Why we need more changemaking youth in our world

Dogarra7 years ago in late 2007, a young boy from a remote Nigerian village said to me in Hausa “I don’t like my life in this village.  It is the same every day.  I know things can be different, but I don’t know how to change them.  Please help me.”  Thus began the long story of the seven year development of the Butterfly Project in Uganda.  This boy was 15 and clearly very adept, he had been going to a free Nigerian school, yet could not write his name and had rarely even held a pen.  His latent potential was immense, yet there was no project or strategy to empower him.

Access to education in Africa and elsewhere is rising and huge progress has been made with a higher percentage of children reaching the end of their Primary education than ever before.  However, this statistic does not record many of the hidden issues about education:

a) Curriculum is often based in the past, not the present changed world, and there is little practical application of knowledge learnt that is feasible in a school environment, where often there are 70+ children

b) Large class sizes make it very difficult to manage classrooms without the threat of caning or teachers that are very frightening for children.  Children who like to speak their ideas are often ridiculed or threatened with punishment for “disrupting the class”.  So children learn not to rock the boat, when at school, even though the country they live in is dramatically different from the one they are being taught about.

c) Free education does not exist anywhere, except for those who are sponsored and even in this situation, many sponsorship schemes mean that families still need to contribute to the costs.  This means that children often attend school sporadically, as they lack needed materials or fees and are regularly thrown out from school, even when sponsored.  This leads to learned truanting behaviour and unreliability as a learned character trait.

d) Quality of education is measured differently in Uganda where I have most experience, as it is based almost purely on exam results.  Exams are used to lever fees out of parents and pupils are threatened with poor reports if they don’t pay fees or even having to repeat a year, when they are perfectly capable of moving up to the next year.  Ethics and character are rarely if ever measured, as pointed out in the letter to children by a Lancashire head teacher in the UK – so the problem is worldwide, though very prominent in Uganda.

There are other issues, but I just wanted to demonstrate that traditional school education does not create changemakers and there are very many reasons for this.  Thus, we need new strategies, especially in those countries where you look around as a social entrepreneur and see things that need addressing like:

i) Community cohesion

ii) Lack of entrepreneurship ability

iii) Failure of youth to realise their potential

iv) Lack of awareness of how to use computers and the internet to find solutions to problems

v) High crime from disenchanted older teenagers, who have failed to find a job

vi) Fear of becoming ill and not being treated.

All of the above point to lack of proper engagement with youth, yet we know that young people are anxious about their future.  They do not want to be involved in the corruption they see around them.  They dislike being bored.  They fear being failures and living a life of poverty.

Some few children are able to see things differently.  Mercy’s blog of a couple of year’s back showed how she felt that she needed to be strong and be ready to shape the society she and other youth wanted, which is so important in our age of rapid technological development.  Mercy is one of 15 young people, who are Butterfly Project members, who have already started to change the world.  Here’s some examples how:

Francis2Francis Ssuuna has devised a training programme called Vision 4 Change, which teaches youth about how to develop the vision to spot social projects and then how to go about implementing these projects.  He believes that youth only should teach youth how to do this and this programme has now been spread to hundreds of young people in Uganda.

IMG_1196Eunice Namugerwa developed a poultry business while still at school and spoke about it to inspire other young people at TEDx Kampala.  She also contributes to local community cohesion and children’s talent development with her music and dance project for children and youth.

SamuelSamuel Lubangakene believed that children needed more than just basic food in schools and devised a way to encourage Ugandan schools to vary diet.  More recently, he has devised and implemented a project which uses videogames to expand the problem-solving ability of young people in the slums

Nancy2Nancy Lakot sees girls living in the village as her personal challenge.  She wants to empower them and show them a different option to the life that their mothers are leading.  Most recently she has been training girls in computing, but she uses every mechanism she knows to encourage young girls to reach their potential – such as drama, debates and even song-writing.

Charles2Charles Obuk has been a pioneer in the development of reading ability amongst children in villages and has devised his own reading method.  This year he has launched a reading library project and we are working with him to implement a range of reading libraries in rural Northern Uganda, based at schools.  Reading is never more crucial than now, when youth will need to read english to benefit from the knowledge the internet brings.

Every member of the Butterfly Project is an influencer and has a significant circle of youth that they interact with and inspire.  Each one works with a different community in Uganda and will take their inspiration to wherever they are needed.  In many countries in the world, young people may have a voice, but they have little opportunity to create change because adults believe they already know the answers.  In Uganda, youth are often better placed to provide solutions problems in their community than their parents, who have never had an education.  Young people have the energy and, if they have the vision, I believe they can realise it far more readily than in a country like the UK and we have proved this with these early projects from our Pioneer Butterfly members.

