As founders, we are motivated by that love of Christ
to practically touch the lives of the young people to whom the future belongs. No greater love can any of us show other than laying down our gifts, talents, knowledge and wealth for those who are sick and ‘wounded’ due to lack of knowledge, essential skills and knowledge for survival, food, shelter, clothing and peace. By giving hope to those who are least among us, we can determine the turn of events in the future. Our lives are not measured by how much we have but by what, and who we are in the eyes of those who are struggling especially the young and the deprived. The call to share is everyone’s job, which we cannot afford to ignore in such a divided and a “turbulent” world. That is why as a SOCIETY we partner with all organisations, institutions, churches, and individuals that share such values of practical love.
Our vision and mission
The vision and mission of the Youths As Volunteers Integrated Network Society (YAVINS) is to enable the youth to undertake projects designed to make a meaningful and lifelong contribution to their psychological, physical, health and social wellbeing, to empower them to make a change to the social welfare of other marginalised people in their immediate and extended networks.
Objectives of the society
- To promote the plight of marginalized children especially orphans; as an integral part of youth activites. This includes but not limited to educational support, shelter, health and nutrition.
- To bring together youth from various backgrounds for the sake of developing meaningful and friendly relationships geared towards behavioral change through positive living.
- To mobilize professionals and adults of all ages from diverse academic backgrounds or experiences towards youth empowerment programs.
- To encourage youth from diverse backgrounds to learn and work cooperatively and collaboratively using modern technological communication information networks to disseminate relevant information and education in arrears of health especially HIV/AIDS prevention and other preventable diseases that are threatening social stability.
- To promote the spirit of volunteerism and group participation among youth of various professions in the day-to-day social challenges and activities aimed at poverty alleviation, disease control and prevention. Volunteer activities are centered on reaching out to marginalised youth through whom we can help the children.
- To engage and mobilise youth towards the promotion of positive living as young people with an aim of controlling the spread of killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS, through various public health methodologies such as; the provision of preventive tools or materials, awareness meetings, recreation activities, voluntary counselling, testing, hygiene education and the promotion of early treatment-seeking behaviour.
- To assist youth with disabilities to empower and equip them with sustainable and essential life practical skills.
- To work with youth in developed countries to mentor them to appreciate their own local and traditional culture and understand the networks of social, welfare and educational opportunities available to them. Through international field visits to marginalised and less advantaged communities, they can better appreciate other social structures and networks and how these can assist developing communities. International field visits are focused on Uganda East Africa.
- To promote and encourage respect for human dignity among youth without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, culture or religion; aimed at reducing the incidences of prejudice and such negative behaviours that are threats to the stability and wellbeing of communities and societies globally.
- To share high quality educational resources and materials for the sake of promoting literacy, as well as assisting social and attitudinal change in Rakai District Uganda.
- To partner with umbrella organisations such as academic bodies like schools and universities, colleges, non-government organisations, religious institutions and specific government sectors. This is aimed at establishing a global community of concerned volunteers and local organisation networks that have an express purpose of supporting the youth of the world in developing and implementing educational and humanitarian projects.
- To promote female participation in the decision-making processes and engage females in participatory approaches and strategies to carry out social, educational and life skill programmes within marginalised communities.
- To promote social and economic development through group participation among vulnerable individuals. The aim is to encourage youths and women in Uganda to participate in social and development group initiatives for the sake of achieving awareness and wellness, in areas of health and poverty alleviation.
- We have plans in place, to have a department of social rehabilitation for Western Youth at risk and those that are in trouble with the law. Putting these juveniles in remand homes or jails is good but it is a short-term solution. With funding, we can make this a long-term strategy. With strict rules in place, this is possible. Most of the deviant behaviours can be addressed by social participation especially if such activities are in a different environment like rural Africa. We have plans to work with foreign governments like Canada and others, their respective departments and institutions to send to us those socially troubled young people to participate in our community programs. In this particular restrictive and regulated department, we want to give these youth a second chance in life so that they can be part of a productive generation and workforce in their respective countries when they return home. This particular program is for the youth only. Our rural social participatory programs will ensure that this positive and social change is achieved as portrayed in our mission statement.
- By engaging young people around the world, we look forward to a future world of well-equipped leaders. The world today is full of people who are divided along social, economic and ethnical lines. At YAVINS, we aim to bridge those gaps by bringing together young people from diverse backgrounds, races and communities to work together on projects and empower them with sustainable tools and life skills. The skills they learn from these projects will be essential mechanisms for change and will foster a new bred of leaders with cultural sensitivity and awareness.
- We believe in young and old, rich and poor, working together to share skills, knowledge and create lasting social networks that will be the impetus for change.
- Every indigenous community where we live has been affected in one way or the other by the incidences of illiteracy, poverty, disease, sexual abuse, prejudice, stress, suicide, depression and inefficiency. Problems like HIV/AIDS affected every society today. These problems are some of the main focuses of YAVINS.
- At YAVINS, we believe that we can make a difference by engaging the youth who are the leaders of tomorrow. We can empower them with life’s experience, skills knowledge and apprenticeship. By empowering them, we can make them useful citizens within their respective communities.
- YAVINS works under a management team of reputable Directors also called the Board of directors. The organisation is headed by a Patron who also serves as the president for the organisation’s international activities. The organisation has a membership of many international volunteers who form the assembly.
Rakai District was created in 1980 and is comprised of the former counties of Masaka District established in 1967 when Buganda Kingdom was subdivided into districts. The main Language is Luganda however, other languages, such as English is spoken or understood by a majority of the population.
