On Wednesday February 27, 360 youths graduated after having attained skills they can use to improve their lives and earn incomes.
This was the first cohort of the 2019 Skills Development Project, a project initiated by BRAC Uganda in partnership with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).
The one-year project funded by the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) was developed to implement interventions in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement with both the refugee population and host communities.
Through an integrated approach, BRAC implemented the skills development project in which the trainees completed a six-month, non-formal training in trades including bakery, electronics, tailoring, carpentry and hairdressing amongst others.
The training was conducted by YWCA at their training centres in Kiryandongo. The trainees were also taught business skills, life skills and functional literacy and numeracy. Upon successful completion, each graduate received a start-up kit which had essential tools and inputs for beginning a business in line with their chosen trade, for example sewing machines and grinding machines.
Clementina Deng a 25-year-old refugee, and a successful graduate of the microenterprise part of the project said, “These skills are not handouts; we are carrying them with us for life, even when we return to our homes. We will be better and more productive people. This is something that will last.”
Ismail Kyepu, a local resident in Kiryandongo reiterated Deng’s point as he said, “Through the financial literacy trainings, I have learnt how to handle my money. I know the benefits of saving, and how to budget accordingly.”
Displaced persons may lose more than just their homes, they may lose access to skills, confidence and dreams. This is why, aware of the untapped potential borne by each individual and the role they play in the prosperity of their communities, BRAC decided to target the youth, women and girl’s population consisting of both refugees and host population to help them restart their lives and acquire technical and practical skills.
Given the high unemployment rates in Uganda generally, many youths and women are making their livelihoods in the informal sector which tends to be highly competitive. This intervention looks towards equipping trainees with the knowledge and skills to enhance and develop their entrepreneurial mind-set and create awareness about entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to paid employment.