Since our deployment as DOT Uganda Interns in April 2013, we have steadily continued to facilitate the ReachUp! program, which is empowering many numbers of community members who are now ready to address issues in their community.
At the beginning of June, I started facilitating to a new group of over 35 participants, all full of great enthusiasm and very committed to participating in the ReachUp! program.
Photo: participants in the ReachUp! program
The young men and women who are participating have come to us with limited ICT knowledge,and but are also frustrated with what they see happening around them in their communities. Some of them complained of not being able to find jobs or the capital to start their own businesses, whilst others shared stories of how they have combed the streets to look for jobs but with no luck.
From the stories these participants have shared with the class, I have realized that they have been influenced by our poor education system, which prepares students for job searching rather than to become job creators.
One of the participants, Fredrick, recently graduated from school with qualifications in Human Resources Management. He confessed that the education and training being provided in Uganda today does not equip youth with skills required in the job market as employees or employers. “It is heavily theoretical with little skills development in areas such as vocational and life skills, which prepare young people for the future world of work,” he said.
We also have women who come with their children to ReachUp! classes and at times their husbands come looking for them. We have been very aware of the immense need that women in our community have for training in technology, business, and entrepreneurship, and how few opportunities they have once they have children. We have supported the women in our ReachUp! sessions by talking about gender issues and women’s roles with the entire group of participants, some of whom were concerned about the women who were participating with children at hand.
We shared with the participants how women need to empowered to see that they can to participate and equally benefit from community enhancement projects like DOT’s ReachUp! program. This has helped to foster an environment that allows free expression of ideas as well as bonding of program participants.
And then finally, we have some senior citizens who are participating in the program and who bring rich experience in farming, business, public service, and development that has been invaluable to the entire group during the learning experience.
Above all, our whole group of participants is unique and with their growing togetherness, care and respect for each other, I know we will achieve much.
Photo: ReachUp! program participants work on vision boards as a part of thinking through their personal and professional goals