25 year-old Michael Adeng is a South Sudanese refugee residing at Ayilo refugee settlement in Adjumani district. Michael is among the 90 lucky youths in Adjumani district who have just enrolled for vocational education under World Vision’s youth viability project.
‘’In 2013 my family was displaced by war and we moved on foot from Jonglei state, crossed the Nile and finally made our way to Uganda. I was in high school then and when we got to the refugee settlement in Uganda, there was no secondary school ready to offer me any form of education.’’ Narrates Michael Adeng
Michael, just like majority of refugee youths inside the settlements had lost all hope of ever going back to school, until World Vision run adverts calling for applications from youths who wanted to enrol for vocational studies.
‘’When I saw the advert I knew it was my answered prayer. I immediately applied for electrical installation. We were over 200 youths who applied for the scholarships but the program could only take 90 people for the start. Luckily I was among those who made it. I want to start up my own electrical installation company. I will start up my life afresh with these new skills’’ Says Michael.
The youth viability project is the first of its kind targeting both refugees and host community youths. Currently being piloted in Adjumani district, the one-year project, funded by Aktion Deutschland and Hilft in Germany is working with 3 vocational institutes in Northern Uganda to provide scholarships to the most vulnerable youths from refugee and host communities.
‘’The project aims at empowering both refugee and host communities and its aligned to our child protection programming in refugee settlements. Over 250 youths applied in 2016 for the 2017 intake but due to funding constraints, we have been able to take only 90. This include 60 refugee youths and 30 other youths from the host community in Adjumani.’’ Says James Kamira, World Vision’s social protection coordinator in Adjumani.
The project worked with refugee community leaders and representatives from host communities to identify vulnerable youths who dropped out of school due to conflict or financial constraints. The youths were then interviewed and shortlisted according to their needs and levels of education.
Those that got selected for the scholarship received 6-months tuition, a suitcase, mattress, basin, jerry can plus all required school items. Currently the scholarships are being offered at three vocational institutes; Moyo technical institute, Moyo community polytechnic and St. Monica vocational institute in Gulu district.
‘’All beneficiaries are given the freedom to enrol for a discipline of their choice. All we do is to make sure they have the right tools needed to undertake that particular course. Once they complete the course, the institutes will award them certificates.’’ Adds James Kamira.
For all the six months of study, the students are facilitated by the project to reside inside the technical institutes. The project also provides basic monthly living allowances for all the six months. The first phase of the youth viability project ends in September 2017 and will only be renewed if World Vision acquires more funding for the same.