January 30, 2009

Photo Gallery: January

Every month, AGYA will post a photo gallery to show you what has been happening at our facility. We hope to exhibit constructive images of African youth as we show you how AGYA is positively impacting the lives of women and children in Uganda!

January 28, 2009

AGYA Prepares to Launch Free Lunch Program in February

On Sunday, February 1st, AGYA will launch our free lunch program, thereby providing Ugandan children with a nutritious lunch. Led by AGYA Youth Leaders Happy Namutebi and Sarah Mulekatete, the menu includes rice, beans, and cabbage. Although the menu is mainly vegetarian, AGYA will offer a meat dish twice a month.

As part of this program, AGYA also provides children with clean, fresh bottled drinking water. As the world water crisis has evinced, access to clean drinking water is a luxury for many Africans living in poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa, thousands of children are dying from preventable and easily treatable diseases like diarrhea due to contaminated water. The leaders of AGYA understand the urgency of the global water crisis and AGYA is honored to be meeting such a basic, yet crucial need in the lives of children in Uganda.

Since opening our doors on January 1st, AGYA has registered 50 children between the ages of 4 and 18. According to the registration information provided by the parents, the average household has 5 kids. The families in Nabulagala have expressed their gratitude for the AGYA Free Lunch program, which will relieve the burden of buying and preparing lunch for large families. Not only will this program satisfy the hunger of kids, but it will also save time and money for the parents, most especially the mothers.

Using a charcoal stove, the average mother spends 3 hours preparing a meal of rice and beans for a family of 7 (5 children and 2 parents). This time includes fetching water, soaking and cleaning beans, making fire with the charcoal stove, picking tiny stones out of rice, chopping vegetables, and washing dishes. Thus, the mothers in the community that AGYA serves are elated that they will not have to worry about feeding their kids during the lunch hour.

Please check back soon for photos documenting the successful implementation of AGYA’s Free Lunch Program.

To make a tax-deductible donation to support our Free Lunch (and Clean Water) Program, please send a check to:
African Millennium Foundation
c/o Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association
468 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210

(checks should be made payable to “African Millennium Foundation” and have “AGYA Free Lunch Program—Uganda” written in the memo line of the check to indicate the purpose of your contribution)

AGYA Plans To Clean Up The Community With Monthly Charity Project

Introduced by AGYA youth leader, Sarah Mulekatete, AGYA will transform Nabulagala by conducting monthly clean-ups of the community. Although the AGYA facility is clean and sanitary, the streets and walk-ways outside of our gates are littered with trash, debris, contaminated water, broken glass, dirty plastic bags, and sewage.

Once a month, over 30 youth participants will take to the streets equipped with brooms and dust bins. Representing AGYA, they will form cleaning crews of 4 or 5 people who will collect trash to help our community look clean and presentable.

We hope to make our presence felt in the community by introducing positive initiatives such as the charity clean-up and the free lunch program. The first clean-up is scheduled for February 22nd.

Poetic Justice

AGYA Girls Use Spoken Word Poetry To Share Their Thoughts With Their Community And The World by Divinity Barkley

As the Director of the AGYA Girls Program, I transferred my love of spoken word poetry to the youth of Uganda that I came to teach and empower. I quickly found that the teenage girls who become mute in front of a crowd of more than 3 people, have something significant to say and they have used poetry as the avenue to share their thoughts with the world.

After several writing sessions where the girls learned basic rhyme patterns and skills to perfect the flow of their poetry, the poetry class decided to take their art form to a new level by hosting weekly Poetry Exhibitions, which give the girls an opportunity to perform their poems in front of AGYA youth and the community, at large.

ABOVE: AGYA Girls Participant, 14 year old Shamim Naluyima, performs her poem "Tears Of A Woman"

So far, AGYA has hosted 3 poetry exhibitions which are free and open to the public, and more than 20 girls have overcome their fear of public speaking to take the stage and recite their poems from memory (I forbid any of her students to read from their notebooks). At every session, AGYA provides freshly squeezed mango juice to all of the poets and attendees as a special treat. After each exhibition, the audience is invited to share feedback that will help the girls become better performers.

