December 31, 2009

New AGYA Youth Leaders Announced

The involvement of youth in leadership positions of the organization is a central aspect of AGYA's philosophy. This is a departure from traditional Ugandan culture, which maintains the supremacy of elders, a point of view that often diminishes the capabilities of young people and renders their opinions irrelevant or unimportant. 

In AGYA, youth leaders have decision-making authority, contribute to the organization's overall strategic plan, conduct outreach and advocacy in the community, lead meetings, facilitate classes and workshops, and serve as Ambassadors to friends of AGYA. The inclusion of these powerful young voices has helped to set the organization's agenda and introduced new, innovative solutions to key problems affecting the thousands of Ugandan's living in urban poverty.

(ABOVE: AGYA's new leadership team with Co-Founders, Divinity Barkley and Abraham Matovu)

December 30, 2009

AGYA Art Students Earn A Field Trip To The Source of The River Nile

12 students who actively participated in AGYA Volunteer, Ben Rothschild's art class were rewarded with a free field trip to Jinja, the source of the River Nile, the world's longest river. While tourists frequent the site, for many of the students, the trip to Jinja was their first time to see the beauty of the River Nile. Students expressed gratitude for being given the chance to see the natural beauty that exists in their country.

During the day-long field trip, students were provided with a nutritious lunch and breakfast. They put into practice the skills they had acquired and developed over the course of Rothschild's 4-week workshops, and completed some beautiful, breathtaking still life and landscape drawings. See below for pictures chronicling this amazing opportunity that was given to 12 special, standout art students!

Above: Students pose for a group picture with their teacher, Ben Rothschild.

ABOVE: Ben explains the next activity to art students, Nelson Kazibwe and Kenneth Mulinde.

ABOVE: Students gather in a circle to share their critique of each students' final projects.

ABOVE: Aspiring artists, Juma Kaweesi and Enoch Kaweera take in the breathtaking view of Bujagali Falls.

ABOVE: Nelson Kazibwe and Brian Sseguya search for a new location to begin their next activity.

ABOVE: Juma works on a life drawing.

ABOVE: Ben takes a break from answering student questions.

ABOVE: Kaweera focuses on the perspective of his drawing.

ABOVE: Rita Nansubuga completes part 2 of the day's activities at Bujagali Falls.

ABOVE: Brian Sseguya gets started on part 1 of the day's projects at the Source of the River Nile.

ABOVE: Racheal Nankya focuses on shading her artwork.

ABOVE: Students pose for a group picture at the statue of famed peacemaker, Indira Ghandi.

ABOVE: Ben gives Brian some feedback on his life drawing.

ABOVE: Students arrive at Bujagali Falls.

ABOVE: Students receive papers, pencils, and erasers before beginning the day's activities.

ABOVE: Students snack on fresh mangoes.

ABOVE/BELOW: Students take in the scenery at the source of the River Nile

December 23, 2009

AGYA Hopes to Join One Laptop Per Child Digital Revolution

Focusing on increasing the computer literacy of young Ugandans, AGYA has decided to reach out to world-renowned organization, "One Laptop Per Child" to secure a small grant of 10 computers to implement the following proposed project!

1. Name of Project: (Amagezi Gemaanyi: Knowledge is Power)

Shipping Address You've Verified
Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association

c/o Mr. Matovu Abraham
Munaku Junction, near Kasubi Tombs

Off Kiyingi Lane
Kampala, Uganda


Number of Laptops (or other hardware) You Request to Borrow: 10 laptops

Loan Length—How Many Months: 20 months

Contact Info: (include all email addresses & phone numbers)

Matovu Abraham (Team Leader)
Phone: 256753098499
Education: Graduate, Lubiri High School
Profession: Co-founder and Secretariat, Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association
Qualifications: More than 5 years experience working with children and youth.

Divinity Barkley
Phone: 256753098499 or 213-245-4339
Education: Graduate, University of Southern California (B.A. in Political Science and African Studies; Candidate for Makerere University’s M.A. Degree Program in the Department of Women and Gender Studies
Profession: Co-founder and Executive Director, Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association
Qualifications: Three years professional managerial experience and extensive training as a youth facilitator and outreach specialist, particularly with at-risk teen girls.

Sarah Mulekatete
Education: Graduate, Kasubi Secondary School
Profession: Youth Leader & Manager, Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association
Qualifications: Has served in leadership positions in AGYA for over one (1) year.

Nelson Kazibwe
Education: Graduate, Excel Senior School
Profession: Youth Leader & Manager, Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association
Qualifications: Has served in leadership positions in AGYA for over one (1) year.

