Yumbe, Uganda, 13 February 2020 (F2A)- The Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) and Muslim Centre for Justice and Law (MCJL) has trained hundreds of young men and women whom it uses to promote interfaith relations and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Yumbe district. One of those young men is Ozama Alex from Yumbe Township sub-county. Like many other young men and women from his home area, Ozama dropped from school and was not in formal employment. He had also internalised the prevailing negative stereotypes and prejudices against ‘others’ in Yumbe.
Before the UJCC and MCJL contacted him, he did not know about peaceful coexistence, interfaith relations or community dialogues. “I had not heard of community dialogues before the UJCC/MCJL approached. I heard of them for the first time when they selected me and I attended their training in Moyo Multipurpose Hall,” Ozama explained.
The UJCC/MCJL involved Ozama in the project as one of the youth who formed the core of the Community Own Resource Persons (CORPs). He was among the young men and women from both Muslim and Christian faiths whom the project equipped with information and skills in inter-cultural communication, negotiation, interfaith relations and cooperation, and peaceful coexistence. His role as a CORPs member was to reach out to the youth and members of the communities in the villages, mosques and Christian churches and parishes in Yumbe sub-county.
“I left the training a changed person,” he reported. “I had acquired new skills of leadership on dialogue promotion, interfaith relations, formation of groups for community savings for financial support and community development.” By August 2019, Ozama and his CORPs team had reached 4380 young men and women in all villages around Yumbe Township. Additionally, his work as a member of CORPs team exposed to him various ways in which he could earn an income and opened to him the different ways of changing his social and physical environments.
Due to the work of Ozama and his CORPs team, there were notable improvements in interfaith relations in Yumbe Township by the end of December 2019. Further, those reached by the team had started forming savings groups so as to improve their economic statuses. Among the changes which Ozama reported are the following.
- Relations between Muslims and Christians had improved and youth from both faiths had started teaming up in small savings groups.
- Those trained together by the UJCC/MCJL project had started working together as leaders in the community.
- Those trained by the UJCC/MCJL project has started initiating community dialogues even after the end of the project with a view to sustaining the achieved interfaith relations and peaceful coexistence.
- Some of those that the project trained had been able to secure jobs with other INGOs and NGOs working in the area on issues of peacebuilding because the project gave them the necessary skills and experience.
- The trained youth and those reached by CORPs formed sports teams and did friendly sports. Such sports improved the overall environment of interfaith relations and peaceful coexistence in the district.
The Faith to Action Network has been supporting UJCC and MCJL through a small grant and continuous technical assistance, which covers program management, financial management, monitoring & evaluation, and assessment of outcomes and impact. The F2A Network has also been supporting both partners on documentation of lessons learned and best practices and generation of additional research themes from the impacts. The F2A is funded by the European Union (EU) and administered to the partners under a project known as Communities Richer in Diversity (CRID). Other F2A partners in the EU funded project are Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL) and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).