For me as a spoiled German boy, who has never been to Africa or to a comparable country, it was a quite impressive adventure in Karamoja. I honestly don’t know where to start to describe my experience. Probably it all starts right after Soroti. The roads are getting unpaved and dusty. The holes in the street are getting bigger and bigger as closer you get to Moroto – In the end our car could easily fit in these holes. But thanks to Peter (our driver) we arrived safely.
Back to the work after several incidentals, which you have to calculate in Karamoja, we could start the training in Moroto at the 4th of September. We taught two different youth groups. On the one hand the Lokapelimen youth group from the Rupa sub-county, who are doing business in gold mining, and on the other hand the Cereal banking youth from Nadunget, who are looking for new activities and are currently jobless. The 2-day training was mainly structured in the topics entrepreneurships, economic skills and market links. In the end the trainers, who were hired from the private sector in Moroto, added some topics like saving strategies and group dynamics like how to act in a group or how to solve problems in a group. I was positively surprised by the motivation and ambition of these young groups. They seemed to be willing to change or improve their current life. They asked a lot of questions and the feedback that I got in the end was nearly perfect.
We kept on doing this training with the same teachers in Kotido. There we trained the two groups Lokochile farmer, who are doing agriculture, and the Loonei youth group. Again the students showed high participation and interest in this kind of training in alternative livelihood. With an average unemployment rate of over 80 % (World Bank) in this region the young people are glad to get some support and hope to get out of the trap of unemployment. The kids came up with several interesting business ideas and mentioned to me that they really would like to go on with the training. It has to be underlined that mostly none of the students neither in Moroto nor in Kotido could read or write or has ever visited a school. For the first time in classroom their behavior was just inspiring.
The last station of our trip was Abim. There we were not only confronted with hiring new trainers (because of the language barrier) but also with a different type of student. The education level was much higher therefore the expectation of the level of training was a little bit too high but also here we received a warm feedback. The names of the groups were Agile youth and TeoObia.
According to the high interest of the youth groups I highly recommended a follow-up training for them. Therefore we created a template of a simple business plan. We wanted tostart a discussion with each group to collect the business ideas and find a way to follow them on the way to their first try of an own business. Unfortunately I was not able to finish this project in my 7-week stay in Uganda but I hope that I can continue it back from Germany.
There is a unique chance to create a place for new inventions and hope for the youth in Karamoja. In my opinion this simple training could get a paragon character for the whole region and could give incentives to other youth groups.
By Tobias Block (05.10.2012)