Cohort 3 CompilationThis year we have discovered 15 new young Butterflies, that need training and we need support for them to become changemakers in their communities.  Nine of these are from remote rural village areas and six are from very disadvantaged slum districts.  We need £45 per month for each member to carry out their training and this includes:

a) Education costs

b) Boarding costs at the Chrysalis Centre in Kireka

c) All training costs and vision development activities

More information about how you can support us is at this link.  You can either support with a one off donation or commit to a regular support each month.  You don’t need to support the whole £45/month, any regular donation will go into the Butterfly 2015 Fund.

Often sponsorship goes only to those in the right place at the right time or it is suggested that education alone will be enough, when we know that education alone rarely inspires changemakers – it gives many of the tools, but does not train children to have a positive mindset  that they can be the ones to be the change.  The Butterfly Project fills in the gaps by training Ethics, International Citizenship, Problem-solving, Activism, ICT, Leadership, Project Management, Accountability and Transparency and many more areas conducive to creating visionary world citizens.  This is what the young man in Nigeria wanted, so we do our best to provide it.

Birmingham Auction to Support New Butterflies

CYEN is to hold a special auction 10th January to support the training fees and education of the 15 new Butterfly members joining the project this month.

Lot viewing starts at 9.00am and the bidding starts at 10.30am.  We’d like to sell everything on that day, so there will be some amazing bargains to be had!

The event is at Small Heath Baptist Church, Jenkins Street, Birmingham B10 0QH.

Example lots can be seen at this link

Charity Auction2

15 New Butterflies Joining the Project this month!

Cohort 3 Compilation

Sharon is 14 and from rural Gulu.  Sharon is a talented dancer and already runs a girls’ group in her village.

Sarah is 15 and also from Gulu.  She is interested in drama and passionate about education for girls.

Patrick is 13 and from Acholi Quarter.  Originally from Arua, Patrick is very sharp and has been running a games project for other children in the slum.

Daniel is 13 and from rural Gulu.  His passion is sanitation and he plans to sell chickens to build toilets in his village.

Shadia is 13 and from Kisenyi slum in Kampala.  She is new to us and qualified brilliantly at our recent recruitment.

Agnes is 12 and from Kiganda slum area.  She is a comic and loves to make people laugh and is very good at this, amongst other things.

Sam is 13 and from rural Gulu.  He is very capable and creative and we expect him to be a great problem-solv er as he develops on the project.

Junior is 14 and a thoughtful boy from rural Gulu.  He would like to see him flourish in ICT over the next few months, as this will help him achieve good results at school and on our project.

Daisy is 14 and from Kisenyi.  She performed very well in our testing process and is very confident, which is important for girls growing up in slum areas.

Barbara is 14 and from Acholi Quarter.  She already has projects under her belt as an Ashoka Youth Venturer, supporting abused children in the slum area.

Brian is 15 and from rural Gulu.  He lives in an area starved of water and other resources and has made it his aim to bring water to his community.

Beckham is 12 and a football nut! (as might be expected).  However, he has understood the power of football as an outreach methodology and set up a project to engage with youth not going to school using football.

Dorothy is 14 and speaks English very well, considering her upbringing in rural Gulu.  She is new to us but we hope to see great things from her, as she develops.

Reagan is 15 and performed very well in our North recruitment.  He lives in rural Gulu and we expect him to move from strength to strength during this year.

Kenneth is 13 and also the editor of Acholi Quarter Youth News.  He is interested in journalism and puzzles and has included creative writing into his most recent newspapers.

If you would like to support them financially or otherwise in their training, and education this year, please contact me at socentafrica@gmail.com


My name is Ojimam Ivan.

I am 13 years old.

The neighbour is basically what every one in the world needs as the saying no man is an island we need each other to live happily .The world is loosing many children to the ground it’s just because we still luck what to call a good neighbour to them .The world can be a better place to live in if we all knew our neighbours.

There are still millions of children not only in Africa but in the whole world who don’t have who to call a neighbour that they can look at for support and care. Their parents only are not enough that is why in Christianity there is what we call a God parent to each child .So you and me can offer a hand to be a good neighbour to them .

And let it be MY DREAM MY CHANCE “if we all have the same dream of seeing a better tomorrow for them then it’s our chance to make it ’’.

  Just as it’s in the bible when angels told a message to  Abraham .9 months from now your wife Sarah will have a child .she laughs cause it was like a dream to her to have a child at her age “Genesis 18:9-15”

Everything is a dream before it becomes a reality so every dream deserves a chance to become a reality .just as the old say, if you stop to dream you stop to live because we live to achieve our dreams in life.

There are many questions that same times we fail to know who should be asked and who should give us the answers to them so we remain wondering what to do with the questions .you might have all seen this happen in your homes, families, within your communities and within our streets.