ABOVE: The audience enjoys fresh fruit between performances.

BELOW: The audience relaxes in between performances.

Although I have served as the leader of the poetry class, the lessons will not stop after I leave Uganda. Classes and weekly exhibitions will continue under the tutelage of standout poetry student Happy Namutebi.

The girls have also been working diligently to finalize their poems which will be published in the 1st edition of a book of poetry and short stories. Featuring the poetry and short stories of 12 dynamic girls, the revenue from the books will be used to pay school fees for the young poets who have worked so hard to become better writers and performers. As a sneak peek, here are two amazing poems written by AGYA students Shamirah Naiga and Sarah Mulekatete.

The Butchery by Shamirah Naiga (16 years old)

Why set it next to my home?
Moreover, I am a vegetarian
Blood smells so bad
Especially in the mornings
City Council, come to my rescue
I do not like the sight
Of fresh meat or blood
It reminds me of a recent accident
The local chief defends
“The butchery is important,” he says
“it employs residents”
However, I do not benefit at all

The Love of Mom by Sarah Mulekatete (18 years old)

Her name is like a sweet flower
Her laughter is like music
That comes from mysterious power
Always a smile on her face
Her motherly and tender hands have nurtured me
During my kid days, she would teach me to sing
Teach me to pray, to love, and give
Oh mom, you are a winter
For I will one day play to shame role
But mom, will you be there?
The love you give me will never die
An angel disguised as a mother
Teaching me only the right way
Many have tried to break her
But nothing can shake her
The politician of good virtues, my sweet mom
But reach unto the sky
She brought love into my heart
And showed me how to give
The joy is bound in the echoes of her laughter
God knew she had to be my mom
Now that I know what loving is
I will teach others too


Students Emerge As Leaders In Their Community Through AGYA

Among AGYA’s core objectives are our commitment to organizational and financial sustainability and the empowerment of Uganda’s next generation who will lead the nation and the continent of Africa towards the full promise of the 21st Century.

Unlike many nonprofit organizations working in Africa that rely disproportionately on international volunteers, AGYA’s volunteer corps is primarily made up of Ugandan youth and young adults who feel passionately about shaping the future of their communities and their nation.

AGYA currently has 7 youth leaders who have proven to be talented, smart, passionate, creative, and innovative. The youth who make up the basis of AGYA’s leadership team are:

18 year old Sarah Mulekatete

18 year old Nelson Kazibwe

18 year old Happy Caitrine Namutebi

16 year old Shamirah Nansubuga

17 year old Aisha Kyebakuwadde

18 year old Richard Bugeza

17 year old Kenneth Golooba Mulinde

All of the students, except Sarah who will begin her studies at Makerere University this Fall, are still enrolled in secondary school.

Sarah teaches English to youth and she also assists AGYA Co-Founder, Abraham Matovu, with the Textiles and Fashion Design Program.

Nelson and Richard teach English, handwriting, spelling, and mathematics to primary school-aged children.

Pending the successful launch of the AGYA Computer Lab, Shamirah will serve as the instructor of the computer skills classes. Shamirah also leads the AGYA photography program

Aisha leads the arts and crafts and jewelry-making projects that are ongoing at the AGYA House.

Happy Namutebi teaches poetry classes and English to elder women in Nabulagala and the surrounding community. Sarah and Happy also facilitate the AGYA Free Lunch Program.

Specializing in African Batik prints, Kenny leads the AGYA Art Program.

As AGYA develops, we hope to provide more leadership, training and job opportunities to Ugandan youth who will maintain our programs and lead AGYA, Uganda, and Africa into the future.


