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WPDI training of 368 youth in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, northern Uganda, recognized by local leadership as “a chance for community youths to have a productive and meaningful life”

Taking a critical step to build a local force for peace and development in and around the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, northern Uganda, 46 WPDI young leaders have started training another 368 local youth from 16 clusters of the settlement and neighboring communities. The first in a series of four, the 5-day training organized in June-July aimed to give these local youth an initial background on such areas as conflict resolution and entrepreneurship, providing them skills they will use as they work with us to promote peace and initiate income-generating projects.

Reflecting our philosophy that harnessing the promise of young people can bring positive transformative change to conflict-affected or fragile communities, the training of these 214 boys and 154 girls by 46 youth leaders is a key phase in the deployment of our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN). Our objective is to tap the potential of endogenous youth to empower them as change makers in communities affected by conflict and fragility. This is a program that we implement in Mexico, South Sudan and Uganda, where we have partnered with the Western Union Foundation to develop a branch of the YPN in Kiryandongo.

Our strategy is to first train over a year a core group of young women and men – the above-mentioned 46 trainers of trainees (ToTs) – whom we later support as they go back into their communities to, among others, mediate tensions and conflicts, organize community dialogues, teach conflict resolution in schools, and develop small businesses. Working with them are local youth whom they train themselves to equip them with indispensable skills as well as create among them the esprit de corps that need to undertake such a challenging mission.

During the training process, we engaged directly with both local and district-level authorities. The Settlement Program Coordinator and the County Coordinator were present throughout and supportive too: both provided oversight and encouragement to our ToTs and trainees. As one local leader noted, “this is a chance for community youths to have a productive and meaningful life. After the training, they shall be supported by the community to kick poverty out of their lives and encourage other youths to join future WPDI initiatives.”

Local young people were just as enthused. After successfully completing the training, John – a local boy from the settlement – told us that the training had “given me more knowledge on conflict resolution and business skills that I shall use within the refugee settlement and, when I go back home in the near future, to help my people and my country.” We’re looking forward to the impact all of our trainees have on their communities!