Impact Stories & Blogs

Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.


Ssekitto Kalule Emmanuel, Uganda, Cohort 27

I am a professional visual artist, founder and team leader at Faces Up Uganda, an NGO that empowers young people (10-25 years) in mentorship through creative arts to instil the 5Cs; Creativity, Critical thinking, Confidence, Consciousness and Contentment to reach their full potential.  Joining the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa was something I had anticipated for a while. I had heard about the great work YALI RLC EA was doing in empowering young leaders all over Africa and being a civic leader optimistic about the future of Africa, it was an absolute delight to be there. I was impressed and at the same time positively challenged when I learned about the great work other young leaders were doing in their respective countries, which created a yearning for more of such stories. There was a great vibe in between activities at the Center; whether during or after sessions with a variety of cultural music tunes playing in the background in the process exhibiting the rich diversity Africa is blessed with. The Design Thinking sessions were my favorite, probably because the work I do is inspired by creativity, human-centred and seeks to address the challenges in the education system in Africa from simple, appropriate and practical angles. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People stood out for me too and I apply the principles every day.

YALI RLC EA imparted in me the spirit of networking and teamwork to support other people and so far, I have managed to collaborate with others in my cohort. I have worked with Eleanor Odhiambo Sharon (Cohort 2) to initiate an arts activity at Kenyatta National Hospital in the cancer children’s ward. I drafted her art activity work plans which she uses as a guideline to execute art activities. She has successfully conducted one and I was really happy to see the smiles from the children when she sent me photos. I have written another activity plan, which she will be executing soon and can't wait to hear of the results. 

Another great connection was with Emmanuel Achapah (Cohort 27) with whom we have mutual interest in creative work and humanitarian work. . He offered to redesign Faces Up website and printing of message cards designed by the kids that we support.

In October 2018, Achapah travelled from Kenya to Uganda to support us. He helped me as we pitched our program to UNFPA seeking their support to scale up our work in order to reach those that need it the most in the rural areas. He met my other teammates, some of the children we serve and their parents. He also had a mentorship and motivational session with students and teachers at one of the secondary schools where we work. Achapah has given his time, experience and skill to technically support our work and people at Faces Up,

I have also done work for alumni; Shain Kazibwe (Uganda), John Froggy Ajingdit (Sudan), Karangi Brian (Tanzania), and Zachuas Ogonji (Kenya) to design logos and posters for their organisations in support of the great work they are already doing. I also often meet alumna, Dorothy Nabakooza (Uganda) to  brainstorm ideas for her initiative that seeks to address bullying amongst young people in schools and other communities. I have also engaged many more in different capacities like through Faces Talks, one of our projects where we host various speakers on our Twitter page where they tell their impact stories to the World. It is always uplifting when fellow alumni get in touch with me and ask, "How are the children? How is your project going?"

After the YALI RLC EA program, I was shortlisted for an award competition called “What’s your solution” by Sawa World International Uganda. Although we didn’t win, it was another great platform for us to create awareness about our project and learn what other people are doing in a bid to transform Africa. I was also invited as a mentor into a mentorship program called Sauti Ya Sasa which seeks to build capacity for young people to improve their civic engagement in Uganda. It is implemented by Action For Development which is funded by GIZ and co-founded by European Union in Uganda.

Through Faces Up, we have managed to directly reach a total of 3,320 young people in 15 schools both primary and secondary, and engaged 37 mentors from high profile positions in Uganda.  Below are briefs about some of those we have helped:

Juliana Warija, 11 years old: Being a young refugee girl from South Sudan has not stopped her from following her dream of becoming a great footballer and runway model. We identified her interest of being a football player and model within three months during our engagement with her. We supported her by enrolling her in to a football academy where she now trains and we are always on ground to cheer her up and also transport her back to where she lives. World Bank got interested in her and donated three footballs to support her dream, and also featured her story on their website so that her story can inspire other refugees to follow their dreams.  Daily Monitor and New Vision, major newspapers in Uganda also wrote about her.                     

Kato Katongole Osman, 12 years old: We first engaged Kato in 2016. He aspires to be an international hip-hop dancer and trainer who looks up to Abrahams Tekya a professional dance instructor and Reneus Bbosa, an award winning dancer. Our excitement here is that we have managed to link him up to both of them, whom he now trains with and gets supported by. In July this year, we helped him record a documentary with Deutsche Welle TV a media company from Germany in a documentary called #77 Percent which was well received. He has gone ahead to perform at various platforms including the the Break Fast Jam annual dance competition on November 2018.  

For more information about Faces Up, check their website

Monday, 15 April 2019, 9:14 AM