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Lavinia is fearlessly campaigning for change

In just a few months, Lavinia has overcome her fears and is taking action with her peers in Italy, to fight for the future they want.

At just 18, Lavinia is a remarkable campaigner, changing the world around her and bringing others aboard her campaign bus. We can all learn from her drive and commitment.

I have a dream

Lavinia was born in Sicily and now lives in Tuscany, Italy. She had a strong interest in issues of human rights and sustainable development but was afraid to do anything about them because: “I felt I was not enough informed. But then,” she continues, “there was my dream: to help bring change by using arts and connecting artists and artisans.” The dream drove her forward.

Walking the global walk

It all started with Walk the Global Walk, Oxfam’s active citizenship project in schools. As if by magic, with the commitment and determination of all, a virtuous circle was initiated. The town Mayor supported the environmental sustainability actions her class co-designed and realized, for students and the wider community to take. Local artists worked on upcycling throwaway materials, and citizens got involved in the flash mob to raise awareness about recycling.

Brave activists for a cause

Many people are horrified by the word "change", but Lavinia has shown that you shouldn’t be afraid to take action, and it can bring unexpected benefits. She has learned organisational skills, met influential people and shared her ideas. Becoming activists made all the students feel more responsible, that they could really change things. “And we did it!” Lavinia exclaims. People may judge her because she’s young, but she has an answer for that: “I say ‘Here are the facts, these are my values, and I believe that you should join us too.’ Then I leave the door for dialogue open.”

The sky’s the limit

The more she does, the more Lavinia feels is possible. For example, she attended a European Commission Forum in Bulgaria, with girls and boys from all over Europe. “I left the meeting changed,” she says. She had travelled independently, had conversed in a foreign language (English!), and had learned something from everyone she met. “I brought my enthusiasm back to school,” she continues. “I spoke to all my peers in a school assembly, and used social media and my free time to share my experience!”

Fun in hard work

Campaigning is tiring, it's hot, and sometimes you just want to go home, but if you're having fun, you put these thoughts from your mind. Trust is also essential. “When we realize that we can count on those around us, everything is achievable,” Lavinia says. Simple gestures, such as sorting your waste into the right recycling container, will motivate others, and in a short time it will come naturally to them.

Everyone can make a difference

Lavinia knows it is not true that the individual cannot make a difference. “There is always someone, perhaps on the other side of the world,” says Lavinia, “who is already doing it in his or her own little way. Don’t be discouraged, because we are all essential; we can really change things.” Lavinia and her classmates, for instance, will keep working with the Mayor on recycling and monitoring the implementation of the local system. She can’t wait to be back at school to do this.

Adults of tomorrow

Young citizens need the opportunity to make change because they are the best people to do it: “Our fresh minds allow us to be more flexible,” urges Lavinia. “So who better than us to promote the change? With the help of political decision makers, we can do it.” She’s keen to promote other young people’s participation, too: “Look for free opportunities to go abroad to learn about different realities, find out more about issues, take part in action; these are all unforgettable experiences.”

Lavinia’s story is part of the multiyear campaign, kicked off on International Youth Day 2019 by Oxfam’s Youth as Active Citizens Community.  The campaign aims to support the national influencing work of the respective programs by joining forces with local role models. The ripples of #Iwasthere are spreading out around the world and these stories are proof that change can happen anywhere – we hope they will inspire you, too, to become an active citizen.  

Why these stories?

There are more young people today than ever before in the history of the world; 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 worldwide, and 90% of them live in low-income countries. . Harnessing the energy and strength of young women and men to become active citizens is core to Oxfam's goal of transformational change.

With their energy, skills and creativity, young people have the potential to be the driving force for social change, strong economies and vibrant democracies. 

Oxfam is working jointly with youth to challenge barriers that prevent them from


Enjoying their rights


Participating fully in society


Being an effective voice in decision-making processes