I Dream of a United, Peaceful Africa, Free of Aid-Farouk Kibaba

Farouk Kibaba was one of PYA’s 100 Most Positively Inspiring African Youths last year,2017.While we celebrated his successes, we were most struck by the responsibility with which he saw needs and took the lead to solve problems in his community.We reached out to him to hear his story and savor some of his wisdom.

Take a read!

Tell us more about yourself

Farouk Kibaba is a social accountability and Peace Advocate who has made remarkable strides in developing, training and mentoring programs for youth communities in Uganda. A pan africanist, he is a self-motivated leader whose works have led to increased involvement of youths in non-violent conflict resolution methods through community led peace dialogues in Uganda and beyond.

He is currently the Executive Director for the Great Lakes Peace Center, a Youth led organization for which he earned a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) action Awards  2018 for the translation of SDGs into local languages in Uganda and the localization of the SDGs

He has previously served as an Advocacy Officer, specialized in community engagement and capacity building for a USAID Advocacy for Better Health project ,where he provided leadership on citizen empowerment and civic awareness.

Faruku has a 12 Years career with Rotaract Club, a youth wing of Rotary International and has served in different directorates including being a club President and Assistant Rotaract District Representative for Rotary District 9211- Uganda and Tanzania.

Faruku is trained in Positive Peace and Pillars of Peace by the Institute of Economics and Peace sponsored by the Rotary club of Ssese Islands and Rotary club of Lajjola Triangle-USA. He has used this knowledge to mobilize young people and cultural institutions as well as elders to champion   peace talks and empower young people to develop skills which keep them engaged and productive.

2-You grew up in the Rwenzori region of Uganda, a region plagued with political and tribal instability. What motivated you to show a better way by advocating for peace?

Haven served as a Boy Scout from the age of 10, I had gathered tremendous experience in  volunteering. This further fuelled my passion and desire for a career in advocacy and peace  at the age of 16. I was later trained and offered an opportunity to volunteer in one of the internally displaced people’s camps in Kasese during the Allied Democratic Forces rebellion in Kasese. While in high school, I spent my recess term offering peer education translation services to the youths while they sought health care in health centers, most of whom were from the Congo border areas with little or no knowledge of English or the local languages in Kasese Town.

After I received my bachelor’s degree in Economics, I found it important to continue my service with the Rotaractors, a group of young professionals in my community championing the spread of positive peace. We have been working together to build a peace infrastructure that would facilitate accountability and sustainability in the region while preempting the reoccurrence of violence. It is from this movement that we later formed an organization called the Great Lakes Peace Center, which promotes youth empowerment by building the  capacities of young men and women and encouraging them to run businesses, pursue careers, and employ others so that they can have a stake in the economies of their communities thus controlling radicalization.

3-Tell us a bit more about your organization, Great Lakes Peace Center, Uganda.

At Great Lakes Peace Center, we assess and acknowledge the underlying causes of  conflicts in a region and try to preempt the recurrence of such happenings in future. This is only made possible thanks to our collaborative efforts with regional organizations, governments, local people trapped in conflict and those affected and civil society organizations. We also do work in;

1. Peace Promotion and Tolerance: Globally, the question of peaceful resolution of a conflict has remained unanswered as it is always violence first then peace and reconciliation is thought of after  damage caused by violence. The Great Lakes Peace Center appreciates peace as an essential part of human existence. We do not imagine a life without peaceful coexistence; tolerance, equality, and respect for human rights of people and therefore, we strive ardently for such goals.

2. Advocacy, Peace Building, Conflict Prevention and Education: Using the pillars of peace curriculum designed to stimulate youths’ and adult’s critical thinking skills, strengthening their international knowledge and broadening their research skills, increasing their conflict resolution and leadership skills, and creating community based action plans for local solutions to conflict are some of the activities we work at.

3. Youth and Women Empowerment Activities & Community Programs: The peace center designs a leadership program targeting community youth groups, special needs groups and women focus on conflict management, peace building, and reconciliation to build networks of support within the community that empowers and enables young people to take action and make a change. Youths are opportuned to explore issues that relate to political violence, tribal conflicts and the development of  leadership skills to implement their own Global Call to Action Projects and other local programs within their respective communities.

4-Any particular reason why you chose youths and women as your targets?

As Great Lakes Peace Center we derive our mandate from the AU resolution AU/DEC630XXVIII that calls up on member states to eliminate gun violence by 2020. We work to ensure that the biggest percentage of the users and the most directly affected by gun violence- the youths tap from our efforts as they form a big part of the population tomorrow. We also recognize the United Nations Security Council resolution 2250 which calls for increased representation of youth in Peace building platforms to combat extremism.

It is also important to note that in order to harness the demographic dividends of the ever growing African Youth population, youth empowerment  could be one of the ways to tackle the challenges that prevent them from reaching their potential. Women like youths are an influential and pivotal part of society given their influence at family and community level. They have the potential to influence policy decisions, mass activities and are committed to development.

5-How have living conditions in your community improved thanks to your works?

1. The awareness and understanding of the concept of dialogue has increased levels of compliance and collaboration with local security agencies plans to nip violence at the bud.

2. Through our skill training programs for school dropouts and for family members directly affected by the 2016 violence in the Rwenzori region, income generating projects have sprouted ranging from beauty products like petroleum jelly, soap making to innovative ventures like collection/ extraction of maggots to dry and add in chicken and fish feeds. All these have improved not only the income but also the general well being of most families participating in the program.

6-What challenges do you face?

Insufficient seed/ start up capital for more trained youth to start up and sustain their small-scale ventures. Our skills training targets small ventures that require not more than $300 to start and can go as low as $100 to start up and are scalable for increased productivity and output.

Little private sector involvement in mentorship and placements of interested youth in production and value addition locally. This should be part of the corporate social responsibilities of such private organizations.

7-What would you call your biggest success story?

We were awarded finalist by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards for our flagship project of domesticating and localizing SDGs by translating them into local languages in Uganda. This was in the INCLUDER category which involves the reaching out to the otherwise would be marginalized and inferior communities. We did not only translate but also advocated for the goals and trained local governments to align their strategic plans to the SDGs.
8-What are you currently working on?

We are working on our inaugural Youth for Peace conference and awards are to be held in Uganda on 6th-8th June 2018. It will bring together youth from all over Africa to partake in a discussion that shall aim at creating a peace infrastructure in the Rwenzori region to avoid recurrence of violence.

We still have work on our ongoing SDGs domestication and localization project in Uganda as we support more districts to localize and translate the goals to their languages as Uganda has a lot of languages.

Our youth skilling work for income generation ventures is also still going on as we target to reach all the affected families of the 2016 violence in Rwenzori region.

We have started a climate action program for climate change resilience and preservation of Biodiversity that is called “Save the Rwenzori Glaciers.”The Rwenzori mountain are one of the UNESCO Heritage sites and only block mountain snow capped throughout the year, laying only 13 Kilometers astride the Equator. Its snows are increasingly melting as a result of increased warming.

A plan to have each Tourist visiting to plant a tree as they come across the Equator shall see more than 3000 trees planted monthly by tourists only and students from local schools and grown by the Uganda Wild Life Authority.

9-How do you see your organization in the next 10 years?

A leading policy think Tank in Africa for Peace Building and Economic Transformation. An organization able to train, research and develop scientific models to support academia and philanthropists.

10-Your African dream.

A united ,peaceful Africa free from conditional and tied aid.