23-year-old Ambrose Akanyihayo is a university student and the Youth Action Movement (YAM) Chairperson in our Member Association in Uganda. YAM is the youth arm of IPPF Africa Region’s volunteer body based within the Member Associations (MAs). In this article, Ambrose sheds light on his experiences as a youth volunteer with Reproductive Health Uganda.
"I joined the Youth Action Movement (YAM) in 2014. At that time, I was a Senior 6 student undertaking a volunteer internship program at Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU).
During that period, I got to learn a lot about RHU’s work with young people, including how the organization, through its clinics and outreach programs, provides sexual reproductive health information and services to them. I was impressed by how these services were provided in such a friendly manner, which made us (young people) feel comfortable.
At RHU, I got to learn more about the role that youth peer educators play in creating impact in the communities they serve. This they did by being members of the Youth Action Movement (YAM).
During my internship, I was involved in writing articles for a youth magazine. While researching on the articles -which included interviewing adolescents and young people, I noted that there was so much that RHU volunteer peer educators were doing in the local neighborhoods. They would take their outreaches to schools, churches, sports grounds and other places where young people frequently hang out.
I noticed that the volunteer peer educators were so passionate about what they were doing. It was so refreshing to see how committed they were in helping other young people gain information about their reproductive health. Inspired by their work, I decided to be a part of this winning team. That is when I joined YAM.
Being a YAM member entails helping fellow youth gain the necessary information to help them make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. It is about referring them for youth-friendly health services, with the assurance that they will be well-attended to. I am happy that all RHU clinics across the country offer youth-friendly services.
What Volunteering with RHU Means to Me
Being a YAM member is giving of oneself to helping other young people stay healthy. It is about service to my community. It is also about being a role model to fellow youth; inspiring them to change their behavior. For me, voluntarism, through YAM, is about creating change in the community especially among young people. It motivates me to know that a young person's life can change for the better just by the information we give them.
Being a youth volunteer is also about being the voice of the voiceless; speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak. I have learnt about advocacy by virtue of being in YAM.
My network has also grown, as being in YAM has helped me meet and closely interact with hundreds of other youth -both in and out of Uganda. We are all committed to a common goal as we share our diverse experiences and learn a lot from each other. We are all determined to be changemakers in our communities. You will be amazed at how fellow peers can build you!
I have found that being a YAM member also means learning something new everyday. We learn a lot about different aspects of reproductive health, including about new information on HIV and AIDS. RHU is committed to building our skills as young people and continues to offer us various capacity building opportunities with this regard.
My engagement as a volunteer and the experiences I continue to gain are invaluable to me as a young person looking to shape the future of my country. YAM, is indeed, a worthwhile initiative and I am glad to be a young volunteer with Reproductive Health Uganda. I encourage all other young people to join the movement as well!"
Story by Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, Governance and Compliance Officer, IPPF Africa Region.
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