MTN and Ericsson, in collaboration with the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), have announced the successful graduation of 80 youth peacemakers at Hope North in Northern Uganda.
Ericsson has been working with WPDI since 2014 to help youths affected by conflict and violence, to foster safer and more productive communities in Africa, Latin America, and the US.
“It has been a privilege to be part of this program, and to see so many promising youths embark on a new path in life,” says Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, senior vice-president, chief sustainability and public affairs officer, and head of sustainability and public affairs at Ericsson. The program is a true testament to what can be achieved through public-private partnerships and is a living implementation of SDG16, on peace and justice.”
As the technology partner to WPDI, Ericsson provides Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment such as computers, mobile phones as well as access to their cloud-based learning platform, Connect to Learn.
The equipment is complemented by specialised on-the-ground trainings on ICT and business skills for the youth, provided by WPDI. The organisation runs holistic support to groups, which includes a unique training mix, focusing on mediation, conflict transformation, life skills and vocational skills.
“Working with MTN, Ericsson has provided mobile connectivity and internet access for the Community Learning Centres that the Initiative develops in remote areas. WPDI provides continued support and training in basic business and life skills to its youth as they develop and implement their community-building projects,” says Wim Vanhelleputte, CEO of MTN Uganda.
In 2017, the YPN was expanded to the Acholi sub-region in Northern Uganda, adding another 33 youth to the existing group of 30 peacemakers already active in the Gulu area where they conduct peace-building activities, including conflict resolution education classes in primary and secondary schools, and manage six businesses, mostly in agriculture.
In Uganda, the YPN has been extended into the Kiryandongo refugee settlement where 46 youth completed the one-year WPDI curriculum, and a new center was built for the benefit of the surrounding communities.
Since the launch of the different programs, approximately 20 000 people have been positively impacted thanks to the overall efforts of projects led by the youth.