AGYA Students Participate in Canadian Volunteer Jessica Dexter’s “Dance For Life” Program

As part of our on-going commitment to the arts, 10 AGYA students are participating in “Dance For Life,” a program implemented by Canadian volunteer, Jessica Dexter. Held every Monday and Wednesday at Uganda’s National Theatre, AGYA students between the ages of 14 and 18 are learning basic skills in jazz, hip-hop, breakdancing, tap, and contemporary African dance.

Dance For Life Program Instructor and Vancouver dance instructor, Jessica Dexter, says "she believes the power of dance is transformative because through dance, the body-mind connection is strengthened, achieving healthy balance. It's also a way for kids to use self-expression. They are orphans who have been through so much. I truly believe that dance acts as an artistic outlet for people to express themselves and let out any of their pent-up feelings they might have. Dance has a direct connection with emotion."It is also, she says, "a powerful way to increase self-esteem" when performed (quote taken from Jessica's Journey of A Gypsy BlogSpot available online at http://journeyofagypsy.blogspot.com/ )

Not only has “Dance For Life” given our students the wonderful opportunity to learn dance and choreography from a trained dancer, but it has also given them a chance to explore Kampala’s city center, a rare opportunity for some of them whose families are too poor to give them the 500 Ugandan shillings (about 30 cents) for transportation from the village of Nabulagala to Kampala city. On Monday, January 26th, after attending the first dance lesson, 16 year old AGYA student Shamira Nansubuga returned to the AGYA House full of excitement. Eager to show AGYA co-founders Divinity and Abraham what she learned, Shamira happily performed the dance routine she had learned earlier that day as part of the 6 hour, intensive dance training session.

AGYA is excited that our students have been given an opportunity to explore their talents, and we look forward to embracing new opportunities that will surely arise in the future.

To learn more about Dance For Life, visit http://www.innovativecommunities.org/ or http://journeyofagypsy.blogspot.com/


January 16, 2009

AGYA Co-Founder, Divinity Barkley, To Attend Clinton Global Initiative Conference in Austin, Texas, February 13-15

After being in Uganda for the past 5 months, Amagezi Gemaanyi Co-Founder, Divinity Barkley, will return to the United States to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in Texas from February 13-15, 2009.

Hosted by Former United States President, Bill Clinton, the CGIU conference was created to "engage the next generation of leaders" to discuss solutions to pressing global issues.

Divinity is excited about the opportunity to represent AGYA and connect with other young leaders, activists, and policy makers who are committed to sustainable, global change.


Contributions to AGYA Are Now Tax-Deductible

AGYA Announces Partnership with the African Millennium Foundation

Taking the first step towards their goal of becoming organizationally and financially sustainable, the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA) is proud to announce their strategic partnership with the African Millennium Foundation.

This partnership means that AGYA is being fiscally hosted by the African Millennium Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to helping effective grassroots organizations like AGYA become organizationally and financially sustainable.

All donations sent to the African Millennium Foundation on behalf of AGYA are eligible for tax exemption.
Supporters can send donations to:
African Millennium Foundation
c/o Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA)
468 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210

Donations should be made payable to "African Millennium Foundation" and have "AGYA—Uganda" written in the memo line of the check or money order.

Within 10 business days, the African Millennium Foundation will send you a letter confirming the receipt of your tax-deductible donation.

"AMF recognizes that countless effective grassroots organizations are limited in their ability to provide outreach and services because they lack the organization and infrastructure that are necessary to make a lasting impact. I am thrilled that AGYA is among the organizations that have the honor of partnering with the African Millennium Foundation, an organization that has a proven track record of supporting and implementing successful, sustainable projects throughout the continent of Africa." beams AGYA Co-Founder, Divinity Barkley.

Within the next 90 days, AGYA plans to submit an application for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States. The 501(c)(3) application process can take as long as six months, but during the interim, AGYA will be accepting tax-deductible donations through the partnership with AMF.

To learn more about the African Millennium Foundation, visit www.1amf.org