3. Objectives

Project Objectives:

The primary objective is to promote the Amagezi Gemaanyi Computer Lab as a safe learning space for children (ages 6-11) and youth (ages 12-20) by implementing a project that will supplement the Ugandan Primary and Secondary School reading, writing, and mathematics syllabus using the interactive games and applications within the XO laptop as a fun, innovative teaching aid.

  • * To enhance the functionality of the Amagezi Gemaanyi Computer Lab
  • * To improve the performance of 100 children/youth (ages 6-20) in English reading and writing proficiency
  • * To improve the performance of 50 children (ages 6-11) in basic Mathematical operations (including addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and ratios)
  • * To provide a safe, nurturing, personalized learning environment
  • * To teach 100 children/youth how to utilize basic typing programs
  • * To enhance the digital literacy and technological communication skills of all project participants

4. Plan of Action

Plan and Procedure for Achieving the Stated Objectives:

The implementation of this project will take place at the AGYA Learning Center in Lubya, and will reach out to children/youth living in the urban slum communities of Lubya, Nabulagala, Lusaze, and Nakulabye.

  • AGYA will enhance the functionality of the Amagezi Gemaanyi Computer Lab by acquiring 10 OLPC laptops for a period of 20 months
  • AGYA will work with our current staff and members as well as the local chief in Lubya and Nakulabye to identify 50 children (ages 6-11) and 50 youth (ages 12-20) who will benefit from the proposed project
  • AGYA will improve the performance of 100 children/youth (ages 6-20) in English reading and writing proficiency by utilizing English as the language of instruction during classes, and implementing voice recordings and visual aids to connect words and images. Specifically, we will focus on spelling and correct pronunciation, grammatical skills, building vocabulary, as well as online writing and reading comprehension projects. Students will type their classwork using their XO laptop, conduct live chats with classmates using their XO laptop, and use Wikipedia to find vocabulary definitions.
  • AGYA will improve the performance of 50 children (ages 6-11) in basic Mathematical operations (including addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and ratios) by using pertinent interactive XO laptop applications that focus on math
  • AGYA will provide a safe, nurturing, personalized learning environment by limiting class sizes to maximize one-on-one communication with the class instructor, and eventually encouraging students to be innovative and independent with their XO laptops
  • AGYA will teach 100 children/youth how to utilize basic typing programs by offering ample time for students to practice typing through dictation and transcription
  • AGYA will enhance the students’ digital literacy and technological communication skills by establishing active e-mail accounts and teaching all project participants how to navigate the World Wide Web and conduct basic internet research utilizing popular search engines

5. Needs

Why is this project needed?

  1. Uganda, with a median age of 15 years, has the youngest population in the world (The East African, Dec. 2008 Article, Report from International Social Security Association). Based on even the most conservative estimates, at least 15 million of Uganda's 27 million people (or 55%) are under the age of 20. With little to look forward to, Ugandan children/youth, especially those living in urban poverty, are vulnerable to drug and substance abuse, sexual and labour exploitation, domestic violence, gang involvement and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, Ugandan children/youth living in urban poverty are in vital need of safe spaces where they can express themselves, access information, gain computer skills and digital literacy.
  2. Our target community (children/youth ages 6-20 living in urban slum communities of Lubya, Nabulagala, Lusaze, and Nakulabye), has limited access to the World Wide Web and digital technology, thus are unable to access information and develop the skills needed to actively contribute to the 21st Century Global World
  3. The majority of students in our target community have failed to fully comprehend the fundamentals of Mathematics during their Primary Education, and thus are at a major learning disadvantage as they move forward in subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Algebra, Geometry and Calculus. Additionally, the Education System in Uganda focuses on theoretical learning, especially with mathematics. The proposed project will construct mathematics within the practical realm by providing interactive hands-on math games and learning activities.
  4. The majority of students in our target community feel discouraged from speaking English due to the fact that students are often penalized, beaten or humiliated at school if they are “caught” speaking in an indigenous African language. The proposed project will reframe the way students think about English by fostering open dialogue in a nurturing learning environment that does not penalize, but rather engages students through the use of video recordings, audio to enhance pronunciation and comprehension, and interactive games that make learning English fun.

During the 20 month loan period, we will register 100 project participants because every 4 months, we will register 10 new children ages 6-11, and 10 new youth ages 12-20. The youth class will be held twice each week for two hours. The children’s class will be held three times each week for 50 minutes. We are requesting 10 machines because we would like every student to have their own individual XO laptop. We are willing to work with rebuilt XO machines, but would prefer not to receive damaged laptops as we do not have the funds to repair the machines.

6. Sharing Deliverables

Project URL—where you'll report specific ongoing progress:

How will you convey tentative ideas & results back to the OLPC/Sugar community, prior to completion?

