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2016 International Youth Day, it was nice knowin’ ya!
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2016 International Youth Day, it was nice knowin’ ya!

On Friday 12 August, young people gathered in hundreds of locations across the globe from Kampala to Nairobi, from Johannesburg to Rio De Janeiro and from Nevis to Krakow to mark International Youth Day, and celebrate the myriad of different ways of how young people are contributing to the communities they want or desire to see. This year’s celebrations focused on the role of young people in promoting sustainable consumption and production as highlighted by Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Marking the day at Reach A Hand, Uganda, a beehive of activities ranging from interactions with members of our immediate office community- technically for the first time, leading a youth session at the 2016 Segal Family Foundation (SFF) Annual Meeting and visiting SFF partners on our first SRHR tour among others, made our day fully action packed and here are some of the highlights.

As the saying goes, love your neighbor as you love yourself, we couldn’t hold back the guilt of not “reaching a hand” to our loyal neighbors who have kept wonderful guard of our offices ever since we moved to Heritage village (Kitaranga), Kansanga.

Therefore, on the 2016 International Youth Day, we reached out to members of our neighboring community through door to door mobilisation where we shared with them accurate SRHR information and services, free HIV/AIDS testing and counselling outside our offices, condom distribution and demonstration.

When the sun went down later that day, over 285 young people had got to know their HIV status, over 50,000 condoms had been distributed and the activities updates had been shared on our social media platforms via the hashtags #SFFYouthVoices and #IYD2016.

Then came leading the youth led session at the SFF Annual Meeting. The 2016 International Youth day coincided with the day youth delegates that were selected from the range of SFF partners who were supposed to facilitate a session at the SFF Annual Meeting. The purpose of the session- which was the highlight of the Annual Meeting, was meant to promote meaningful youth participation as well as giving space to the young delegates to discuss innovative ways on how to overcome challenges they are experiencing in their communities for example child marriage, unemployment and lack of access to incentives among others.

The youth delegates had an opportunity to present their ideas and findings from the group discussions to all the delegates attending the Annual Meeting who had flown in from across the globe including funders and the amazing implementing partners from across Africa. Do we need a new definition of what leaving no one behind or what meaningful youth involvement means after this?

All delegates attending the Annual Meeting were later treated to an energetic performance by Bishop Cipriano SS students who won the dance theater competitions at our 3rd Annual Youth Health Camp dubbed #LifeInMyShoes. You can view their performance on our YouTube Channel. It is important to note that this was the first time youth delegates were attending the SFF Annual Meeting.

After the youth led session, we went out to visit grass root youth led and youth serving organisations that SFF directly works with for the youth delegates to understand the work that they do and perhaps learn a thing or two on how they can do the same back in their communities. These included AFFCAD which focuses on developing skills and empowering the slum youth of Bwaise, Set Her Free which is a girl empowerment organization that focuses on empowering vulnerable slum girls with life skills to sustain themselves and then us.

Then came the 6th edition of the Annual National Youth Festival that happened on August 20th at Makerere University Freedom Square under the theme: ‘Our moment: Championing individual youth initiative for job creation.’ We actively participated by engaging young people who visited our stall on their sexual reproductive health and rights. We took them through focus group discussions addressing issues that affect them as young people for example teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and menstrual hygiene. We even had a visit from the US Ambassador to Uganda Ms Deborah R Malac!

We didn’t forget talking about their career choices and equipped them with life skills that could help them build up initiatives that would help them become better individuals and job creators for their fellow peers. We also had condom distributions for both the male and female condoms as we advocated for safer sex and wrapped each session by giving out free literature on SRHR and showcasing some of the videos that talk about these issues.

This is where we say, 2016 International Youth Day, it was nice knowin’ ya!

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