14 September 2023
Hello there, I'm Kalinda Jamada Musa, a 22-year-old U-Reporter. U-Report is UNICEF’s flagship platform that empowers young people and the community at large to contribute and have a say on the issues that matter to them. I've been passionately advocating for the rights of young people in my community since 2019. It's been an incredible journey, that recently led me to Kabale for the International Youth Day Celebrations.
In 2019, I was selected to represent adolescents on the UNICEF Evaluation Reference Group, composed of the Government of Uganda officials and UN agency representatives. It was created to review the UNICEF Uganda Country programme— 2016 to 2020. Since then, I have been inspired to work tirelessly to rally fellow young people through U-Report to make positive changes in their communities. Through U-Report, we've organized various events, from promoting mental health awareness to child vaccination campaigns, and even had a hand in designing programmes tailored for the youth like Fundoo, a digital skilling platform, which offers 21st-century skills and job readiness resources.
The 16th of August 2023 marked a special day as I embarked on a journey from Kampala to Kabale, a picturesque drive of around seven to eight hours. My destination? The International Youth Day commemoration event in Kabale District which was graced by none His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda. I arrived a two days earlier to connect with local youth in Kabale before the big day.
The journey itself was a delight, taking me through the stunning landscapes and lush green hills of the western Rift Valley. As night fell on Wednesday, I found myself in Kabale. A bit hungry, I discovered that you could find the most delicious Rolex, a Ugandan street food, at any hour in Kabale – a true culinary delight.
The next day was filled with excitement as I, together with a UNICEF staffer, Rashid Sekalema reached out to a student leader from Kabale University, with whom we had been in touch online. He informed us about a student bazaar at the university and invited us to speak about U-Report.
We gladly accepted and shared the U-Report initiative with the students. It was heartening to see that some of them were already familiar with it and had become U-Reporters themselves. We also introduced them to the U-Report skilling digital platform Fundoo, something the students were eager to explore and learn about.
Friday was the pinnacle of my journey – the International Youth Day commemoration at Kigezi Hill Primary School. At the event, young leaders like myself had the incredible opportunity to share their dreams and aspirations with the president through the Chairperson of the National Youth Council who presented insights from a U-Report poll that we participated in where according to the poll, quality education, zero poverty, and good health and well-being were the most significant sustainable development goals for young people.
However, the real highlight of the event was the launch of the UN Adolescent and Youth Joint Programme, officiated by President Museveni. A staggering 22 million dollars was pledged to fund programs aimed at empowering young people. This funding will equip us with the skills we need to shape our lives and contribute effectively to our community's development. It's a game-changer, one that promises increased access to resources that will support the development and success of young people in Uganda.
And now, here I am, back in Kampala, overwhelmed with positivity and bursting with great news. This journey has been a testament to the power of young voices, collaboration, and the potential we have, to shape a brighter future. I shall continue my campaign to advocate for more funding for youth programmes and inform other young people in my community about programmes that are created to increase our chances of having a successful future.