Ronald Nsubuga, a Youth Champion and Peer Facilitator from Kakubansiri Village, Mityana District did not believe he had the potential to stand in front of his peers and talk to them about SRH issues. He had little confidence in himself. But all this changed when he learned about Action 4 Health Uganda (A4HU) through a village meeting where young people had been mobilised to learn about a new project.
During this meeting, Ronald expressed interest in knowing about the TeamUp program. TeamUp is a multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral program that works in the fields of agriculture, water, and health. The program brings together three local implementing partner organisations, namely Action 4 Health Uganda (A4HU), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) and Whave Solutions. These partners pool their expertise in their respective fields to holistically target 50,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 in a pilot being implemented in Mityana District in the five sub-counties of Bulera, Bbanda, Malangala, Maanyi, and Kalangaalo.
TeamUp seeks to provide ‘improved livelihood prospects for young people in rural east Africa’ by improving their access to safe and fully functional water services, sanitation, safe hygiene practices, gender-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, enhanced entrepreneurial and technical skills, and financial services, resources and markets. The services offered are diverse and interwoven, ensuring that the young recipients benefit optimally, become self-determined and, in the long run, can make conscious decisions about leading a healthy and self-determined life, improve their economic situation and make their voices heard.
“Before joining the program, I did not know that one day I could have the opportunity to stand before fellow peers and inspire them on issues of sexual and reproductive health,” Ronald said.
Ronald and other young champions were taken through a number of trainings on club leadership, SRH, and life skills. According to Ronald, the trainings helped him and other young people to refocus and envision a better and healthier future for themselves.
“Before the introduction of the program in our area, young people had poor health-seeking behaviours and limited access to SRH services and information. Many sought services and information individually, with no collective effort. When the opportunity to join the youth club came, I had no reservations like other youths in the area. Consequently, I was selected as an SRH Peer Facilitator,” he said, adding, “Today, my club members and I have realised that a youth club is not only for learning about SRH issues but also for playing games together, learning good behaviour, making friends, facing our challenges together, accepting each other as young people, and growing up together to become adults.”
He further noted that many adults cannot believe how determined Ronald and his peers are to reach out to fellow young people with life-changing messages on SRH and guide them on accessing youth-friendly services at health centres.
The club further received training in agri-entrepreneurship skills, record-keeping skills, and saving and credit management. “Consequently, we ventured into commercial tomato farming, where we are applying good agronomic practices. We also initiated a Voluntary Savings and Loans Scheme, with a group cumulative savings of 350,000 UGS (85 EUR),” he says.
Ronald notes that belonging to the club has boosted his income and livelihood: “My weekly income ranges between ~250,000 to ~350,000 UGS per month, and I save ~10,000 UGS per week in mandatory savings, and ~500 UGS per week in voluntary savings. To date, I have saved a total of ~70,000 UGS in the group account.”
Because of the good work Ronald did as a facilitator with different youth groups in the community, he was ultimately selected as a Youth Champion. As a Youth Champion, he engages with various community and local leaders to demand youth-friendly services and spaces through which young people’s voices can be heard. “Being engaged as a Youth Champion has helped me to change my view about myself,” Ronald said. “I now believe in myself better. I believe that I am able to achieve anything. I am so full of confidence. My peers are my brothers and sisters, and I am helping them to adopt a healthier sex life.”
Thank you to Joseph at A4HU for sharing this story.