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WPDI youth completed their training, strengthening our peace force in northern Uganda

From 19th to 23th March, we worked with our two newest cohorts of aspiring youth peacemakers - respectively from the Acholi subregion and the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement both located in northern Uganda, taking them to full speed in view of serving their communities as mediators and entrepreneurs.

These young women and men are part of our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), through which we seek to mobilize youth leadership as a catalyst of lasting peace and sustainable development in communities affected by conflict and armed violence.

WPDI puts youth in the driving seat by first providing them a year of intense trainings in conflict resolution, ICTs, life skills and entrepreneurship and then supporting them as they go back into their communities to promote peace and to develop educational and income-generating projects. In vulnerable areas where young people are often deprived of opportunities, we create conditions for committed youth to demonstrate their capacity to serving their community and bringing forth positive change that benefits all. 

The workshops thus came at a hinging moment for the two distinct groups who completed their core training only in December and are now about to officiate in earnest as change leaders in their respective communities.

The Acholi peacemakers who had effectively graduated in December received a 5-day refresher training in ICT, business and CRE to strengthen their knowledge base. Taking them by pairs from the same counties, we ensured that they could consolidate their knowledge and skills in a tailored way. Otto John Bosco from Omoro County, recognized that this refresher workshop was a unique opportunity “to have a close and almost one on one discussion with the trainers. I had the chance to ask few questions on areas that I didn’t know much. I feel more confident and ready to replicate in the community the trainings we received from WPDI and to take part in dialogue and mediation in my community.” In the same vein, Amito Agnes Aceng, a young woman from Kilak North, told us that “I have gained a lot skills and confidence in public speaking, as well as the preparation and presentation of materials suiting different age groups. I can present it before everyone unlike the previous workshops where I had no confidence in myself which trickled down to what I would as well present.”

Seven of the Acholi youth who had not succeeded at their tests in December went over the main components of the curriculum again and, this time, all of them passed the exam. A full cohort of peacemakers is ready to undertake their community work, which will start with them training another 242 local youth in the Acholi subregion. 

In the refugee settlement, the focus was on those youth who had not passed their tests and failed to graduate. With 13 of them finally graduating, we now have a force of 42 peacemakers set to train 358 youth within the settlement. Their general excitement at being now so close to engage their communities was palpable, as expressed in the testimony of Oketa Filbert Ronald, a young South Sudanese refugee: “My graduation motivated me to work harder than before and above all the training I gained made me confident to move forward.” Fellow peacemaker Nabwile, a Ugandan national from Kalwala a village in the surroundings of the Kiryandongo settlement was no less enthusiastic: “My graduation today marks a turning point in my life since I joined the ranks of the peacemakers. I have the confidence that I can train fellow youth at the village levels without fear. My parents and village community shall really be proud of me.”

Wishing to surprise these dedicated young people with a special gift, we decided to crown the week with a surprise by taking everyone - the youth and the local staff of WPDI - to attend a private projection of Black Panther, courtesy of our CEO/Founder, Forest Whitaker. Everyone came back ecstatic - notably the trainees who could not help assimilate Mr. Whitaker’s role in the movie as mentor of the main character with the role he plays for them at the helm of WPDI.