Byciel Watsaam, 28, is a musician and an award-winning recording artist from Suriname. He also works for PADF. He performed his original song, "Mia Sabi," at a recent graduation for PADF's Kari Yu! Program, which provides at-risk youth in Suriname with skills and job training. We caught up with him to learn more about his life and the inspiration behind the song.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to work for PADF?
I have a bachelor’s degree in international law. I'm a recording artist, I teach guitar in my free time to beginning guitarists and I'm also a vocal coach for different youth groups.
I produce the yearly Global Leadership Summit in Suriname and work as program manager of a small project in Marowijne that provides theatrical, presentation and vocal skills to youth in Moengo and Albina. My ambition is to become a diplomat and my dream is to do music on a professional level. I'm working on both of those goals at the moment.
What inspired you to write the song?
I wrote this song in 2013, before I started working at PADF. My inspiration is my own life. I recorded and launched it in March of this year. I'm an inspirational writer, so my lyrics are mainly focused on social aspects, empowering, encouraging and strengthening everyone, but most of all the most vulnerable.
What has it been like working for PADF?
I have a social heart and I love working with people. Working at PADF brought me closer to the most vulnerable group in Suriname. Their vulnerability does not only lie in their low education level, but far more the challenges in their communities, the environment they are living in and the lack of opportunities they have at such a young age.
Being part of this project made me look at youth development differently. The bigger picture is nothing without investing in the lives of individuals. Serving the individual means serving a community and serving a community means serving the Surinamese people.
The experience has also broadened my views as an artist because it makes me see things from another angle and can elevate my writing skills on social issues.
What is your role in the Kari Yu program?
I've been part of the wonderful team of PADF for almost a year. A friend of mine sent me a vacancy letter from PADF in October last year and I was immediately interested after reading the terms of reference. I was hired as a Workforce Development Officer. My role is to reach out to the private sector. I assist in fostering productive links with private sector employers to generate entry-level employment, provide pre-employment services to our youth and partners and also place youth in jobs.
How do you hope that the song will inspire youth that complete Kari Yu! Training?
I hope that my song encourages them to try again, even when they fail in life, and to believe in their future by setting achievable goals and truly going for them.