BETTY KAGORO, 2009 iLEAP Fellow, UGANDA
Teen Empowerment Uganda (TEU)
First, I want to thank all of you who support iLEAP and make it such a wonderful community and powerful program. Through my experience in iLEAP, I have much more clarity about my passion in life–to empower young people to make positive choices that will enable them to live powerful, productive lives. In Uganda, many young people do not see that they have the capacity to build their dreams and strengthen their communities. I started Teen Empowerment Uganda (TEU) to provide a space where young people can interact, discuss topics such as “changing bodies” and HIV/AIDS with peers and allow them to see themselves as vital community members.
What I learned during the iLEAP program is that it is important to make an organization sustainable and to market TEU’s mission. I have been so grateful for the ideas, moral support, technical and strategic guidance that I have received from iLEAP so far. I have also realized that I have to adapt what I have learned to the setting in Uganda. Here, compliance issues can limit room for innovation and creativity and I have to think around obstacles. I would love to partner more with U.S. based organizations with similar missions to learn from their experiences, adopt what is relevant and customize to our own setting.
I am determined to make TEU a model organization in Uganda and to have the programs available to all youth. To help gain traction, I have this idea of starting a Marching Band with the youth to not only give them a powerful new way to interact, but to draw attention and rally the entire community around youth empowerment.