I just returned from my semi-annual trip to Uganda. I had the unique opportunity to mingle with a group of young adults who were on campus at URDT for a Youth Leadership training program sponsored by the Ugandan government. These 121 young men and 79 young women had been recruited from the slums surrounding the capital city, Kampala, and bussed out into the countryside for this three-month training.
While I was on campus, I gave a talk at the morning assembly about the “Occupy” movement in this country. These young people—many of whom had been involved in the Walk to Work riots in Kampala—were quite interested to hear about the growing income inequality in the U.S., the current unemployment situation, and the fraying of our social safety net. They were also interested to learn that the right of free speech and freedom of assembly make it quite a bit easier to demonstrate and to air your grievances in the U.S. than it is in their country—where both the police and the military take a rather dim view of public demonstrations. Since the Ugandan police tend to crack down quickly, the demonstrations often become violent.
I was impressed by the enthusiasm and passion with which these young people embraced the three months of education they were being offered by URDT, through the auspices of the Ugandan government. But what struck me the most is that many of these students told me they actually yearned to move back to the countryside where the air is clean and the surroundings are a lot less noisy than the city. They were re-discovering the joys of living close to nature, at the same time that they were learning new skills they could use to earn a living anywhere (in the city or the country).
This case study updates the one I wrote six months ago about the URDT Vocational Institute.
Turning Protests Into Realizable Visions
URDT Institute Is Transforming Unemployed Youth Into Job Creators in Uganda
By Patricia B. Seybold, CEO and Sr. Consultant, December 1, 2011