When Ambrose Angello Kijana attended a meeting of young Africans in Ethiopia last year, it was a life-changing moment for the young Ugandan who grew up in an SOS family in Entebbe.
Ambrose’s hope is that the connections he gained through the event – the Pan-African Youth Empowerment Conference organised by SOS Children’s Villages Ethiopia and the African Union Commission – will lead to a better future for today’s 420 million-strong African generation that is 15 to 35 years old.
Ambrose was SOS Children’s Villages Uganda’s representative to this event, along with Culton Scovia Nakamya, 24. Culton’s family was supported through SOS Children’s Villages Uganda’s family strengthening programme in Kakiri.
For Ambrose, a 22-year-old student at Kyambogo University in Kampala, empowering his peers is nothing new. As a child growing up at the SOS Children’s Village Entebbe, he participated at the SOS Children’s Parliament that provides a forum for children and young people to speak out about issues in the Village and their community.
“It was a big opportunity,” he says of the Pan-African event. “Getting to learn from the experiences of other youth outside Uganda, from all across Africa, showed me that we are all equal. Education is one of the challenges that almost all of us have.’’
‘’You find that education we have today does not always prepare you for a job. You study, you get a piece of paper, but you may not get the practical skills you need to do the job,’’ adds Ambrose, who studies management science and wants to pursue further studies in finance.
New SOS alumni group organised
Ambrose and Culton have also helped in the launch of an SOS Children’s Villages alumni group that is being organised by Moses Manyi, 28. Moses grew up at the SOS Children’s Villages Kakiri – the first of four villages in the country – and works for Mentor Coach Empower Uganda, an organisation that helps early school leavers improve their employment skills.
Ambrose Angello Kijana (main photo) grew up SOS Children’s Village Entebbe. In November 2017, he was among the more than 60 alumni of SOS Villages, family strengthening, Hermann Gmeiner schools and other programmes attending the inaugural meeting of the SOS Alumni Association of Uganda in Kampala. Photo (above) by Ambrose Angello Kijana. Photo of Ambrose Angello Kijana by Timothy Spence
More than 60 alumni of SOS Villages, family strengthening, Hermann Gmeiner schools and other programmes attended the group’s first meeting in Kampala in November 2017, along with several children from the Villages.
“They are trying to create a stronger relationship between people who are working and the children still in the Village or in family strengthening so the younger ones will benefit,” says Olive Lumonya, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Uganda.
For Ambrose, the alumni group can address the empowerment and employment challenges facing young people and inspire the generation that succeeds the alumni.
“My experience at SOS Children’s Villages changed me. I was kind of a stubborn child,” Ambrose recalls with a laugh. “But as time went on I realised that if I don’t use this opportunity, there was no other way I would get an education and go on with life.”
“What we are working for is bringing all SOS children together and uniting to help us all have a better future,” he says. “One of the things we want to do is have a [group] to come back to the SOS Villages to see how we can help our young brothers and sisters. It gives us a chance for us to come back and share our experiences.”
“We want to encourage our brothers and sisters in a positive way in choosing a career,” Ambrose says. The group also wants to encourage younger people to work hard and advance. “You don’t have to start big, you can start small and grow.”