Chevening alumni seek Shs150m for PWDs, refugees

Persons with disabilies receive wheelchairs in Oyam District in February 2020. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • The initiatives, according to the association chairperson, Ms Helen Kawesa, are in line with alumni commitment to give back to the community

The Chevening Alumni Association of Uganda, or CAAU, plans to raise Shs155m to establish a computer lab for urban refugees and build a modern resource centre at Kampala School for the Physically Handicapped.
The initiatives, according to the association chairperson, Ms Helen Kawesa, are in line with alumni commitment to give back to the community.
The computer lab to be established at Young African Refugees for Integrated Developments (YARID) headquarters in Nsambya, Kampala, is to promote digital skilling for refugees, while the support to School of the Handicapped, also in the capital, aims to promote education that is inclusive of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

A 2016 Uganda Bureau of Statistics survey indicates that 12 percent of Ugandans live with a form of disability with a slightly higher number in children aged five years and above.
“Digital skilling will help them to use the information they are armed with in research and networking…,” Ms Helen Kawesa said last Friday during a stakeholder’s conference held at Protea Hotel to start the fund-raising drive.
“We have been training youthful refugees to raise awareness so that they can be self-reliant,” she added.

CAAU is a group of Ugandans who pursued graduate studies in different disciplines with funding from the British government’s prestigious Chevening scholarship. The alumni partnered with YARID, which was already involved in empowering urban refugees through diverse interventions to conduct trainings in refugees’ legal and gender rights as well as entrepreneurship.  
“We want all refugees to be able to communicate in English because it is the general language in Uganda and they can be able to use these machines in digital skilling,” Mr Sedrick Murhula, the YARID founder and chief executive officer, said.

Mr Murhula said three in every 10 refugees benefitting from YARID are Ugandans.  The onboarding stakeholders’ support will enable the training of 700 refugees by next year. 
Mr Wisdom Karungo, who has been a refugee since 2013 and has benefitted from the Chevening alumni training, said: “We have benefited a lot about our rights and we can defend ourselves”.
The Friday conference followed an education round table where keynote speaker Justice Catherine Bamugemereire of the Court of Appeal challenged Chevening alumni “not to settle for less”.
“Use the skills you acquired through the scholarship to become champions of change,’’ she said before commended the alumni for not choosing to remain for ‘greener pastures’ in the UK.

Speaking via a video link, British High Commissioner Kate Airey pledged to support the association and advised the alumni to encourage more people to apply for the British government scholarship.
“Stand very strong and I will be there when you need anything, and thank you for what you are doing,” she said.
At the March 19 event, Cavendish University Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr Olive Sabiiti, herself a Chevening alumna, said the planned support to the School of the Handicapped was informed by the necessity to remove barriers that impede PWDs  potentials.