30 Years

SPW Uganda 1998 - helping young Ugandans help themselves


What is SPW?

Students Partnership Worldwide (SPW) is a youth-focused development charity established in 1986 by a London teacher. We recruit, train and deploy talented young people from Britain and sub-Saharan Africa to work as volunteers (known as 'SPWs') on rural education or environment development programmes. In 1998 300 volunteers worked on our programmes in Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Our Uganda programmes began in 1997. They are run from our office in Mbale by a Ugandan Programme Manager and 2 British assistants.

Youth education programme -linking learning to life

Ugandan and British SPWs support local teaching staff at disadvantaged primary and secondary schools in Mbale, Kapchorwa and Kamuli districts. During their 8 month posting the SPWs use innovative, non-formal approaches to education to stimulate and motivate local young people. Drama, sport, music, debate, art and practical workshops are used to raise awareness of important issues such as AIDs and basic health care, and to develop life skills - for example income generation and project management. These activities foster confidence and initiative among otherwise vulnerable sections of the Ugandan population. In addition, SPW provides funding for development activities as long as they are initiated and managed by local young people. Examples include water conversation, tree planting, bakeries and carpentry workshops.

Youth environmental programme - partnership in action

Mixed teams of SPWs are trained in-country by Ugandan environmental experts in local environmental issues, environmental protection and outreach techniques. The teams are then attached to rural communities inside the Mount Elgon National Park for 3 month periods. The SPWs work with the local community, especially local young people, and National Park officials to identify threats to the environment and develop appropriate solutions. These include environmental education and small-scale projects such as developing water catchment facilities, building fuel-saving stoves and planting tree nurseries.

How business can help - investing in the future

To enable us to expand our programmes and maximise the number of Ugandan SPWs working on them, we launched the YOUNG UGANDA Campaign in March 1998, aimed at attracting funding support from the Ugandan private sector. At the Kampala Sheraton Hotel, in front of an audience made up of business leaders, politicians and national media, Speaker of Parliament Hon. James Wapakhabulo praised SPW's efforts to mobilise young Ugandans and urged businesses to support our programmes. The response has been encouraging, and included offers of cash, free petrol from Shell; project funding from Mukwano and direct sponsorship of Ugandan volunteers from BAT.

SPW Uganda's long term success depends upon the support of sympathetic businesses. Without corporate support, the numbers of Ugandan SPWs will always be restricted. Each Ugandan volunteer costs 1000 to recruit, train and deploy. By sponsoring (or part-sponsoring) a volunteer you will not just be contributing towards grass-roots rural development. You could also give a young Ugandan the experience of a lifetime and the opportunity to learn invaluable skills and confidence.