Global Kimeeza II
Cross posted to the Kimeeza II website.
Early Wednesday morning, a group of eager American undergraduates arrive in Kampala for a two week travel conference called the Kimeeza II: The Role of Youth in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda. This is the fourth Global Youth Partnership for Africa (GYPA) trip I've helped lead in the last 12 months and I'm happy to be a part of it. The two week program, in Kampala and Gulu, will bring together American and Ugandan youth interested in a rebuilt and reconciled northern Uganda. These programs are innovative because they are travel/education hybrids; there is the experiential component of seeing a brand new place but also the education/practitioner component of engaging in first hand issues of community building and reconciliation.
I think this particular trip will be fascinating because it is the first GYPA program since the cessation of hostilities in northern Uganda, which means the people of northern Uganda, though inherently skeptical after 20 years of off and on war, have more to hope for and work for then ever before. One of the things I like about these programs is the energy that is created both among Americans who generally have not been involved with Uganda issues in the past, and with the Ugandan youth, many of whom have made advocating for war-effected peoples their life's work. The Ugandans are energized because their work is validated by enthusiastic and optimistic outsiders, and the Americans bring fresh insight and new perspective into difficult community challenges.
As a reminder of how unique a time this is in northern Uganda, here is a New Vision article (not available online) on New Year's celebrations from the North:
"For the first time in 20 years, the Acholi sub-region in northern Uganda ushered in the new year peacefully. In Gulu, there were fireworks at two seperate places and people dance to the morning hours. In Unyama displaces people's camp. 7km from Gulu, a former LRA commander, Onen Kamdulu, staged a thrilling disco performance to excited revellers."
Continue to check the Kimeeza II website for photos, blogs and the occasional podcast.