April 16 2018 Youth In Action: An SOS Alumni Inspires a Generation Ambrose, who grew up with an SOS Family in Uganda, formed an alumni group to address the empowerment and employment challenges facing young people. Ambrose, a 22-year-old who grew up at SOS Children's Village Entebbe, has recently helped in the launch of an SOS Children’s Villages alumni group to address the empowerment and employment challenges facing young people. Ambrose’s hope is that the connections gained through the group will lead to a better future for today’s 420 million-strong African generation that is 15 to 35 years old. As a child growing up at the SOS Children’s Village Entebbe, Ambrose participated at the SOS Children’s Parliament that provides a forum for children and young people to speak out about issues in the Village and their community. “Getting to learn from the experiences of other youth outside Uganda, from all across Africa, showed me that we are all equal. Education is one of the challenges that almost all of us have.’’ ‘’You find that the education we have today does not always prepare you for a job. You study, you get a diploma, but you may not get the practical skills you need to do the job,’’ adds Ambrose, who studies management science and wants to pursue further studies in finance. “My experience at SOS Children’s Villages changed me. I was kind of a stubborn child,” Ambrose recalls with a laugh. “But as time went on I realized that if I don’t use this opportunity, there was no other way I would get an education and go on with life.” Inspiring the Next Generation “What we are working for is bringing all SOS children together and uniting to help us all have a better future,” he says. “The purpose of the alumni group is to have a group of people to come back to the SOS Villages to see how we can help our young brothers and sisters. It gives us a chance for us to come back and share our experiences.” “We want to encourage our brothers and sisters in a positive way in choosing a career,” Ambrose says. The group also wants to encourage younger people to work hard and advance. “You don’t have to start big; you can start small and grow.” Empowerment Begins at Home Ambrose is not alone in seeking to empower young voices. Young people from SOS families are playing a leading role in voicing their views at the Village, community and national levels, says Marvin Ssanyu, Program Manager for Gender and Advocacy at SOS Children’s Villages Uganda. “We have created platforms so that the children’s views are heard and appreciated,” Ssanyu says. From left: Dux Atuheirwe, Youth Development Program Officer at SOS Children’s Villages Entebbe, Ambrose, and Marvin Ssanyu, Program Manager for Gender and Advocacy at SOS Children’s Villages Uganda. At SOS Children’s Villages Uganda, young people present their views on topics such as youth participation and empowerment through the SOS Children’s Parliament. For Ambrose, youth action can begin at home. He recalls how the young people at the SOS Children’s Village Entebbe wanted to clean up rubbish piles in their community. “We decided, as youth, to do something about it. We cleaned it up and worked with municipal authorities to haul away the rubbish.” This is an example of what young people can do when they band together and let their voices be heard. Today, he is hopeful that the young people, including those who grew up in SOS families across Africa, can be part of a much larger community movement. “What happens in Uganda is not different than what happens elsewhere. The challenges of the youth today are bigger than one country,” says Ambrose.