogotua in North Dampal district, Icha saw firsthand the disparity between health facilities in the capital and those in the further reaches of the archipelago. She saw the need for basic health information and services, from a lack of knowledge about personal hygiene and sanitation, to a lack of access to services due to poor infrastructure and understaffing.


On return to Jakarta, Icha had to explain to her mother her decision to leave a comfortable career in clinical practice, which she had trained so long for, to dedicate her life to public health.


“Privileged young people must become a bridge for the rest,” she said of her decision.


Icha’s story was just one of the inspiring messages presented at “Youth Blast: Young Leaders Driving Social Change”, an event hosted by UNFPA Indonesia at the JS Luwansa Hotel Jakarta on 28 November 2014.


The youth-friendly event was attended by about 150 young students, professionals, artists and social activists, who gathered to hear the stories of high-achieving young leaders who are making a difference in Indonesia.


Icha and the other inspiring speakers at the “Youth Blast” are featured in a new UNFPA publication that was launched at the event, titled “Investing in Young People in Indonesia: Inspirational Young Leaders Driving Social Change”. The full-colour book profiles 21 young leaders driving social change in Indonesia in the areas of health, education, technology, tourism, politics, performing arts and more.


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Ms. Khairani Barokka, poet and inclusive arts advocate, shares her story about presenting a spoken word performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014.


Aside from Icha, participants at the event also heard from Loveria Sekarrini, a midwife and public advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights; Khairani Barokka, a writer, poet and inclusive arts advocate; and the adventurous couple Aria Angga Dwipa and Intan Anggita, who started up a website on exploring Indonesia’s eastern islands.


Stories were also shared in an open discussion with Karina Salim, an actress who starred in Indonesia’s first film to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival; and Daniel Oscar Baskoro, who helped create an award-winning application for disaster mitigation using Google Glass.


Participants were invited to join in discussion with the profiled speakers, and join the online conversation on Twitter via a feed that was projected at the front of the stage, and constantly updated throughout the event.


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The Youth Blast event was moderated by two members of the UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel, Mr. Faqih Aulia Akbar Rasyid and Ms. Faza Fairuza Az-Zahra.


The crowd enjoyed music performances by CATS vocal group from Universitas Indonesia, and local band Nice Friday. Pop singer Vidi Aldiano also shared a preview of his latest single, via a fundraising video that he made for World AIDS Day.


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Young Indonesian singer Mr. Vidi Aldiano introduced his initiative on HIV/AIDS  at the Youth Blast event in Jakarta.


The event was part of the “Youth Blast” series hosted by UNFPA Indonesia, and followed the formal launch of the State of World Population (SWOP) report for 2014, which was held in the same venue earlier in the day. The afternoon event was organised and hosted almost entirely by young people, including UNFPA’s Youth Advocate Mr. Angga Dwi Martha, and members of the UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel, or YAP.


In his closing remarks, Representative Mr. Jose Ferraris pledged UNFPA’s support to helping all of Indonesia’s 65 million young people to achieve their rights and fulfill their potential. Citing analysis from the SWOP report, he said that fulfilling young people’s rights and potential, as well as involving them in the development process, is an investment that can return a demographic dividend for Indonesia in the years to come.


“With the right investment, Indonesia’s young people – including all of the young leaders here in the room today – will have the power to transform the future,” he told the young audience. “My challenge to you is to make that happen, not only in your own lives, but for your whole generation, and the generations that will follow you.”


With the stories of Icha and her peers now widely available in the new UNFPA publication on young people, it is hoped that more young Indonesians will be inspired to demand their rights and fulfill their potential, and support others in their generation to do the same.