We will convey tentative ideas and results back to the OLPC/Sugar community via e-mail and through weekly updates to our Project Blog, and monthly updates on AGYA’s Organizational Blog. Updates will include: photographs, short videos, and written testimonials from project participants.

How will the final fruits of your labor be distributed to children or community members worldwide?

Our final results will be distributed to our target community, their families, and the world through the Project Blog, AGYA’s Organizational Blog, frequent e-mail updates, and several short mini-documentaries which highlight the progress of each 4-month project that will be posted on the Project Blog, AGYA’s Organizational Blog, and AGYA’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. We will also reach out to local and international media outlets to gain coverage of our project and share the fruits of our labor with the world!

Will your work have any possible application or use outside our community?

If yes, how will these people be reached?

Our work can be applied and used by other NGOs and schools in Uganda that have similar goals. We will reach out to these organizations and educational institutions by sending out a hard-copy newsletter highlighting our success, challenges, and lessons learned. We will also provide these organizations and educational institutions with all the information they will need to submit a project proposal. Finally, we will inform these organizations and educational institutions that our team members are willing to serve as mentors/advisors to their proposed projects.

Have you investigated working with nearby XO Lending Libraries or Project Groups?

We researched Lending Libraries, but did not find any in the East African region. Additionally, we investigated the work of project groups, and found projects with similar goals in Kenya and Rwanda. If possible, we would love to collaborate with groups in these areas.

7. Quality/Mentoring

Would your Project benefit from Support, Documentation and/or Testing people?

Yes, our project would benefit from support and documentation regarding usability and functionality. We would like guidance on what types of games and activities have worked well for similar projects in areas similar to urban Uganda. For example, viewing streaming videos online is often difficult to slow network connections, thus we would benefit greatly from advice and recommendations that can help us maximize our usability and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

Can we help you with an experienced mentor from the OLPC/Sugar community?

If YES: specify the kind of Ongoing Mentoring that will benefit you most.

Yes, we would prefer an experienced mentor who has worked with children and youth living in urban poverty, is able to answer technical questions, and can offer recommendations on specific learning games and activities for our curriculum. We believe that having a mentor would assist us with staying on track, and achieving our key goals.

December 8, 2009

AGYA Marks Major Milestones of 2009

Through hard work and determination, AGYA accomplished some major goals during our first year of operation.

  • December 2008: established core objectives, vision statement and opened doors of a 6-room facility to Ugandans living in the urban slum of Nabulagala
  • January 2009: began hosting classes and workshops for approximately 200 women and children who registered with the organization
  • April 2009: opened computer lab after receiving a donation of computers
  • May 2009: hosted 9 international student volunteers from the University of Southern California and Nasra Mire, Co-Director of Point Youth Media
  • July 2009: formed a partnership with the Century City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and launched a girls scholarship/mentorship program
  • September 2009: honored as a special guest at the Kampala City Council Annual Literacy Day
  • October 2009: officially became registered with the Republic of Uganda as a non-governmental organization (NGO)
  • November 2009: hosted 3 individual international volunteers, including Hawa Mire, Co-Director of Point Youth Media, Ben Rothschild, and Jenny Calvert all of whom shared skills, such as art, film, photography, and dance with AGYA Youth

Throughout the year:

  • We maintained our free lunch program, providing clean drinking water and nutritious meals to more than 100 Ugandan children;
  • We offered Ugandan youth a safe space to express themselves creatively through dance, music, poetry, art, and creative writing;
  • We provided outreach, support, and advocacy to Ugandans living in Nabulagala, Nakulabye, Kasubi, and Bulange;
  • We developed leadership skills in Ugandan youth;
  • We enriched the lives of all our members through innovative programming.

In 2010, we are focused on solidifying our organizational and financial sustainability. This will entail continued training of our youth leader staff, seeking support of corporate donors and grant-making entities, and developing our income-generating activities. We are also formulating plans to acquire a plot of land in a nearby village, which will produce enough food to fully sustain our free lunch program. The surplus will be sold at local markets to generate income for AGYA’s general expenses.

This Holiday season, you can help support our charitable work in Uganda by making a tax-deductible donation on your behalf or in the name of a friend, relative, or co-worker.

At your request, we can e-mail you a special gift voucher; just contact us at:

All you have to do is:

  1. Fill out the voucher and present it to a special person
  2. Make a check payable to “African Millennium Foundation” and write “AGYA-UGANDA” in the memo line of your check
  3. Mail your tax-deductible donation to:

African Millennium Foundation

c/o Amagezi Gemaanyi

468 North Camden Drive

Beverly Hills, California 90212

We look forward to your continued support in 2010.


Divinity L. Barkley
Executive Director, AGYA

Matovu Abraham
Secretariat, AGYA