Educate!’s successful expansion to northern Uganda depends on people who are from the community and for the community. For this reason, Educate! has spent the last several months investing heavily in hiring the management team and staff who will lead our expansion into northern Uganda, all of whom are from the region. They have seen how destructive violence can be, they understand the deep consequences war has on a community, and they can directly relate to the youth they’re working to impact.
Educate!’s new Program Coordinator for northern Uganda is Lawrence Komakech. Lawrence is from Gulu, northern Uganda’s largest city. He is extremely passionate about and proud of his home community while also acknowledging that it has a complex and painful past. Lawrence’s Gulu roots are exactly why he is the perfect man to help lead the Northern Expansion. Lawrence says that for a community that has gone through such collective hardship, trust is an essential factor. “For the community to really own this program, there must be high level of community participation and engagement, trust, consistency, honesty on both sides, and a belief or a feasible feeling that the program is impactful. A program can best be implemented by people who really understand and appreciate the needs of the people, the culture of the community they serve, the environment, the politics, and the unique history of the region."
With the expansion team in place, Educate! continues to actively recruit partner schools who want to bring the Educate! Experience to their students. In addition, Youth Leaders for the region will attend a two-week induction beginning September 21st, after which they will recruit, select, and train Mentors. In January, the new Mentors will attend an intensive induction to prepare for the first term of the program. This all leads up to the program launch in January 2016, when we expect to be working in 80 additional schools and reaching over 25,000 additional youth in northern Uganda alone.