Three Ugandans are among the exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth who have been recognized by the Queen of the United Kingdom for taking the lead in transforming the lives of others, despite the challenges they may have faced.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Program, now in its fourth and final year, identified 60 young leaders over a year, in honour of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne during her Diamond Jubilee year in 2012.
When Queen Elizabeth II became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952, she was only 26 years of age.
In celebration of her long commitment to and leadership of the Commonwealth, The Queen’s Young Leaders programme was launched to support and recognise young people, aged 18-29, who are leading the way transforming their own lives and lives of those around them across the Commonwealth
“The Commonwealth can only flourish if its ideas and ideals continue to be young and fresh and relevant to all generations,” the Queen was quoted as saying.
Following the ceremony on the 22nd June, Award winners including Elizabeth Mumbejja Kasujja, Stephen Katende, and Bazil Mwotta all from Uganda, will spend four days in the UK to take part in a residential development programme as part of the Award prize.
The programme includes workshops at Cambridge University, meetings with UK businesses leaders, and visits to life changing social action projects.
This year’s winners form Uganda:
Bazil Mwotta Biddemu
Bazil is dedicated to helping farmers in his community thrive. He is the founder of AgroDuuka, which helps farmers in Uganda access information about market prices for produce in their region. It is designed to act as a low-cost SMS platform to connect smallholder rural farmers directly to buyers, before and after their harvest.
To date, Bazil and his team have helped more than 800 farmers from 36 villages in Western and Central Uganda to gain a fair price for their produce. AgroDuuka has recently partnered with the Uganda National Farmers Federation, which is enabling almost five million farmers to have access to AgroDuuka.
Elizabeth uses technology to transform the lives of people living with mental health issues in Uganda. Her inspiration came after witnessing the stigma surrounding mental health in her community, and discovering that many mental health problems went undiagnosed due to a shortage of trained professionals and resources.
This led Elizabeth to co-found Clear Yo Mind, which creates secure online platforms for people to express their feelings and access free help from mental health professionals. Clear Yo Mind also offers a text message service, where users can request help, and secure one-to-one appointments with professionals outside of a hospital environment. Elizabeth is currently studying towards a Diploma in Psychology to further support her work.
Stephen works to ensure that children in rural areas of Uganda are able to complete their education. He is the founder of Kisoboka Africa, which runs School Community Banks in the rural districts of Lyantonde and Lwengo that allow parents to save, borrow and invest for their children’s education. In addition, Kisoboka Africa equips parents with entrepreneurial and agricultural skills to help start and run their own businesses.
The parents are also encouraged to engage with teachers to address any challenges their children are facing at school. Stephen and his team now work with 150 parents in two schools, and have helped over 400 children to acquire an education. The organisation is also starting to operate Young Savers and Investment Clubs in rural primary schools so that children can learn how to save money and boost their leadership skills.