By Prof. Waswa Balunywa and Diana Nandagire Ntamu
Mohammed Kisirisa, an alumni of YouthActionNet, a program of the International Youth Foundation created a centre in the slum of Bwaise, Kampala to help young slum dwellers to turn around their lives through self-employment. Kisirisa, populary known as Slum Ambassador, has over the last few years been working with young people in slums mainly in Kampala area to change their lives by enabling them to have something to do.
Besides free vocational training, his organisation Action For Fundamental Change and Development (AFFCAD) has been working to mitigate the impact of HIV AIDS on youth in slums. He has been providing reproductive health education programmes, HIV AIDS educational programmes and testing young people for HIV AIDS. A large number of youth access free treatment through AFFCAD.
The slum dweller’s work has been recognised by the International Youth Foundation when he competed for the Global Fellowship Programme and now he is an alumni of the programme.
The Youth Employment Centre was opened on Friday January 24, 2014. It was funded by the US Embassy in Uganda following a project proposal he wrote to the embassy over the matter.
Ambassador Scott H. Delisi thanked Kisirisa for his effort and was pleased that the people of the US were able to make a contribution to change the lives of others.
We participated in this occasion and Ms. Diana Ntamu, the Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre, delivered a key note address at the event. Ms. Ntamu highlighted the growing importance of social entrepreneurs who are helping the world to improve the lives of the poor. She said that while government had a major role in addressing the poor people’s challenges, it did not have the capacity to do so. Social entrepreneurs were emerging to support government effort in this respect. She said the biggest challenge today was poor young people amidst low opportunities for employment. She thanked the slum ambassador for the initiative to address the challenges of unemployed youth. She said life in slums was by itself a challenge and not having a job was even a worse challenge.
She thanked the Ambassador for assistance.