Graduands representatives cutting the cake at the event (PHOTO/Courtesy).

KAMPALA – The Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum (UMYDF) has passed out fresh graduates for the fourth time under the Katwe Skills Centre in Mengo.

The graduation that took place at the skills centre in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb had youth graduate in different vocational courses that will see them become job creators and not seekers.

They graduated in hairdressing and barbering, domestic electronics & wiring, tailoring, fashion & design plus computer and phone repair.

Mr Shauki Bukomeko who represented the male students said they all worked hard to get to the milestone and their efforts have not gone down the drain.

He expressed their gratitude to UMYDF for having taken them on the skills acquisition spree.

“Through our stay at the center, we have managed to change from the violence nature we had when coming in. Our skill set is now visible and so is the transformation. The internship program gave us a chance to put in practice what we learnt, this helped us build contacts,” he said.

Bukomeko also thanked UMYDF for the guidance and counselling and business discipline instilled in them over time.

“It will help us become good entrepreneurs. Thank you UMYDF and FinnChurch Aid for the opportunity.”

Ms Sharon Tasuta who represented the girls thanked UMYDF for coming up with a skills development program which she said is beneficial for the youth.

She thanked the administrators and teachers for guiding and steering them for greater heights.

“The skills impacted in us are going to make us great people. My fellow students, the journey has just begun for us to live our dreams and impact society.”

Abdallah Hussein Osman an alumni of the center urged the graduands to carry on with what they have learnt at the center. He asked them to sell their skills set acquired in their locality and opportunities will come from there.

Hussein asked the graduands not to betray their teachers and the people that have impacted on them so they use the gained skills to impact on others too.

Ms Mariam Nansamba the Woman Councillor Mengo Parish who was the guest of honour congratulated the graduands upon the milestone and urged them to keep seeking for knowledge since learning never ends.

She commended them for leaving behind their not-so-good backgrounds to focus on learning and acquire a skill.

Nansamba thanked UMYDF for changing the face of Islam by choosing to impact not only the Muslims but also people in the different religious affiliations.

“Thank you UMYDF, for showing that you condemn terrorism. Muslims are seen as terrorists. Giving youth regardless of their religious affiliations a chance to earn skills is something that is really commendable. I pledge my continuous support to you whenever I am called upon,” she said.

The woman councillor noted that with such skills impacted in the youth, it will be hard for them to take part in acts of violent extremism.

Katwe Skills Center was started by Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum (UMYDF) headed by Ahmed Hadji together with Hassan Ndugwa

They offer courses in fashion and design, photography, Art craft, electrical installation, mechanical engineering and hairdressing to youth in slum areas at free cost.  The project is funded by Finn Church Aid and Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

According to Ndugwa, they came up with the idea of starting up a skills center for the youth living in the slums after they survived the 2010 twin bombings.

Some of the outstanding performers being rewarded at the event (PHOTO/Courtesy).

He shared that they recognised young people with negative attitude needed to be given a sense of purpose and attention such that wrongdoers do not take advantage of them to lure them into terrorism.

Ndugwa called upon all youth at risk in Katwe to reach out to them to benefit from the training at free cost.

“Our first graduation started in 2018 and this is the 4th time running. Over 650 youth have been trained in several skill sets over time. We are still committed to continue training the youth to help them earn a living with skills,” he said.

He shared that at UMYDF, they have a peace-building module in whatever they do and thanked teachers for the job well done as it is not easy teaching the youth.

“Skilling the youth is just a small portion of what our organisation does. I thank the mentors for giving these youths the opportunity and skilling chance. For the graduands, put to practice what you have learnt. Not every graduate gets a job but sell yourself to the communities and be good ambassadors of UMYDF wherever you go.”