My journey as a young humanitarian actor.

To be an effective worker all you need is a desire to help others, says Nancy Ongom.

I developed my passion for helping people in need at a young age. While growing up in a refugee camp (IDP Camp), I wanted nothing more than to help those who were suffering. To be a humanitarian actor, all you need to have is this desire. With it anyone can be a humanitarian worker whether young or old, individual or organisation.

When I was in primary school I was an active member of the children’s rights club (run by the Gulu Support the Children Organisation)  and I would write and recite poems to encourage other children and families whose lives were affected by the war that took place in northern Uganda. This was my first engagement in humanitarian practice. 

I got my break and discovered my true potential and calling when I joined Restless Development Uganda as a volunteer on their ICS program as a peer educator and youth reporter. This gave me the opportunity to work with a diverse group of young people to create lasting change in the rural communities of Uganda mainly through educating them around Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and teaching livelihood skills. On this programme I saw real change happen. 

After returning to my community, I completed further SRHR training so as to continue engaging and training young people in my community. Before lockdown and school closures, I was engaging young girls and boys on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). 

School girls make sanitary pads.

The Restless Development ICS program showed me the collective power of youth when they come together for a common goal. Young people have the power to create lasting change and build the kind of world that they desire. This realisation has spurred me on to join the  National Youth Engagement Network Uganda (NYEN).

The current COVID-19 pandemic means humanitarian workers are needed more than ever before. The  measures and restrictions put in place to control the spread of the virus, has disrupted SRHR services Gender Based Violence (GBV) has escalated and teenage pregnancies in Uganda have drastically increased. 

I strongly believe that young people can be the solutions to most of these challenges. For instance, they can easily use innovative media to reach their peers in order to increase access to SRHR information and services. 

That is why I’m proud to join the Youth Compact Champions program as it will give me the chance to continue promoting youth engagement, share my experiences and to learn from my fellow champions new ways to contribute positively to the lives of young people.

Nancy Ongom is currently taking part in the Youth Compact Champions initiative, which is bringing together 20 young humanitarian leaders from around the world to support the Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action. Find out more about the programme.

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My journey as a young humanitarian actor.

by Akello Nancy Ongom Reading time: 2 min