- February 7, 2019
- Posted by: Shirley Kandabu
- Category: Blog
My passion for empowering the unemployed and underemployed stems from two formative experiences. The first, was when a young man attempted to steal my phone was struck dead by oncoming traffic and the second was the passing of my father. A few weeks before he passed away he spoke to me about what sort of life I wanted to live and urged me to “Make my life count for something”
Eventually I took his advice into consideration and joined an innovation hub that offered alternative ways to address the burgeoning youth unemployment challenge in Uganda. I finally thought to myself that I making my life count for something. However, my satisfaction was short-lived.
When I joined the Young and Emerging African Leaders Project a little less than a year ago I was disengaged, unmotivated, very very very tired, lost and ready to throw in the towel. I dreaded the thought of doing my job for another day.
Throughout our seminars our readings highlighted the ongoing struggles for leaders both past and present and placed a spotlight on inspiring the inclusion of young voices across a spectrum of ideas, cultures and contexts in order to influence leadership and practice for young people in order to make positive significant contributions.
I was reminded once again that;
“I am the voice of my generation
If not me, then who?
If not now, then when?”
I quit my job and set out to compensate for both aforementioned personal experiences by setting up a slum based initiative called icreate the seeks to redefine the unemployment challenge for underserved communities in Uganda. Working within the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Uganda.
I witnessed first-hand how socio-economic disadvantages can hamper one’s trajectory in life and I observed how underserved and unprivileged communities are continuously left out of cycle of innovation leaving them unable to compete on a national scale and global stage as they are unable to think critically or solve problems creatively. We seek to make the capacity to create and transform available to all, as well as to increase the society’s own ability to innovate and create jobs.
Joining the YELP Fellowship early in my career was probably the best decision I could have made – it offered a unique opportunity and perspective that is unrivalled and brings a humility in the face of challenges that young leaders are bound to face in trying to address societal issues. All the while, allowing for a better understanding of personal shortcomings.
I am continuously inspired by the Fellows, Alumni and Faculty. If their grit, tenacity and resourcefulness is any indication of Africa’s future leaders I can honorably state that “Africa will not remain a story of potential that never materializes”