We at (OYOH) organized an event on the 2nd of December 2015 that showcased the talents and skills of refugees and Ugandan youth,with a major focus on the refugee youth ideas. Through our consultative, skype meetings, prototyping sessions with them, we brainstormed and discussed together a number of issues of concern to the youth. This enabled us to plan strategically with communities on how best the event would be carried out. The intensive planning meetings made us co-create creative solutions with the refugee youth. We identified the gaps that needed to be addressed such as youth building partnerships, networking and them freely expressing themselves through their talents and skills.
Unfortunately,we were faced with limited or no resourcesin order to strategically coordinate the entire event preparations. Due to this challenge, this made us think beyond all odds because we couldn’t give up on our passion for making a difference in societies. This led us to call for more planning meetings to plan efficiently and effectively on how we were going to mobilize resources for the event. We decided to fundraise amongst ourselves the little financial resources we could come up with at that moment. We managed to raise over shs200,000 Ugandan shillings which catered for our transport and documentation costs. This helped us to deliver formal invitation letters and carry out door to door mobilization movements to various organizations, communities, corporate companies and refugee community leaders. We promoted the event on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and U tube. We also printed out flyers, onepull-up banner and banners for the event which helped us on visibility purposes and promoting the event.
We were able to secure the venue for the event at the Uganda National Cultural Center where we negotiated a 70% /30% partnership agreement for payment of the venue premises. We sold tickets amongst the communities, organizations and well-wishers which enabled us to get some financial resources and plan accordingly. We further pitched the event concept idea to one of the refugee community business leaders. He liked our idea and supported us.We raised some Ugandan shillings from the ticket sales and money raised all together for the event. Various corporate companies such as WBS television, Vision group, Housing finance bank, refugee grass root organizations such as Xavier project, Soccer without borders, Yarid, Refugee law project, HIAS Refugee trust, Windle trust Uganda and also Reproductive Health Uganda actively supported the event.
Furthermore, we had a social objective of promoting awareness on female genital mutilation where we managed to sensitize over 200 youths. The presentation was carried out by Reproductive Health Uganda(RHU) and many youths took a pledge to be advocates and promote awareness of this vice in communities. We registered 210 youths who were interested in actively getting involved in the initiative and becoming members of the initiative. Over 15 youth groups showcased their cultures, music and dance talents at the event and one of the youth groups came from Nakivale settlement. WBS television show cased the youth talents on their prime news bulletins of 9th of Dec 2015 at 9pm, free of charge. This exposed talents and cultures of refugee youth through music and creative dances on national broadcasts.Kampabits organization, urban and Nakivale refugee youth recently formed talent groups and some of these youths are financially benefiting from their music talents because of the event.
We later carried out an evaluation meeting after the event where we visited various refugee communities. We got views and remarks from the refugee grass root organizations on how we could improve the event. The refugee grass root organizations were eagerly looking forward to us planning and working together, to jointly organize more future events and activities.
“We need to mobilize more of the refugees from different settlements and host community youth in order to encouragevolunteerism, unity and create more opportunities and linkages with the youth.”
Haifa,25yrs (Sudanese Youth Refugee community leader)
Haifa’s insights and the refugee youth views gave us a clear strategy on how to plan for future events strategically and better.This also encouraged us to come up with the idea of youth voices of Africa annual events. We plan to implement this event every year with various reputable interested development partners from both the private and public sectors.The event opened very many opportunities for partnership building, networking and promoting collaboration among the refugees and host community youth.
TheYOUTH CONNECT event also inspired and encouraged organizations like InterAid Uganda to organize “The TUNAWEZA event” in conjunction with Makerere University school of liberal and performing arts. This event was held on 30th January of 2016 at the Uganda National Cultural Center.
It’s on this note that we sincerely want to thank Ms. Emily Byaruhanga, the former associate programs officer at UNHCR Uganda, Ms. Keiko Odashiro and the entire team at UNHCR, it’s supporting and operational partners for all the support you are rendering to us. We truly appreciate and we are looking forward to greatly impacting on societies and restoring hope among both the refugees and host community youth for a prosperous tomorrow.
Thank you very much and May the Almighty God bless you abundantly.
Vice coordinator/Innovation development officer.
Oneyouth Oneheart Initiative(OYOH).