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Celebrities, district leaders rally to inspire young people in Adjumani to stay in school

19 July 2019
Miss Madi Brenda Abio, former Miss Uganda Phiona Bizzu, musician King David and Miss Uganda Quiin Abenakyo were on hand to share their stories with young people at the Live Your Dream Moment

“Always have a vision.  Always dream of what you want to become and that’s how you will succeed,” said Brenda Abio, winner of the 2017/18 regional beauty pageant, Miss Madi.

She was speaking to over 500 young people gathered at the Mayors Gardens in Adjumani, for the  Live Your Dream Moment, ahead of the World Population Day commemoration in Adjumani district. The Live Your Dream Moment is a component of UNFPA Uganda’s Live Your Dream campaign whereby young people interact with icons — local celebrities and influential personalities— who share their stories in order to inspire young people to live up to their potential.

 

The July 10 event, held under the theme overcoming social pressure to live your dream featured Abio and David Chol Duot "King David” a South Sudan refugee and musician from Mungula Refugee settlement.  Also in attendance were reigning Miss Uganda and Miss World Africa Quiin Abenakyo, Miss Uganda 2012/13 Phiona Bizzu and Miss Uganda 2016/17 Leah Kagasa.  They all shared with young people in attendance their stories of overcoming various challenges on their journey to becoming influential personalities.

 

The common thread of discussion was the importance of staying in school and the benefits that come from attaining an education. In addition, young people in attendance heard powerful messages about the importance of believing in themselves and the value of hard work, focus and sacrifice.

In his opening remarks, the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Richard Edema thanked UNFPA and partner Reach A Hand Uganda for organising the Live Your Dream Moment, noting that it was the first of its kind in Adjumani.  “It’s an important platform to encourage young people that just like the personalities they see today they too can make it. I encourage you to stay in school so that we can generate a crop of new leaders from among you,” he said.

 “School is the key of life. You need to finish school so that you can reach the next level in life,” King David added his voice to the message on staying in school.  “If you want to become an important person in your community you need to avoid teenage pregnancy you need to stay in school and finish your studies,” Abenakyo said.


Young people applaud as they listen to stories at the event 

 

UNFPA Representative Alain Sibenaler also weighed in on the importance of staying in school, telling young people to exercise restraint and wait to engage in sexual relationships.

 

Overcoming challenges

As a way to encourage young people to face their challenges and develop resilience, the icons also shared some of the challenges they have endured on their journey. For King David, having to leave his home country at the age of eight after losing his father was the first of many challenges he would face. He also had to drop out of school due to lack of school fees. It is from his experience, he narrated, that he started to sing as a way to express himself and deal with the hardships he faced.

 “When I first became Miss Madi there was a lot of criticism. I almost got demoralized but I said to myself ‘I’m going to show everyone that it’s my time and I’m going to shine no matter what you think’. Work hard. Stay focused,” she said to the young people.”

 

Young people speak out

In response, young people pointed out that despite the fact that they want to stay in school and make something of themselves they are hindered by inadequate support from their parents and their community.  They gave examples of parents who spend money on alcohol but are unwilling to pay school fees and also highlighted the high rates of school drop outs due to child marriage.

“As students we want to go to school, but when we ask our parents they say they do not have money. How will you sensitize them to realise the importance of going to school?” asked Ronald from Adjumani Model Senior Secondary School.

District chairperson Mr.  James Leku Pilli, encouraged young people to seek support from various leaders within the district and to report to the authorities when their right to education is being violated.  “Education is the right of a child. I want to tell you today if your parent has refused to pay school fees report and we will assist you,” he said.

Mr. Pilli concluded by thanking UNFPA for organising the event. “I’m sure you have inspired these young people and they will leave here with these messages,” he said.

The Live Your Dream Moment event was implemented with support from the Government of Denmark/ DANIDA under the Women, Adolescents and Youth Rights and Empowerment (WAY) Programme.  In addition to the inspirational story telling session, young people in attendance received information on how to prevent gender-based violence, child marriage, teenage pregnancy and HIV infection from Sr. Vicky Opia, an adolescent health specialist from Adjumani Hospital. 

 

By Martha Songa