Due to the nature of the work Uganda Unites does, we interact with youth from all over the country and from different walks of life. Some youth really shock us with how much they are willing to give back to see Uganda become a better place for future generations.
This week we sat down with one of the youth that Uganda Unites has had the privilege to mentor; Leonard Ssenyange. Leonard is a twenty (20) year old student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with Education at Makerere University.
His journey with Uganda Unites started in high school, way before he joined university. This was in 2019 when he was in form five at St. Henry’s School, Kyengera. Uganda Unites visited his school on a school relation visit, and when prompted to become a member of the organization, Leonard took hold of the opportunity. He went on ahead to become the president of the peace club that was formed in his school; as is Uganda Unites’ norm.
Leonard says that when the Uganda Unites’ team visited his school and gave them an insight on civic engagement, leadership skills and non-violence, he knew he had to be a part of the organization. He says that this is what fueled him to vie for president of the peace club; and he stopped at nothing to remind his fellow students and peace club members the importance of peace building and disregarding stereotypes about different societies and communities within the country.
Leonard had been peace club president for three (3) years before he had to hand over. “The handover only inspired me to want to start a peace club in whichever community I went to; which is why I started a peace club when I came to university,” he says.
He goes on to say that it is very easy to be misguided while at university because of all the freedom youth find themselves having; which freedom they did not have while in high school. He says it is very easy to misuse this freedom.
As a result a peace club is of the essence to try and instill values like love, harmony, and unity; which is what he found in Uganda Unites when he first joined.
“Being a peace club leader has taught me to be confident, assertive and has helped me learn how to work in a team,” Leonard says. “By volunteering with Uganda Unites, I have had to let go of impulsiveness. You have to think before you act. Your actions do not only affect you; they affect everyone around you; and you have to remain conscious of that fact. It’s always better to live in harmony than to cause havoc,” he says.
“I hope that in the future we can have a united Uganda. My dream is to have true friendship and teamwork in this country; that we can all unite together against Uganda’s problems as opposed to letting these problems divide us. From volunteering with Uganda Unites and interacting with different youth, I find that the things that seemingly divide us are very trivial, and more often than not, stereotypical. I have faith and strongly believe that when we unite, choose to see eye-to-eye and hence attain peace, there will be exponential growth in all spheres of the country, that is, economic, social and political.”
As a parting shot, Leonard advises young people today to be relentless about what they are passionate about; to utilize their talents and consider everything to be an opportunity in life. He encourages youth to join and participate in organizations like Uganda Unites because therein lie like-minded people with whom the sky is only the limit to reaching otherwise unattainable goals and dreams. After all, team work makes the dream work.