European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) - Support Programme for Refugee settlements in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) Livelihood and Labor Market Relevant Skills Development for Refugees & Host Communities

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Abuyi empowers refugees and host youths at his metal welding workshop in Uganda

  • Abuyi empowers refugees and host youths at his metal welding workshop in Uganda

Abuyi Talibu, a 27-year old Ugandan male is a metal fabricator, whose metal welding workshop is a hive of activity. A former trainee under the Support to Skilling Uganda (SSU) project, Abuyi now mentors other young trainees, including refugees in Yumbe district.

Training young people from different backgrounds can pose challenges due to differences but Abuyi says that so far, the trainings have gone well without any mishaps. “All the trainees have been respectful of each other. I usually talk to them at the beginning of the trainings to emphasize why they are here and I encourage them to put any differences aside”, says Abuyi. He does not discriminate against the trainees based on their countries of origin. Instead, he focusses on the potential he sees in each of them and builds on it to empower them. He trains them to fabricate sliding doors and windows, tank stands and gates, among others. Abuyi earns 50,000shs (12€) per trainee per month.

Since the establishment of the Excel Welding workshop, located along Koboko-Moyo road, Abuyi has had the opportunity to train 2 sets of trainees. These are placed at his workshop as interns by Edukans, an implementing partner of Enabel under the SSU project. He was identified as a mentor due to his fast-growing business and willingness to help others. He has so far mentored 16 youth, 11 of whom are refugees from neighbouring South Sudan.

“70% of the youth I have trained are refugees from South Sudan. I am very happy that I am now a mentor and I am helping to change the lives of young people like me through vocational skilling .I like reaching out to the youth and helping them in any way I can because it is us the youth who are the future of our country”.

Abuyi, not only mentors interns but he is also an employer. He currently employs 4 youths, one of whom is a refugee from Piriri camp who started off as an intern. “I retained him as an employee because he is hardworking and he has a positive attitude towards work,” says Abuyi.  He is committed to changing lives because he has also benefitted from the commitment of others who empowered him to own a business in Yumbe.

Yumbe district is one of the regions significantly affected by the influx of refugees, primarily from South Sudan. The district hosts multiple refugee settlements, including Bidibidi, which is one of the largest refugee settlements in the world.  Bidibidi alone accommodates close to 300,000 South Sudanese refugees who fled conflict and violence in their home country. Various NGOs, are actively involved in providing assistance and support to both refugees and host communities in Yumbe district. Efforts are focused on improving living conditions, providing education and vocational training opportunities, and promoting self-reliance among refugees.

Abuyi has a diverse clientele many of whom are refugees. He says that he has established a good relationship with them which has in turn expanded his market through word of mouth referrals. Having a large population of refugees in Yumbe is a good boost for Abuyi’s business because they form a large part of his clientele since they are allowed to build. In Uganda, refugees cannot own land, as with all non-citizens. However, the Ugandan government allocates 50 square meters of land to each refugee family that arrives in Uganda to live and grow food. 

His future plans? “I want to register my company so that I can be able to apply for larger contracts and attract more revenue.” Abuyi also wants to train and employ more youth to curb the problem of drug addiction which he has noticed among the idle youth within his community, especially in refugee settlements. He is grateful for the peaceful co-existence that he observes between the host community members and refugees in Yumbe, which have in turn helped his business to grow.

The 'European Union Trust Fund' (EUTF) supports the implementation of the Support to Skilling Strategy in Uganda. The project aims at sustainably improving food security, nutrition, and livelihoods of the refugee population. It focuses on access to skills development and entrepreneurship guidance and services for refugees and host communities in North-Western Uganda. So far, 1,187 youth, 60% of whom are refugees have been trained since the inception of the project.

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