caricom@50Youth Development

Beneficiaries laud CARICOM’s Aspiring Youth Empowerment Programme


The unprecedented economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased youth unemployment. To combat the situation, the Youth Development Programme, Human and Social Development Directorate of the CARICOM Secretariat developed and designed the “Aspiring Youth Empowerment Programme” (AYEP), which consisted of training and mentorship.  

Meline Jean Louis, a beneficiary of the AYEP

With the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Programme was launched on 27 August 2020 and implemented over five (5) months.  

One hundred one (101) youth participated in interactive sessions focused on building their self-efficacy, self-esteem and confidence and sharpening their financial literacy, leadership, sales and marketing and other related entrepreneurial skills. 

Meline Jean Louis, a beneficiary of the AYEP, shared her remarkable story with us: 

I am blessed with a grateful heart! Finding a purpose and figuring out who you are is often hard. During the pandemic, I hit a rock so hard that getting back up seemed impossible. With bruises in my heart, I went into a deep depression. I always hoped to become a motivational speaker and writer, but I never believed in myself and would often judge my grammar and feel embarrassed about my education level. 

Coming from a home where only negativity was transmitted, I was swallowed in self-doubt when I was 10 years old without faith in my abilities. But all that changed after enrolling in the CARICOM AYEP in 2020.  

I hesitated because I was a mom of a newborn, but my aunt saw my desire and came to my rescue. I am grateful for being a part of the AYEP, as my life has changed. The care given to each participant during the training and having been assigned a mentor opened doors I never imagined possible. 

My mindset was changed to a “growth mindset”. I was supported, motivated and encouraged, but most of all, I received love and the boost I needed to keep thriving. I have discovered that nothing will be impossible if you have someone who believes in you. Success comes when you learn that accepting help leads to growth. I also learned that family is not always by blood.  I built a relationship with my mentor that allowed me to let go of fear. 

Each module in the programme also boosted my ability to write my first book. I never imagined it would happen so quickly. To my surprise, I gained a significant amount of confidence. I was encouraged to apply for college, which I did and was accepted. Although I am not sure where the finance will come from, I have let go of the fear and the negative thoughts.  I have promised never to stop going after my goals and dreams, even when it is difficult. 

Today, I am grateful and express a big THANK YOU to the CARICOM Secretariat for the good you are doing. I hope you will continue to support and encourage young minds that are lost and in need of direction. 

Thank you for being a “life star”. 

Editor’s note: Meline’s book, “What do you mean you can’t?” is available on Amazon.  

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