One of the highlights of working at MovingWorlds is amplifying the stories of our amazing partners around the world. In this post, we’re excited to feature Kyusa, an inspiring nonprofit increasing access to education and empowering agents of change.
We had the chance to ask the Kyusa team some questions, and we hope you enjoy learning about their story as much as we have… and if you feel motivated to support their mission, check out these current Experteering opportunities with Kyusa – if you’re selected you can live for free in Uganda:
1. What is the story of Kyusa, and how did it start?
Kyusa was founded in 2014 by Noeline Kirabo. Fourteen years earlier, in 2000, Noeline was declared at the top of her high school class and imagined going to university to become lawyer. But that same year, her mother, the breadwinner of the family, was diagnosed with cancer. Noeline was forced to drop out of school. Noeline’s family could no longer afford the school fees and her mother needed a caregiver while she was going through chemotherapy.
Noeline’s future seemed bleak and for several years she suffered from depression and hopelessness; there are little opportunities in Uganda for those without a diploma. But seeing her mother’s strength and resilience as she battled cancer inspired Noeline to take her education into her own hands.
She began by reading anything she could get her hands on. Then, she discovered the internet. She spent hours researching and learning different topics through google. One day she stumbled upon a new resource- massive open online courses, or MOOCs. She took dozens of courses, adding each certification to her resume. In 2006, she secured her first job with an NGO- a job she got over candidates with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. After eight years of working in counseling and social work, she decided to found Kyusa. She is currently completing her bachelor’s degree online.
Through Kyusa, she has found a way to replicate her success for other out of school youth.
2. What does your organization do, and what is its social impact?
Kyusa is a nonprofit in Kampala, Uganda that empowers out of school youth in urban slums to turn their passions into sustainable careers. The organization addresses the lack of the economic opportunity for school dropouts through an innovative, holistic program. Through the use of free online courses, mentoring, skills development and entrepreneurship training, Kyusa turns participants’ mindset of hopelessness into determination and confidence. Kyusa’s pilot class graduated on September 28th 2014. As a result of the program, 80% of the participants are either employed or have started their own venture.
During the training, facilitators teach a research-based curriculum composed of 12 modules that develop professional skills, computer skills, and financial literacy while also improving their self-awareness, self-confidence and self-management. In the afternoons of the first month, students complete a basic computer skills training so that in the remaining afternoons they are able to successfully complete an online course on the topic of their choice.
In order to graduate from the program, students must complete the online course as well as hand in an assignment for each of the twelve modules. Assignments help the participants continue to define their interests and plans- for example, a personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis or a life plan- as well as set them up for success when looking to start a venture or for employment- for example, a CV or a business plan.
After graduation, students participate in monthly alumni meetings where they update the organization and each other on their progress, network and support each other. During meetings, alumni may also receive additional workshops on common challenges they are facing.
Kyusa has been designed to meet the following long-term
- To develop a culture of life-long
- To empower youth to develop passion driven, sustainable
- To provide the tools they youth need to earn a monthly income that allows them to break the cycle of poverty.
3. What is one interesting thing that most people don’t know about your organization?
At Kyusa, we believe that the solutions to the hardest, most intractable world problems can be solved by harnessing untapped potential. And we believe the key to tapping into potential is passion. It has been referred to as intrinsic motivation, or being in a flow state, but we call it passion. Your passion is the fuel that keeps you running when everything else in you gives way. It allows you to work harder and more creatively at a task. Your passion opens the spigot to your potential. That is why we specialize in passion-driven education at Kyusa.
4. What is one interesting thing that most people don’t know about Kampala?
Kyusa is located at an intersection of three major urban slums in Kampala. We border the slum of Bwaise which is popular for floods during the rainy season due to poor drainage systems and unplanned housing structures; we also border Kawempe which is popularly known for the red light business that mainly attracts young girls who are looking for means of survival and the other side we border Mulago-nsoba that is popularly known for young boys who specialize in scrap collection. It is an interesting location on the out skirts of the capital city of Kampala that strategically positions us where our target beneficiaries can reach us. In spite being an urban location, it is a community that is highly affected by high school dropout rates, youth unemployment and poverty.
5. What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
The story of Isaac K…. Isaac came to Kyusa because he couldn’t afford to continue his education. He was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life but he knew he needed a job. When he first came to Kyusa, he was keen on becoming a business entrepreneur. Deep down he knew had a passion for football and a desire to nurture young people, but it didn’t seem to him to be a valid career interest.
Today, Isaac is the founder and head coach at K. Isaac Football Academy in Nabweru and a science teacher at a primary school. Through our three month training program, Isaac identified his passion, verbalized it into a purpose statement, set goals for himself, identified the skills and resources he would need to be successful, and created a plan to achieve his dream that took into account his financial needs. He is happier and more satisfied with his life than he thought he would ever be.
Through the academy and the school, Isaac is working with 30 young people, empowering them, nurturing them, and teaching them. That is the true power of Kyusa: a multiplier effect led by our alumni like Isaac, and Henry (who has started a social enterprise that benefits 30 vulnerable children), and Julius (who started a catering company that has created six jobs), and Sharon (who is currently employed as an office assistant in one of the clearing and forwarding agencies in Kampala). Each one of our alumni is leveraging their passion to develop a career (3 months after the program our alums are making 50% more income than before the program) and make a difference in their communities.
Uganda, like all countries, suffers from a myriad of difficult challenges- unemployment, illiteracy, violence against women, and the list goes on. Through passion-driven education like our training program we can solve these. Thanks to the natural diversity of interests we have, we can be sure that someone will be passionate about addressing each of these challenges. And because they’re passionate, they will put their most productive and creative selves towards it.