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Ivan Fredrick Kasonko is the Team Leader for a Youth led Organisation Key Populations Uganda. He is part of Youth Advocates in Uganda.

Key Populations Uganda is tapping into the power of sharing experiences with peers to help key population youths deal with stigma and discrimination- a Speak Up project aimed at providing therapeutic assistance.

Marginalisation is pushing groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity or place in it. Marginalised youth may be made to feel as if they are less important than those who hold more power and privilege in today’s society. As a marginalised young person, I know what it feels to be in such a position.

23 years ago, I lost my parents to the HIV/AIDs pandemic. I was lucky to be left with four older siblings who took on the responsibility of taking care of me. I was baptized HIV positive and the society I grew up in made sure I was aware of this everyday.

I did not let the way that I was treated get me down and instead, I chose to believe in myself as deserving better. After losing my mother at just five years old I became determined to fight to end AIDs..

Many are marginalised on the basis of gender, economic status, ability, sexual orientation or race and others may experience further marginalisation as a result of their intersecting identities.

I have seen it all. From stereotypes, name calling, been overlooked and criticised coupled with institutionalized barriers to access resources and support. The way I was treated often left me feeling sad, frustrated and confused, leading me to blame and doubt myself for something that was not my fault.

Realising our strengths and potential is paramount; I decided to use the stones thrown at me as a youth to build a support group, called Key Populations Uganda. The group is a nonprofit organisation, where marginalised youths are involved in empowerment sessions to better their lives with care and support. We are involved in various social actions from HIV Rights advocacy to health and safety as well as addressing various forms of oppression such as discrimination and stigma tendencies.

At Key Populations Uganda we provide safe spaces for youth to feel heard, empowered and supported. We offer a variety of counselling which helps marginalised youth process their experiences, develop new coping skills and address barriers to emotional well being. We do this in addition to advocacy for meaningful youth participation in policy and programming processes.

I believe that standing together we can all end marginalisation and oppression in society.

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