The theme of the recent International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne, Australia was “Stepping Up the Pace” – referring to the need to energize and revitalize global efforts to increase investments, collaborative research, and political commitment to bring an end to the epidemic. The conference was packed with researchers, students, non-government organizations, and individuals working to mobilize efforts and build on the current momentum of building the post-2015 agenda.
With so many innovative and engaging advocates in one setting, the conference proved to a motivational event with attendees returning home more empowered in the work they do. AIDS2014 allowed advocates from across the world a chance to meet, share work, and build new relationships for future collaboration. Yet, work to end the AIDS epidemic goes beyond biotechnology and research, recognizing the importance of cross cutting issues like gender-based violence (GBV), sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and youth empowerment.
While these topics are at the top of the international development, many are working to ensure those who have the potential to shape beyond the post-2015 agenda foster them. Inspiring the next generation of advocates is critical to bring an end to all epidemics. One man who doing just that stood out at AIDS2014, sharing his work in Uganda to not only inspire youth, but to build a world where all communities realize their full potential.
“Young people can and must be part of guiding and implementing development solutions.” – Enoch Magala
I first met Magala in the conference’s exhibition hall as he confidently introduced himself to just about every person on the floor. A sexual and reproductive health rights expert with a special interest in advocacy for economic and youth rights, he not only has the passion but the experience to back up his mission. Currently working as the Founder and Program Director for the Centre for Youth Driven Development Initiatives (CFYDDI) in Uganda, Magala has worked with organizations such as Echoes Youth Commission for the World Council of Churches, Restless Development, and the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, where he will begin his second term as the National Focal Point leader for Uganda. Recognizing that young people have enormous potential for creativity and innovation, Magala and the CFYDDI are working to involve youth in sustainable development and ensure investment in youth across Africa.
CFYDDI has a clear agenda – to inspire young people to take charge of their own issues, extend information resources and social services, and connect rural communities in Uganda to the outside world. “I want to build a more supportive environment for young people and nurture a new generation of leaders that can drive real change,” Magala stated.
Currently CFYDDI has two main projects centered around disseminating information on topical issues and concerns that affect the young people and communities at large, and equipping young people with necessary education and job skills.
- Sexual Health and Reproductive Education (SHARE) Project: SHARE works by creating awareness and understanding about sexual and reproduction health, enabling youth to make more informed decisions regarding their bodies. SHARE introduces a sexual education curriculum in upper primary, secondary schools and at the community level that incorporates innovative strategies such as role-playing, debate, creative writing, and personal experiences.
- Volunteer Doctor and Medical Electives Program: Targeted to certified physicians and volunteers, this program offers an opportunity to work in some of the health centers and hospitals in Uganda’s Wakiso District. Volunteers gain an understanding of infectious diseases and their impact on communities, as well as how to handle common medical practices in a poor resource setting. Qualified doctors gain clinical experience, as well as an opportunity to offer their expertise.
Magala speaks passionately about the mission of CFYDDI and why his current role is creating the change he has been dreaming of.
“I want to help young people make responsible choices about their health and their livelihoods, and give them the skills they need to contribute positively to society.”
With a country as young as Uganda, youth empowerment is critical to achieve development goals in full. Seventy-eight percent of the country’s population is under the age of 30, making it the second youngest population in the world. “We must provide hands-on and community field experience so that young people begin to feel comfortable as self-starters and innovators,” said Magala.
By investing in youth not only in Uganda but across Africa, Magala believes the impact of young people will stimulate the capacities of all sectors, allowing for both social and economic transformation. It is an attitude upheld by many involved in global development and by all eager to inspire the next generation of leaders, policymakers, and innovators. “We must create the opportunity and platform for the largest, most energetic group people any country can have – youth.”
Learn more about Enoch Magala and how you can get involved with CFYDDI here.
About Enoch Magala: Enoch Magala is the Founder and Program Director of the Centre For Youth Driven Developments Initiatives (CFYDDI). He received the 2011 Giraffe Hero Commendation Award, given to people who stick their neck out for the common good. Magala has participated in the National Youth Consultation on the National Development, he has served as a member of Makerere University Regional Young People’s Advisory group (YAG) in the development and implementation of Young Empowered and Health (Y.E.A.H) campaign partnership and is a Trainer of Trainers in the “Be a Man” campaign.
About CFYDDI: Centre For Youth Driven Development Initiatives arose out of the desire to inspire young people to take charge of their own issues, extend opportunities, information resources, and social services, connecting rural communities to the outside world, and scaling down HIV/AIDS prevalence’s as well as improving the livelihoods amongst the youthful generations in previously under served communities of Uganda. CFYDDI is an independent and equal opportunities CBO dedicated to empowering young people, organizations, institutions and communities at the grass-root level.
Cover photo c/o CFYDDI