Restless Development Uganda is a non-governmental organization passionate about youth-led development whose vision is to unlock the power and agency of young people to bring about transformative change on issues which matter to them by 2030. Restless Development is included as a role model on disability inclusion because of their Youth Internship program. In this program 6 youths with different impairments were included. The youth with disabilities were placed within different organizations, mentored and supported by Restless Development Uganda, for a period of 6 months
Youth Intern Program
At the office of Restless Development, we speak with Lawrence Wanyama. He is the Program Coordinator of the Youth Intern Program (YIP). Lawrence tells with passion about his work: “The aim of the program is to bridge the gap between university and employment. We offer youth knowledge, employment soft skills and life skills.” Some examples he mentions are the way of dressing, and work readiness skills like arriving on time at the job, working in a team and managing of expectations. The youth were also supported in developing a career plan with determined goals. Within the program, the interns practice on job interviews. “The list of topics is high and well covered and the program is really successful”, tells Lawrence. “During the six months that youth are involved in the program, they receive intensive mentoring and coaching. Four out of five interns got a job after they finished the program.”
Restless Development puts a deliberate effort to include young persons with disabilities in their internship program. Participants must clearly state their interest and motivation, to be able to participate, which is sometimes difficult for young persons with a disability, according to Lawrence. The youth who participated in the program had various impairments, such as visual impairments, speech impairments and physical impairments. The impact of including young persons with a disability in their internship program is high, according to Lawrence. He sees it as important that they advocate for space for their peers. Throughout they were very concerned with how everything they learned and benefited could also work for other young persons with disabilities. . They are felt to be proactive, which was an eye-opener to the Restless Development team. They are very powerful advocates, laughs Lawrence.
Restless Development estimates that one out of four of the interns involved in the program has a disability. Already six young persons with a disability have completed the internship program. In the current batch, there is one person with disability; Rachel. “In Uganda I am considered to be a little person. I find it important to accept who I am and how I can live best with my disability”, says Rachel. Rachel shares her experiences on the interview process she went through before attending the program. “During the interview process people did not look at my physical outlook but at my academic skills. Luckily, I was considered as one of the successful candidates.” It was her first job interview of this kind. During the program, she experienced that self-identity was an important topic. “How I view myself will certainly determine how I experience life. Positive life or positive health. What you feed your mind with, is actually what will occupy it”, thus Rachel. She also learned that “you can always believe in yourself so that you can perform better.”