Why should a child fail to go to school? Why should a child be given work which is not of her age and why should a child be seen on streets begging yet the rest are in schools all this happens in our communities .

For long have asked myself why are some people rich and some poor .why is there a better school and a poor school and why is there two sides in one world the better side and a bad side and why can’t we all fight for a better world.

Have you ever asked yourself what have I done just once for the good of my community how many times have I been a good neighbour for people around me?

It always hurts me and even you I belive to see a dream of every child die at a attender age and somehow somewhere we have given a hand in killing that dream by not being a good neighbour.

The world belongs to you, to me and to everyone angels will never come down to do what you and me are meant to fix so it’s my duty it’s our concern that we become good neighbours to this world especially to the children that need our help.

so when we get to be good neighbours to the children around us it my dream and my chance you plant to their future. when I read the stories of my hero Nelson Mandela he had a dream of seeing a nation where both the black and the white could live together and he had a chance to see it happen and today we are a witness to that. so am inspired that together we can work for my dream my chance to change the lives of the children that need our help.

It is a dream of every child to live but how can we say that every dream is achieved yet there are still dying because of diseases like malaria.

It is dream for every child in Africa especially to have a good and a better life but how can we say that a dream is achieved yet children still starve with hunger of a meal a day.

It is a dream for every child to study but how can we say it is achieved yet out of every ten children it is only one who might complete up to university.

In summery my dream my chance is one step walk into my project THE NEIGHBOUR  that has an objective to reach to every child that needs my help, your help our help as  afriend

Thank you









My blog for the East Africa Youth Changemaker Conference – Peter Akena (16)


Basing on the trip to Narobi for the Ashoka youth venture camp, I learned and understand very many things.

I met successful  Ashoka fellows who discussed with us some of the projects they were doing and at the age they started their venture, i met fellows from Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda
They also discussed with us how we can develop our project, challenges facing individual’s project as well as some solutions, we met and shared with Youth Venturers from different countries and i got to know the project they were doing
As pertaining the four pillars of change making:
we discussed qualities of a good leader which i cannot noiw list them, the types of a leader, challenges leader may face and how to tackle them
team work is very essential  as working together produce a better outcome than personal working and decision making
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
story help to express inner feelings and emotion and make it easier for some one to unsterstand you than telling going straight to the point

How to participate in the Open Run in Kampala 14th September 2014

IMG_4592 - cropped

The Slum Run is an annual event hosted here at Chrysalis Centre in Kireka-Kampala. Generally the Slum run is hosted to support Children who have been deprived of Education, food and their rights. 


The money we get through the slum helps to keep these Children in school for a year, helps to keep them away from the stone quarry for a year and helps them buy good food and cloths.


This year’s Slum run is going to take place on 14th September 2014. I am so excited to say that this year we have an open run. Therefore I would like to invite all the people to come and take part in the Slum Run 2014, because your involvement will help us create the change we seek and most excitingly it will change someone’s life.


Entrance is Sh:5000 – you can wear your own T-shirt, or purchase a special Slum Run 2014 T shirt for 15,000 shillings IN ADVANCE.  We will  be providing water and glucose during the run. We are also giving a prize of 50,000 shillings to the overall winner of the Open Run.

 The Run will be started off by a special guest. at 11.00am, so please be at the Chrysalis Centre for registration by 10.00am.  For directions, please call me on 0788 532844 or Alex on 0774 527024.


Francis Ssuuna,

Founder of the Slum Run Since “2012”

Facebook. Slum Run Uganda.

Email: ssuunafrancis@yahoo.com     

Cell Phone: 0788532844.

Slum Run 2014 – How can I participate in the Birmingham Run 21st Sept 2014 2.00pm?

The Slum Run in Birmingham, Small Heath is approaching fast and here is the information you need to take part.

Firstly, you’ll need to register ahead of the day – 21st September.  Just write to Ben at socentafrica@gmail.com and he will send you the necessary papers.  The cost of registration will be £15 for adults, £12 for youths and for this you will receive a special Slum Run 2014 T-shirt, to collect on the day – please specify the size you need, when registering.  Deadline for registering will be Wednesday 17th September.


Alternatively send a cheque made payable to CYEN to Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network, 31 Prince of Wales Lane, Yardley Wood, Birmingham, B 14 4LB

CYEN is a registered charity no. 1158392

You can start finding sponsors straightaway by downloading a sponsorship form here.

You can pick up your registration documents and T shirt on the day.

Please come to Small Heath Baptist Church by 13.00pm on 21st September 2014.  There is a car park opposite the church that can be used, which is patrolled.  The church is in Jenkins Street, Small Heath.  Click here for a map.

The Slum Run circuit is 2km in length and you can run or walk up to 5 circuits.  There will be some serious runners, as well as some casual walkers and the full run will be 10,000m and will be a race.

Slum Run Route and Instructions