Youth Social Work Association (YSA) provides capacity building, psycho-social and material support to young people in Uganda. YSA believes that the youth of Uganda constitute a powerful, important and positive resource in society. In order to be active players for change in all parts of society, young people have to be given the chance, opportunity and tools to impact and change their community. All YSA's projects incorporate a participatory approach since YSA believes that sustainable and lasting peace in Uganda can only come from within the community.
In 2010 YSA, together with Cord UK, educated 20 youth peace ambassadors in conflict resolution, dialogue and peacebuilding and started five high school peace programmes, reaching 10,000 students and 5,000 community members, with a non-violent conflict resolution message in the Kitgum district.
YSA ran a comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness camping in Gulu between May and December 2011 using sports activities. The information campaign reached 3,000 youth in the district. 1,020 youth were also tested for HIV/AIDS.
Between December 2011 and December 2013 YSA trained and supported 30 community monitors in the Gulu district to advocate for human rights and the right to clean water. The monitors were given the tools and support to engage and approach community and government leaders on issues concerning water, sanitation and rights.
From July 2012 to December 2013 YSA implemented an income generating project aimed at former female combatants in Gulu. By helping the women establish agricultural enterprises in groundnut production 300 individuals benefited from the project, raising their income levels and quality of life significantly.
In Jul 2012 YSA, in cooperation with aBi Trust, launched a two year project in Dokolo district, northern Uganda, which focused on creating income through sunflower production. The project, building on the Village Savings and Loan (VSLA) methodology, covered 120 youth and women's groups, with 25-30 members in each group trained in agricultural skills and the VSLA approach. The savings and loans project has enabled marginalised youth and women in Dokolo to start their own enterprises and create a better future for themselves and their families.
“Savings and Investments begins with attitude change”
“When I look at my life before YSA and my life now I sometimes think I am dreaming...” says Oluka Joel of Kachung youth group in Agwata sub county. Oluka was one of the beneficiaries of the sunflower income generating project implemented in Dokolo district in 2012. At the beginning of the project Oluka was sceptical about farming and the VSLA approach and didn’t believe that growing sunflowers would generate income or that you can save by starting from nothing. As the project ran and the results came out, Oluka became more and more engaged in the VSLA group and soon volunteered to be trained as a change agent, helping to train others, monitor the project and managing VSLA groups.
Oluka has now used the entrepreneurial skills he learned during training and has expanded his business enterprise. As he explains: “[t]he income realised from the sale of sunflowers made me curious to apply the business skill I gained from the entrepreneurship training. So I started a business, with my wife selling fish while I invested in produce. So far, I have managed to buy a house at the trading centre, which is being rented out, and also established a glossary shop which I now manage with my wife. I still have more dreams so I am continuing to save. On a weekly basis, I save 45,000Sh and my wife saves 30,000Sh in another saving group. I thank YSA and aBi Trust for supporting me and the family; I am on the right path and able to meet the family demands”.
“Ground nuts in Gulu”
In July 2012 YSA and aBi Trust launched a project in Gulu aimed at helping formerly abducted women (FAW) reintegrate with society. The women, who had been abducted by rebels, were struggling with their daily lives as a result of the trauma. The FAW’s were also met with suspicion from the community, who often viewed them as potential troublemakers that turned to violence to get their way. Through the project YSA utilised a psychologist and social worker to provide the women with psychological and economic support aimed at establishing businesses in the ground nut production line. The psychological support was also directed at the wider community, with dialogue meetings aimed at breaking down prejudice and stereotypes about the FAW’s.
The approach proved to be successful in dispersing negative stereotypes and building trust for the FAW’s in the community. As a result of the project, one of the participating FAW’s was elected as a councillor representing women in Koro Sub County. Several more have become model farmers in their communities. One of the beneficiaries said the following about YSA and the project: “Thanks to YSA and aBi Trust for their support. It has helped me to emerge as one of the best farmers under NAADs this year and I have received improved banana suckers”.