TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE PRACTICAL SKILLS OF EARNING A LIVING
Mt. Elgon Self-Help Community Project has for a few years been working with young people in groups with a focus on self-help. Children and young people are experiencing the effects poverty, conflict, HIV and AIDs. A large number of them have lost their parents and other family members, dropped out of school, married at an early age and are taking care of the younger siblings, among other difficulties.
Despite the trauma that children and young people are going through, some of them have been responding positively to adversity. Each one of them is doing something to respond to trauma and it is surprising that most of their initiatives and actions have been taken for granted!
Looking at the way that young children are responding to trauma in our communities, we remembered Dulwich Centre founder Michael White’s ideas that “people are not passive recipients of trauma”. People always respond to trauma in ways that foster their survival and that of others. These responses to trauma are often overlooked or disqualified, and sooner or later they become clouded and forgotten by them and others.
Based on that reason, the project has provided a platform where young people come together to share stories about different ways in which they are responding to trauma. This practice rejuvenates their hopes, values, aspirations and their purpose of existence. Here are some of the ways they help themselves and others:
Young people come together to learn about issues of sexuality and how to protect themselves and others from HIV/AIDS.
Young people have developed songs, plays, poems and games that teach and counsel them to live positive lives.
Young people also educate each other about alcohol so that they can bear good fruits in the future.
Young people are also committed to support children in Summer School camps and to teach games, songs and ways of survival in the community.
Young people are also taking part in income-generating projects so that the burden of care does not entirely lie in the hands of the caretakers, and they can take part, as well.
And then there are also economic projects that young people are involved with:
“Some of us come together every Sunday to talk about economic projects and to deposit some money for savings. We support each other through hard times. We are also busy planting vegetables and raising chickens in our homes. We save and then use our own money for the books and uniforms we need to attend school. We work to stand on our own without the help of our parents who carry so many burdens for all of their children.” Bukiabi Youth Club
This project has established a tailoring unit to enable these young people to acquire practical skills in tailoring. This opportunity also has been provided to young mothers who were forced to drop out of school due to pregnancy, early marriage and poverty, among other reasons.
The training takes 6 months. The beneficiaries work and live within the communities where we operate and this makes it possible for them to attend sessions on a daily basis. At the end of the course, the project intends to give the learners starter tools to start income-generating projects within their communities.
Only 100,000 Uganda shillings ($50) can help support a young person to initiate a project.
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