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Harmonizer Program in Northern Uganda
The Harmonizer Program in Uganda officially launched in 2012 with the objective of nurturing a generation of peace-leaders in northern Uganda who are committed to reconciliation and violence prevention. WPDI is working with youth from northern Uganda to provide them with training in conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building as well as in meditation skills to promote inner healing. Youth participating in this program are either orphans, former child soldiers, children who were abducted by rebels, or other vulnerable youth who are recommended by their peers. Many of these youth have lost their parents or lost contact with them. Many of them have been so consumed by conflict that they do not know who they are.
WPDI is working closely with Hope North, an accredited secondary school that educates young victims of Uganda’s civil war, to complement and enhance the existing programs at the campus but also to bridge the existing gap and conflict between the North and South of Uganda. The program is also benefiting from the support of a key partner, Ericsson, which provides the youth with computers, mobile phones and basic Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and social media trainings and tools. Ericsson is also supporting the ICT deployment at Hope North with connectivity and Wi-Fi network as well as all the necessary equipment. In addition, WPDI and Ericsson have established a computer center at Hope North to facilitate the access of computers and internet by the youth participants.
Testimonials from YPN Members:
Cissy (27 years old) is from Wakiso District in central Uganda, and a Wakiso Youth Peacemakers group leader. “The biggest challenges in my community are unemployment and idleness among young people. After attending the first WPDI organized workshop in December 2012, I became motivated to start an income-generating project–a poultry farm with 35 birds–upon returning to my central Uganda home district. I also began a vegetable garden growing tomatoes, sukuma wiki (colewort), sweet potatoes, cabbage and cassava and was able to purchase a fridge with the proceeds to begin selling cold soda and water at a nearby trading center. As I continued WPDI training in business skills, project planning and management, I, along with my two colleagues Simon and Richard, in joint venture, established an electrical appliances and repair shop with a small grant from WPDI. The WPDI trainings I received enhanced and provided me skills in communication, group dynamics, and conflict resolution. I express my thanks to WPDI–I have been able to work with my community and start businesses that in addition to an income, have also changed my life.”
Simon (24 years old) is a former child soldier and founder of the Kuc Ber Drama Group. “I learned about WPDI while a student at Hope North Vocational and Secondary School, where I was lucky to be selected as one of the Youth Peacemakers to work in my community toward conflict resolution.
WPDI has changed my life. The educational trainings I’ve received in computers and technology, leadership skills, life skills, conflict resolution, project planning and management, among others, have taught me hard work, honesty, how to socialize and be a good leader and role model in my community. I was elected assistant group leader of Pader District and have formed a drama group called Kuc Ber, literally meaning “peace is good,” to raise awareness about the dangers of alcoholism and drug abuse, two very common afflictions among youth in my community.”
With a small grant from WPDI, Richard, Cissy and I started an electrical appliances and repair shop in Wakiso in 2014. We are planning to expand the shop and start vocational training to enable the unemployed youth to gain knowledge and skills for a decent livelihood.
Through WPDI’s initiatives, I have gained hope about my future."
Monday (23 years old) is Okello Chairperson of Gulu Destined Youth Peace Makers. “I learned about WPDI while I was a student at Hope North Secondary and Vocational School. I was selected to be in the Harmonizer Program and attended the first workshop in December 2012. Since then, in the series of workshops I have learned a lot about computers and technology, leadership skills, conflict resolution through meditation, nonviolence, and communication and public speaking. After what I learned in these workshops, I decided to start a peace club at Hope North with the aims of engaging the students in productive dialogue, giving them space to express their feelings in humble and healthy ways, and helping them connect with the world through the Internet and social media. I opened Twitter and Facebook accounts for the group. Currently I am an art facilitator at Hope North, group leader for Gulu Destined Youth Peacemakers, and the assistant patron of the Conflict Resolution Education program at Hope North. I am grateful to WPDI for teaching so many students to handle problem-solving in a peaceful and friendly way. Our community appreciates the change in their behavior and character, and many students have testified how WPDI’s mentorship program has helped change their lives.”
Steward (22 years old) is a member of Focus Ahead Youth Peacemakers, Kiryandongo District. “I learned about WPDI while I was still a student at Hope North Vocational and Secondary School, where I was selected to participate in the Harmonizer Program. We had training workshops in which my understanding of the challenges facing my community and my ability to work to build positive change have greatly improved. I also gained useful knowledge and skills in computers and technology, conflict resolution, and community empowerment. My friends and I have formed a football team called Kitwanga FC, which gives us the opportunity to make new friends, to promote dialogue, and reconciliation, and to mobilize for community outreach. Football has helped to reduce idleness and boredom among youth and has created awareness in our communities about the power of education and the dangers of denying it to children. Through this program, I have gained valuable experience and have newfound confidence in my social interactions with my community members. Most importantly, I have learned to love and respect everyone in my community. For all these things, and for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Harmonizer Program, I thank WPDI.
Francis, is chairperson of Focus Ahead Youth Peacemakers, Kiryandongo District. “I got involved with the Harmonizer Program in 2012 while I was a student and head prefect at Hope North Vocational and Secondary School. Since then, I have experienced great changes in my life and in my community. I have been exposed to the world through the Internet and I have learned that, in life, there are difficulties, but through hope, everything is possible. I have made a difference in my community by serving as an advisor to several young men and women and have helped them become good people. Now that I have completed secondary school, I have become a teacher at Hope North. The most important thing, to me, is that I am a role model at our school in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Before joining the Harmonizer Program, I was just like any other person in the community, but now, I have learned things that I hope can make a difference in the lives of my fellow community members.
Therefore I thank the WPDI team for the great changes they’ve helped make in my life. The Harmonizer Program means the world to me."
WPDI Uganda Office Staff
Joyce Sebit, Program Manager
Sylvia Amoding, Program Assistant
Lukwago Hassan, Program Support Assistant