Inspiring Peers to Better and Healthy Lifestyle in the Community
Ronald Nsubuga, a youth champion/peer facilitatror from Kakubansiri village, Mityana district did not believe he had the potential to stand in front of his peers and talk to them on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) issues. He had little confidence in himself. However, all this changed when he learnt about Action 4 Health Uganda through a village meeting where young people had been mobilised to learn about a new project.
During this meeting, Ronald expressed interest in knowing about TeamUp program. TeamUp is a multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral program that works in the fields of Agriculture, Water and Health. It brings together three local implementing partner organisations namely; Action 4 Health Uganda (A4HU), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) and Whave Solutions. These partners pool their expertise in their respective fields to holistically target 50,000 young people between the ages of 15 - 30 in a pilot being implemented in Mityana district in five sub-counties of Bulera, Bbanda, Malangala, Maanyi, and Kalangalo.
TeamUp seeks to provide "improved livelihood prospects for young people in rural East Africa" by improving their access to safe fully functional water services, sanitation, safe hygiene practices, gender friendly sexual and reproductive health, enhanced entrepreneurial and technical skills, financial services, resources and markets. The services offered are diverse and interwoven ensuring that young recipients benefit optimally, become self determined and in the long run take consicious decisions about leading a healthy and self determined life, improve their economic situation and make their voices heard.
TeamUp is a new multi-sectoral approach to development cooperation. It was initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is managed as well as co-financed through three foundations; Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevolkerung (DSW), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) and Siemens Stiftung.
"Before joing TeamUp, I did not know that one day I could have the opportunity to stand before fellow peers and inspire them on issues of sexual and reproductive health," Ronald said.
Ronald and other young champions were taken through a number of trainings on SRH, club leadership and life skills. The trainings according to Ronald helped him and other young people to refocus and envision a better and healthy future for themselves.
"Before the introduction of the program in our area, young people had poor health seeking behaviours and limited access to SRH information and services. Many sought for services and information individually, with no collective effort. When the opportunity to be be formed into a youth club came, I had no reservations like other youths in my area. Consequently, I was selected as an SRH Peer Facilitator," he noted.
Adding "Today, my club members and I have realised that a youth club is not only for learning about SRH issues, but also for playing games together, learning good behaviour, making friends, facing our challenges together, accepting each other as young people and growing up together to become adults."
He further noted that today, many adults are in disbelief of their determination to reach out to fellow peers with life changing messages on SRH and guide them on how to access youth friendly services at the health centres.
The club further received training in agri-entrepreneurship skills, record keeping, savings and credit management. "Because of the training, we ventured into commercial tomato farming where we are applying good agronomic practices. We also initiated a Voluntary Savings and Loan Scheme, with a group cummulative total of Ug. shs 350,000 (EUR 85)," he says.
Ronald notes that belonging to the club has boosted his income and livelihood. "My monthly income ranges between Shs. 250,000 to Shs. 350,000. I have Shs. 10,000 per week in mandatory savings and Shs. 500 per week in voluntary savings."
Because of the good work Ronald was doing as a facilitator with different youth groups in the community, he was ultimately selected as a Youth Champion. As a Youth Champion, he engages with various community and local leaders to demand for youth friendly services and space through which young people's voices can be heard. "Being engaged as a Youth champion has helped me to change my view about myself. I now believe in myself more. I believe that I am able to achieve anything. I am so full of confidence. My peers are my brothers and sisters, and I am helping them to adopt a healthier sex life."