The goal of NGO Uganda Empowerment and Career Development, ( UECD) is to enable motivated, socially disadvantaged young Ugandans to take the future into their own hands. UECD takes particular pains to encourage women who are discriminated against, both in terms of legal rights and everyday experience, limiting their advancement in career as well as politics. After completing their career training, the young people chosen should be in a position to help others do the same. For this reason , our successfully trained graduates, for the most part with a Master's Degree, serve for five years as Junior Consultants on the Board of UECD Uganda, taking over project leadership.
With encouragement by former students and with financial aid through sponsors, novices can be helped in their career training, finding an institute or university where they can study, and in time, matriculate. The basis for this program depends on a personal relationship developing between sponsor and student. They may choose to mail, to skype, or to visit. Intercultural exchange through nurturing direct contact with these young Ugandans also has the additional aim of bringing Europeans,both parents and children, into first-hand contact with a Black African culture .
Since Ugandans live in collective societies, those who earn will support entire families with their wages. Thus, by helping a young woman or man, we are really aiding a large extended family, thereby doing considerably more to fight local poverty.
The realization of these goals is based upon certain underlying principals: equal rights for women and men within society, social justice, humane treatment, peace, and empowerment through the development of personal resources. Career training is especially necessary with youth who live “on the edge” since education is a sure way to help overcome poverty.
The founding of UECD 2004 was enabled through an original sponsorship of two students in Kampala, Uganda. Both of these students have by now successfully completed their career training and have found promising jobs. The woman has become a midwife and nurse, the man, a lawyer. After completing their training, both wished to pass on their good fortune to other youths, and to engage with their country by actually working against impoverishment. Thus, these two first graduates of NGO UECD, are now serving as Senior Consultants on the Board.
After establishing rules concerning the acceptance criteria for new students, the NGO UECD Uganda was registered, the Board expanded with the addition of a psychology professor from Makerere University in Kampala as an experienced Emiritus Consultant, and finally with the lancing of UECD Switzerland in Zürich. Our organization must not pay taxes. Because of our growing capacity in Uganda, both Boards have agreed to accept two new students each year. With this degree of growth, we feel we can guarantee the quality of personal support in Uganda. The Juniors on Board of UECD Uganda have major responsibilities: they must choose new students, following strict criteria, coach them, help them out in difficult situations, (such as aiding rural youth to find their way in an urban environment), and oversee finances. At this point in time, three students have successfully completed their program, and eight more are still studying, well on their way. The following career choices have been made: Nurse, Midwife, Attorney, Business and Administration, Resource Management, Computer Science, Commerce, Business Computing, Tourism and Travel Management.
What is so special about UECD:
We mainly support career training which, according to UNO and UNESCO regulations, is not covered by the State budget, or stipulated as necessary by UNESCO. Until the year 2015, career preparation is not considered the responsibility of the State, (as opposed to Primary school, which is.) It must therefore be covered by an outside, non-governmental NGO, or it must be paid for privately, which practically no family can afford to do.
UECD particularly encourages women, who do not have equal rights and opportunities either in politics or in career and daily life.
The students are responsible for budgeting their own stipends They are, however, helped with and monitored regularly by members of the Board. Matriculated students in our program have the task of overseeing the novices in UECD. In this way, the new students can benefit from the experience of those who have gone before.
Sponsors and Junior Sponsors in Europe are in charge of making direct personal contact and maintaining a positive relationship with the Ugandans. Intercultural exchange is a vital and explicit element of our concept.
Career training leads to financial independence on the part of young Ugandans. This independence, in the best African tradition, is carried beyond the individual to include a large extended family. Thus can the educational project UECD succeed in fighting the poverty that threatens the future of Uganda, and the entire continent of Africa.
President of UECD Switzerland
Zürich, July 2011