June 23, 2009

AGYA Seizes Opportunity to Move to Larger Facility

In December 2008, when AGYA leaders selected a 6 room house in Nabulagala as the site of our community center, they thought the space inside the house and the gated concrete compound would be more than enough space to accommodate the community the organization planned to serve. However, within just a few short months, AGYA had registered more than 200 women and children. It became evident that the 6 room community center was too small. In addition to placing a cap on enrollment, AGYA co-founders Divinity Barkley and Abraham Matovu decided to start searching for a new space.

By early June, Barkley and Matovu had located a 7 room, 2 story gated facility with a compound nearly three times the size of the previous facility. With the fundraising help of the USC student volunteers who spent 4 weeks working and teaching in Uganda, AGYA was able to secure the space.

Located in Lubya, the new space is only a short distance away from the previous facility in Nabulagala. With larger rooms and less population density, the space is ideal for AGYA’s current needs. Additionally, the compound is mostly grass so there is ample space to conduct outdoor, games, activities, and classes.

Above: AGYA Youth Leader, Happy Namutebi conducts discussion workshops at the new AGYA learning center.

Below: AGYA Members in front of the learning center after the weekly Sunday meeting.

AGYA Board Member Namuyaba Temanju recently visited the new AGYA learning center. Born in Uganda, Temanju is a trained mediator and facilitator in the field of conflict resolution and interethnic relations. In addition to her position as a Board Member with the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association, Temanju works at Colorado State University.

While visiting Kenya last week, Temanju took the opportunity to observe the work that AGYA conducts on the ground in Uganda.

“I am very impressed with the growth within the last 6 months. Seeing photos and hearing updates from AGYA leaders does not quite capture the transformation that is happening within the communities AGYA serves. I just don’t know how to express it in English, but in Luganda, we say: kyewunyisa. It means that AGYA’s work in the Lubya-Nabulagala community is astounding, incredible, amazing, or indescribable” said Temanju.

Above: Board Member, Namuyaba Temanju at the new AGYA learning center with AGYA Co-Founders Divinity Barkley and Abraham Matovu

New Partnership to Provide Mentors & Academic Scholarships to Ugandan Girls

The Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (A.G.Y.A.) is proud to announce a strategic partnership with the Century City Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. This partnership will include a mentorship component and provide scholarships to Ugandan girls.

Over the next 5 weeks, A.G.Y.A. will be accepting applications from high school girls entering Senior 4, 5, and 6. Scholarship recipients will be announced in late July, and the first awards will be distributed in early August. Recipients will be selected based on their involvement with A.G.Y.A. programs, their family’s financial need, their student progress reports from the past academic year, and their leadership potential.

In Uganda, young women living in poverty are fighting an uphill battle and face nearly insurmountable odds, including low academic expectations and lack of access to educated female mentors willing to challenge them to be high-achievers. Many girls in Uganda drop out of school midway through their high school careers due to their family’s inability to pay school fees, and buy materials such as books and school uniforms. In recent years, sexual abuse by school administrators who prey on defenseless young girls has also become an increasing challenge. Appallingly, less than 1% of the women currently enrolled in A.G.Y.A. programs report advancing past the 9th grade (Senior 4). Since our founding, A.G.Y.A. has been guided by the belief that investments in girls’ education and women’s empowerment initiatives can counteract gender inequity and reap long-term benefits for communities. This is why A.G.Y.A. will allocate the scholarship monies to high school girls.

In addition to providing scholarship funding, 15 members of Delta Sigma Theta will serve as mentors to girls in Uganda. Through bi-weekly e-mail correspondence, young girls in Uganda will be able to share their hopes, fears, stories, goals, and dreams with the dynamic, professional, successful, multi-talented women who make up the Century City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Unlike a traditional pen-pal program, the e-mail correspondence between mentors and mentees will help Ugandan girls develop computer literacy skills while also giving them the unique opportunity to receive guidance and encouragement from their mentors.

This aspect of the partnership corresponds directly to the A.G.Y.A. Girls Program’s core vision, which is to provide Ugandan girls with positive role models and mentors, educational facilities and resources that will allow them to become successful female leaders in their communities.

A.G.Y.A. Girls Director, Divinity Barkley, says “I am so proud of this partnership and what it represents for cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, women’s empowerment, and education. Showing their commitment to global initiatives, the leaders of the Century City Alumnae chapter have committed to a long-term partnership, which is essential for the sustainability and growth of this project. I am honored to work with such amazing women for the betterment of young girls in Uganda.”

Not only does this program align with the A.G.Y.A. Girls Program’s core vision, but it also serves as an extension of the Century City Alumnae chapter’s award-winning scholarship programs, which have been so successful in the United States. Moreover, the structure of this partnership offers the members of Century City Alumnae chapter the opportunity to better understand the complex challenges facing girls and women in Uganda while also developing their chapter’s International Awareness & Involvement initiative.

Through this partnership, A.G.Y.A. hopes to empower and encourage young women to take control of their futures, finish high school with strong academic rankings, and pursue higher education at the collegiate level.

To support other A.G.Y.A. initiatives, send your tax-deductible donation to:

African Millennium Foundation |

c/o Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association

468 North Camden Drive |Beverly Hills, California 90212

** make checks payable to “African Millennium Foundation” and write AGYA—Uganda in the memo line to ensure funds are allocated to our programs in Uganda. E-mail: divinity.amagezi@gmail.com if you have additional questions about how to donate!

