Youth for a Diverse Society
Ubuntu: “I am because we are.”
This tenet of African belief, held dear by Nelson Mandela, tells us that what matters is not our differences, but the essence of humanity that binds us together. What matters most of all is respect for human dignity and diversity.
In workshops throughout Uganda, our ULA teaching team has opened the minds and hearts of youth to groups of people who live on the margins of society -- groups who they've previously been conditioned to believe were inferior, such as women, sexual minorities, HIV/AIDS survivors, widows and their families, orphans, elders and refugees.
As a result of working with ULA, young people are able to release long-standing cultural beliefs and open up to new ways of thinking. Our youth are proving to be some of the most powerful advocates for a diverse society. Enthusiastically sharing their new insights and diversity-embracing practices with their communities, they are becoming humanity's leaders for a compassionate future.
Youth workshops in Human Rights and Inclusiveness in Mitooma and Kampala
Spirit in Action is an international charitable foundation that has supported ULA in a number of ways. For example, SIA gave ULA a grant to deliver a series of workshops designed to promote inclusiveness amongst the youth of the Mitooma area of rural Western Uganda. Impactful workshops were held at seven schools: the Bitereko Vocation Secondary School, Mussimenta High school, Kitojo Secondary School, Kasherenhero Vocation School, Kanyabwanga Secondary School, Rokenke Secondary School, and the Mutara High School.
Each Inclusiveness Workshop begins with the introduction of comprehensive human rights issues and the teaching of life planning skills for self-empowerment. An experiential learning agenda follows, where youth learn how to employ peaceful dialogue techniques when discussing sensitive issues, as opposed to using argumentative or competitive means of communicating. This dialogue-centric approach is practiced throughout each workshop.
We at ULA have learned through the years that youth learn best when they are actively engaged. Instead of imposing beliefs and theories, we invite youth to explore issues and discover their innate capacity for empathy through living, playful and interpersonal experiences. Drama and Role Play are particularly effective and inspiring modalities that we use in our workshops. The youth love it!
The Power of Dramatization
Students performing dramatization
in a workshop at Kashenshero Vocational School in Mitooma
Dramatization is a productive experiential tool used in workshops with youth, for they learn best when actively engaged. Understanding burgeons through the discovery that occurs through acting out real life situations rather than having beliefs imposed upon them.
Skits enable actors to practice new feelings of acceptance and inclusion, and to empathize with people associated with marginalized groups. By “standing in the shoes of others," participants learn that people whom they were taught to feel threatened by and have ignored, have the very same wants, needs, hopes and dreams as they have themselves.
At the end of a workshop, youth are typically highly enthusiastic about their new understandings and committed to "walking the talk."
Inclusive Clubs have been formed by students from each of the seven Mitooma schools we visited. These clubs now conduct programs carrying on the ULA mission of promoting inclusiveness in Uganda: Opening Hearts and Minds are interactive programs teaching inclusiveness throughout the community through interactive dramatic presentations.
Harmony Gardens is an organic gardening project that benefits Ugandan communities in numerous ways, including promoting of a diverse society. Harmony Gardens...
support their local Inclusive Club's activities
support local people through the distribution of healthy organic produce, and by providing educational workshops that teach efficient gardening methods
promote diversity by including local marginalized people in the gardening process as well as ensuring that they share in the literal fruits of their labor
Kenneth Taremwa is deputy head teacher at Bitereko School. He is now an active local ULA coordinator working closely with head teachers, government and community leaders. He describes the impact of this workshop series:
“The message of inclusiveness delivered in the workshops circulated by word of mouth around the district and reached community members and government officials. Teachers and students who attended the ULA workshops retold what they had learned to others. It helps to start thinking in a different way that seeks a constructive solution to the problems faced by people in our communities. ULA is there to fill the gap.” Students told him that they themselves "would love to have more training because they have many more questions."