- Event organised to recognise participants of 2018 Peer Educators’ Academy that took place at Victoria University
- It was also to acknowledge and award outstanding peer educators of 2017 class of Peer Educators’ Academy
- Reach a Hand, Uganda lauded for inclusivity and diversity in the Peer Educators’ Academy.
The youngsters started streaming through at the venue as early as 5pm, smartly dressed, some to kill, they walked with a swagger and bounce that betrayed their feelings. The wide smiles and giggles could tell there was a life-changing experience that awaited their future as they exuded confidence.
These were the over seventy university students and senior six leavers have who were recently trained and equipped with livelihoods and sexual reproductive health and rights information with a focus on young people by Reach A Hand, Uganda (RAHU).
These youth were congregating at Seven Trees restaurant in Kololo for the 2018 Peer Educators’ Academy Closing Ceremony which was to recognise participants of the 2018 Peer Educators’ Academy and also to acknowledge and award outstanding peer educators of 2017 class of the Peer Educator’s Academy.
At the ceremony that took place on Friday, 9th February 2018 also attended by parents, partners, media personnel and invited guests, the excited youth took their places at the colourful tent and straight away went into celebratory mode as they shared experiences and chatted the evening away.
Dating back to 2014, the Peer Educators’ Academy is an initiative that provides a platform to train and equip young people with in-depth information and skills on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), as well as life skills and entrepreneurship. The knowledge acquired is then passed on to other peers in the community so that informed choices are made by all in regard to their sexuality and livelihoods.
After the training, the peer educators then proceed to rigorous outreaches in different schools and communities across the country over the course of the year, sharing the acquired information and skill with their age mates wherever they go.
“We have been blessed with enthusiastic young people who were eager to learn and be ready to be ambassadors to their peers when it comes to passing on sexual reproductive health and rights information. We strongly believe we are going to have a unique class of peer educators this year.” Issa Buka, RAHU’s Programs Manager said.
As the youth reflected on these words, their deep thoughts were hastily interrupted by comedian and MC of the night Ronnie Mc Fex who welcomed the participants and invited guests to the ceremony before inviting Humphrey Nabimanya founder and Team leader RAHU to give the opening remarks in which he lauded the participants and commended them for hard work and staying focused and positive while dreaming big.
“For the first time since inception, the academy welcomed young participants with disabilities, who freely interacted, learnt and mingled with everyone else. It was a huge step forward to achieving the desired level of inclusivity for all young people.” Nabimanya noted.
The month long training that was held at Victoria University, had notable inspirational speakers like Gen. Elly Tumwine (a pan african and member of Uganda’s High Command), Dr. Maggie Kigozi (entrepreneur, mother, career woman, sportswoman and scout), Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu (gynaecologist), Ricky Rapa Thompson (Co-Founder of Safeboda and a 2017 Young Achievers Award winner for Business), officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports among others.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Guest of Honor Dr. Karusi Kiragu the Country Director of UNAIDS Uganda applauded Reach A Hand Uganda for using the Peer Educators Model to reach out to other young people across Uganda.
“There is the perceived credibility of peer educators for the target group. The fact of sharing background, interests and use of language easily facilitates the transfer of information and that young people tend to talk freely with their peers about most subjects, including sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness, reproductive health.” Dr. Karusi said.
Reach A Hand Uganda also appreciated and recognize individuals who have been instrumental to its growth as an organization right from inception in 2010. These were Kin Kariisa (CEO of Next Media Services), Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga (HIV/AIDS champion) and Dr. Maggie Kigozi.
The evening was made even better by the sultry voice of RnB singer Geosteady who enetertained guests during breaks alongside his Blackman Band. The Reach A Hand, Uganda Peer Educators Academy is supported by the Segal Family Foundation, Rutgers, and Victoria University.
During the closing ceremony, twelve outstanding peer educators together with cultural icons were given different awards in appreciation of their commitment and hard work during their time of service. The winners and the respective categories were;
Best use of social media – Frank Byaruhanga
Leadership Award – Timothy Arnold Ssessaazi
Best SRHR advocate – Leticia Namukose
Rising star Award – Barbara Namuddu
Health Journalism Award- Joseph Kato, Daily Monitor
Achievement award – Kenneth Ivan Kintu
Innovation award – GetIN team
Best overall Peer educator Female – Jaliah Nalubwama
Best overall Peer educator, Male – Yonah Odoi
Peer Educators’ choice award male – Frank Byaruhanga
Peer Educators’ choice award female – Leticia Namukose
Best cultural icon (male) – Shadrack Kuteesa
Best cultural icon (female) – Naava Grey
Star Hall of Fame Award – Dr. Maggie Kigozi, Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, Kin Kariisa