USC Students Lend a Helping Hand in Uganda

Nine ambitious students from the University of Southern California recently spent 4 weeks working in Uganda as part of a unique service-learning trip that focused on cultural exchange, leadership development, relationship-building, skills training and education.

Students lived and worked at the AGYA Community Center in Nabulagala, and spent their days teaching as part of AGYA's after-school program, learning the basics of Luganda, Uganda's most widely spoken indigenuous language, and reflecting on life in a developing nation.

Above: USC Student Volunteers Chris Whitenhill and Nicolette Omoile with AGYA Co-Founder, Divinity Barkley.

USC Senior, Warren Hsiao taught computer literacy classes using the computers which AGYA recently acquired through a generous donation from a supporter. Hsiao also actively engaged in Luganda language lessons while teaching AGYA youth members how to say some basic Chinese greetings!

USC graduate student, Kristina Thomas, taught students how to use basic film editing software, and worked with students to shoot a music video as part of her film and acting workshops. "Working with Kristina was such a great opportunity," said 17 year old AGYA youth leader Nelson Kazibwe who looks forward to teaching others how to edit short films and use a camcorder.

Above: USC Volunteers Warren Hsiao and Chris Whitenhill teach a class to AGYA youth members.

Above: USC Sophomore Hayley Pappas teaches a music workshop with AGYA youth members.

Above: USC Student Volunteers Emily Gosselin and Marianna Singwi-Ferrono teach a reading workshop.

In addition to teaching classes and workshops at the AGYA community center, students also participated in two cultural excursions, visiting the Kasubi Royal Tombs and the River Nile in Jinja, Uganda.

Above: USC Students & AGYA Youth Leader Sarah Mulekatete at the source of the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda. For Mulekatete, a native Ugandan, it was her first time to visit the world's longest river.

Below: Marianna and Kristina smile while at the statue of renowned peace-maker Mahatma Indira Ghandi which was erected at the source of the River Nile in Uganda.

Students taught at local primary schools 4 times a week, and completed a community-service project at Nabulagala Good Hope Primary School.

Administrators at Good Hope P.S. were so impressed with the USC students' focus on creativity as an educational tool that they announced that the school will be making art a mandatory requirement for their elementary school students beginning next year. "I am so excited that Nabulagala Good Hope Primary School made the decision to include art. Self-expression is so vital to the development of children, which is why AGYA is committed to giving Ugandan youth opportunities to express themselves through different artistic mediums such as song, dance, painting, and film. The leaders of AGYA will continue to work with Good Hope P.S. so we can help them secure supplies for their art program."

Below: USC Student Volunteers Marianna and Hayley with AGYA participants.

The USC students came to Uganda to work with AGYA as the result of the partnership between Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association and USC-student group, R.A.Y.S.E. (Rise of African Youth through Self-Empowerment).

Below: USC Student Volunteers and AGYA Youth Leaders at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

AGYA looks forward to making the service-learning trip an annual summer program that will give college students an opportunity to engage in sincere cross-cultural dialogue while also teaching and sharing skills with Ugandan children and youth.

If you are a college student interested in organizing a similar group service-learning project at your university, contact us at: amagezigemaanyi@gmail.com


June 8, 2009

AGYA Officially Launches Computer Lab

On June 1, 2009, AGYA officially opened the doors to our computer lab in Uganda. AGYA plans to offer daily after-school classes in order to maximize the potential of the computer lab and provide more students with access to technology. Computer classes are free to all active AGYA youth members.

Currently USC student volunteer, Warren Hsiao (pictured above), teaches basic computer literacy skills to Ugandan youth at the AGYA facility in Nabulagala.

AGYA would like to thank all of the supporters who donated funds to help make our dream of a computer lab a success!

Power of Partnership: AGYA Teams Up With Canadian-Based "Point Youth Media"

Recognizing the power of partnership, AGYA has formed a partnership with Point Youth Media, a Canadian-based media arts organization. Using film and photography, the partnership aims to raise awareness among Vancouver youth, support the skill building of Kampala youth and to support locally based organizations by building sustainable projects. Point Youth Media will provide resources, skill building workshops and facilitation for AGYA youth members.

PYM representative, Nasra Mire is currently in Uganda and is being hosted by AGYA. 22 year old Mire holds a degree in graphic design from Langara College, and is in the process of completing a Global Stewardship Program at Capilano University.

Above: International volunteers (from left) Jillian Chou, Hayley Pappas, and Nasra Mire with AGYA Youth Leader Sarah Mulekatete

Since arriving in Uganda in mid-May, Mire has trained AGYA youth members in media arts technology. Under Mire’s leadership, youth members have been working on a mini-documentary about the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association. The documentary will be completed in the coming weeks. One of Mire's students, 17 year old Brian Sseguya, was selected to direct the mini-documentary. "Nasra has taught me what it takes to be a director in the film industry. She is a good and experienced teacher. Working as a director was a big step for me because I only knew how to use a camera to take pictures, but now, because of Nasra, I can direct and edit."

Above: AGYA Youth Leader Nelson Kazibwe participates in one of Nasra's film workshops.

Below: Mire with AGYA Youth Leader Nelson Kazibwe.

Later this year, 5 more PYM representatives will travel to Uganda to work with AGYA youth members. AGYA is excited about this partnership, and looks forward to hosting more PYM representatives while developing an enhanced curriculum that can help Ugandan youth develop technical, marketable skills.