Katwe Youth Resource Centre,
P.O. Box 28057 Kampala, Katwe Kayemba road Tel.+256703740479
The kids at the Katwe Youth Resource Centre just wanted to say “Hello” and “Thank You” for the help. Isaac is planning to video call tommarow morning.
July 13, 2015
I was born in Ngogwe Buikwe district on the shores of lake Victoria west of Kampala the capital city. I was born to Najuuko Jessica Ruth and Moses Kintu in 1993. My mother died of AIDS in 2001 followed by my dad in 2006 who was killed one day when he was coming from the town to sell produce. Leaving me and my two siblings under the care of our grandmother. Since childhood i have been studying on school bursaries or scholarships until i finished my diploma in law in 2014. Due to the level of nepotism in my country i couldn’t find a job in a law firm as a clerk since i had no one to second me. I got a job as a shop attendant and I directed my savings to opening up a youth center where anyone could come and acquire knowledge for free and get to know what is happening around them. Because of what i had gone through when i was a child, i thought of making a better environment for other kids around me.
The place where i live is located in Katwe, Makindye division a city suburb known to many as a filthy place but it is where we live and we also deserve the best in life because God created us all in his image making us all the same people. When i was growing up, i never had access to a computer until i had come to Kampala to join college. I loved the computer so much and i found a lot of information here which i had never thought of In my free time at school I used to go to the computer lab and searched for a lot of things that i was really surprised to learn about the world around me and the world at large. I hoped all the people in the world could get access to this kind of information that is on the internet. I thought of the people in my village who didn’t know anything beyond the village borders.
Katwe is one of those places you desire not to live in that is if you have a choice. There is no proper time or season of the day or year to come to this place. In the rainy season, houses are flooded and people hang their family belongings on the roofs of the houses and in the dry season, we choke on dust and contaminated air. The houses here are cheaper compared to other places though it comes with costs in terms of health. In the whole place there is no hospital or government health centre and all places where we can get medical treatment you are supposed to pay which is costly. Katwe houses about 6,000 people and the only proper place where you can get decent medical treatment is Nsambya hospital.
In Uganda, 60% of the population is the youth and 70% of those are unemployed leaving them with not so many choices in life. Everyday a number of youths move from the rural areas to come to Kampala with a dream of getting employment and a better future. Since the cost of living is very high and most of these cannot afford rent in the decent areas, they end up in places like Katwe, Katanga, Kivulu, Makerere Kikoni among other city suburbs. Most of the boys here that is about 60% do not attend any school and their day to day activities are, Gambling, sports betting, cards and others Picking metal scrap from garbage, pottering on buildings that is for those who are strong hearted, trading in drugs and for the girls prostitution is the order of the day and most of them aged between 14 and 28 are mothers of children whose fathers aren’t known.
The society i live in comprises of people who live on less than a dollar daily and most of them cannot afford decent schools for their children thereby living their children to the world to nurture and discipline them. Most of the boys here aged aged 8 – 17 years of age, wake up in the morning and go out to pick scrap metal which they sell to scrap dealers who have shops common in our area. The money they get from these endeavours is used to buy alcohol, drugs and gamble #sportsbetting which isn’t proper upbringing for any child in the world. Others between 15- 25 are pickpockets in the city and others do sell drugs in order to get what to eat .
The girls on the other hand are left at home by their parents to take care of their young siblings as the parents go into the city to look for means of subsistence. These girls that stay at home are most times lured into sexual activities by older men who deceive them with money #[the level of cross generational sex here is very high] Most of these are infected with HIV since most the men do not use protection and my dear sisters end up getting infected with AIDS at a very tender age. The lucky one who don’t get AIDS end up with pregnancies with no known fathers since one slept with more than one person. The HIV prevalence here is so high as HCT [HIV Counselling and Testing] facilities are not common and stigmatisation is the order of the day. The infected girls end up spreading the disease like wild fire coz they acquired the disease unknowingly. I interacted with one girl who is about 19/20 and she told me she has 8 boy friends half of which are older men who are probably married and half of which are in my age.
HIV testing and counselling services are difficult to get and most of the youth live with Aids unknowingly. Once in awhile testing camps come but they spend only one day here and the population is bigger than the personnel thereby leaving most of the people untested.
On seeing all this i feel bad for my nation and sorry for the young ones in the ghetto we live in. Ones that don’t know what’s really happening in the world around them, and the young ones that do not know that AIDS is real and it kills. This trend has gone on for so many years and now the ones between 30 years and above have lived in it, the ones as young as 8 years to 30 years are living in it. It’s been going on for a very long time and still going on and on.
I was alarmed by the life we live and what’s happened around me. I thought of many ways to change the status quo such that the young ones can get to know whats happening what’s awaiting them in the real world and we can fight together and find means to break the trend that has been going on for a very long time. Then we can set up a new generation of people who are informed and can make informed decisions that will benefit both the society and the people to come after us. I sat down and drew a five point plan that can at least be a torch that lighten up the path that we live.
I decided to set up a youth resource centre in Katwe where the youth can come and surf the internet and get access to millions of information out there. They can play computer games, read books and play board games that is for those who can. The ones that are illiterate can learn from the ones who know and at the end of the day the interaction between the ones who have acquire some education and the ones who haven’t benefits the illiterate and the society in the long run. The youth get to spend time here and this reduces the time they would spend doing drugs, gambling and doing all sorts of bad influence they get from their elders. I had an idea of getting as much books as i can so the kids are able to learn to read and get to sharpen their brains and increase the reading culture of the kids. I had thought about all books of all kinds #about the world we live in and the situations we live in. With these books the kids can learn how successful people achieved their dreams and how they can live away from the evils in our society and in the long run we are not kept in the dark any more.
I had the idea of setting up a talents club for the youth in our society. Here they would be able to express themselves through music, art, dance and drama. This would help them discover their talents and use them to impact on other people. The talent club can consist of all people ie dancers, singers, actors, writers, sportsmen among others. I believe anyone of these children here has a talent hidden in them and through this club, the kids can get more ideas on what they want to be in future which would change their way of thinking hence impacting on their future and the future of all others around them.
Peer education campaigns. This can be in form of outreaches to all people deep down the ghetto teaching the youth there about the dangers of premarital sex and the dangers of drug use on the body. In addition to that we can move with HCT [HIV counselling and Testing] teams and the people can get free testing and know their status. Using the youth talents club we can extend our campaigns to schools and other institutions where we can educate the youth about the dangers of premarital sex, drug use and offer counselling and guidance to the children through music, dance and drama in form of edutainment. This will help the children to live safe stay away from drugs, prostitution, gambling and all other evils in our society.
Outsource for school bursaries from schools around such that the youth and children who cannot afford school [less privileged] are able to get the privilege of attending school and brighten up their future.
Finally it’s in my dream to set up a home for the less privileged, homeless, orphans and young moms living with HIV with no help. With God on my side, maybe a school for the less privileged, orphans, and all the needy. Here all children can come and acquire education for free . Thinking out loud!!!
Katwe Youth Resource Centre,
P.O. Box 28057 Kampala,
Katwe Kayemba road