- Currently the organisation is represented by area volunteer coordinators, with at least one volunteer coordinator residing in each continent around the world. The volunteer coordinator serves as the point of contact for organisations, groups and individuals that have an interest in engaging in an international field visit to Uganda, East Africa.
- YAVINS has a secretariat, which is comprised of five (5) fulltime staff being; Executive Director, General Secretary, Finance officer, Senior advisor and director of training, and a Human Resources Officer.
- The society operates in Kyotera County, Rakai District in Uganda Africa. The society has activities in Canada mostly aimed at awareness campaigns and mobilising Canadian youth towards volunteer activities and initiatives.
- Plans are under way to extend these activities in other geographical areas, as it may deem necessary with the availability of funds.
Rakai District Profile
- Rakai District boarders the districts of Masaka in the North, Lyantonde in the North East, Bukanga in the west and the peoples’ United Republic of Tanzania in the south.
- It has a population of 471,806 people, 239, 544 males (as per the 2002 census). The district has two (2) major banks, which are; Stanbic bank and Centenary Rural development bank.
- Economic activities include agriculture and fishing. Agriculture is one of the major activities in the area with emphasis on food crops such as Cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, sorghum, bananas and finger millet. Cash crops include coffee, fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, pineapples, onions and cabbage. Cattle keeping and grazing is also a main economic activity for the people of the community.
Major Social Problems
- The major social catastrophe in the area, as in most of Africa, is HIV/AIDS. The HIV prevalence in Rakai-Kooki is 15%, significantly great than the national average. Thousands of children have lost one or both parents to this disease with many children left to care for their siblings. Uganda’s first HIV/AIDS cases were reported in 1982. Since then, HIV/AIDS has placed a large strain on the health services of the government and families. It is anticipated that it will take generations to overcome the devastating effects of AIDS especially in the African community.
- The Rakai District also lost a lot of its infrastructure in the 1979 in the war against Idi Amin. The communities in Uganda are still suffering from the effects of civil wars.
- Community based organisations (CBOs) like YAVINS, are the hope and solution to tackling the problem of HIV/AIDS. There are many areas of social concern caused by the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS that have not been addressed due to the limitation of funds available by the government and other stakeholders.
- Most people draw water from unprotected wells, unprotected water sources (such as ponds and drainage channels) and rainwater tanks exposing them to water-borne diseases and a range of hygiene and health issues. Others walk many miles to access water. Lack of clean drinking water has exposed many children to sexual abuses and placed them in threat of being sacrificed by witchcraft practices, as children walk unprotected to fetch water far distance away from the family home. The water problem has also resulted in a high rate of school dropouts since it is the children that bear the burden of fetching water for their aging and dying parents for the household to use and are often too physically exhausted to attend school, which is also some distance from the home. The lack of clean drinking water is possibly the biggest threat facing Uganda’s children.
- Rakai District lacks sufficient health facilities with only two (2) health centers in the area. These are rarely stocked with sufficient medical supplies like essential drugs essential for the treatment of malaria, which is one of the most common illnesses that kill many Ugandan children and youth. There are also insufficient ambulance services available in times of medical emergencies. This has led to high mortality rates especially maternal related deaths due to preventable problems like malaria and maternal complications. There is a server shortage of trained nurses and midwives and those that are working in the area are in desperate need of support. The immediate help is from the traditional births attendants who have no formal training but need basic training in areas such as hygiene and others.
- Fieldwork and volunteering activities are not only beneficial to individuals in places like Africa, but it is the best strategy to living a health life-style while helping others. Eating health food that Africa provides and physical activities or participation is a great strategy in weight loss and averting health-related threats like heart disease and others. This is because of the fact that, in our rural communities in Africa, most products like sugar-stuffed products are either not available or are discouraged. Needless to say that, such health problems are so prevalent in the rich Western societies but are also becoming big health threats in Africa due to lack of awareness and recent changes in lifestyles.
Other problems in the district
As if the above problems are not enough, these are some other broader problems in the district that we hope to address in our programs:
- Psychological effects due to being abandoned as a child and left orphaned. This is a big problem especially among the children that live on their own (child-headed homes).
- Domestic violence and child sexual abuse.
- Widows and orphans’ property disputes. Most children and women end up losing custody of their family property to relatives and strangers due to lack of legal support, advocacy and representation.
- Lack of maternity facilities for expectant mothers.
- Single motherhood and feminization of poverty.
Social problems in comparison to a Western country like Canada
Canada’s social problems are not comparable or proportional to those in Uganda. With Canada being a welfare State, there is a system of social support in place and an emphasis on the State providing for the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. This is not the case in Uganda, which has no social welfare system operated by the government. Additionally, the H.I.V prevalence rate in Canada was 0.3% as compared to 4.01% in Uganda in 2007. The effects of HIV/AIDS are therefore more of a social problem in Uganda. These social problems, and many more, are facing Ugandan youth everyday, so it is imperative that we do something about it to help the next generation of Ugandans overcome these issues and thrive as leaders in their communities.
Youth As Volunteers Integrated Network Society’s Impact
We believe there is a great social benefit in empowering the youth of the world mostly through awareness programmes and through international field trips uniting them for a noble cause. Contributing to other communities encourages youth from welfare States to appreciate their own societies. The identification of social and educational problems can be achieved through awareness meetings, participation and public campaigns and then these issues can be addressed and overcome through the use of social amenities and facilities and interactive programs designed to educate and empower those most in need and vulnerable. Youth from welfare based countries, like Canada and others, have a lot to offer to their counterparts in marginalised societies like Uganda.
The YAVIN Society intends to support more youth especially those at risk in developing communities through international humanitarian volunteering, community involvement and participation in youth programs and international field placements. The society’s volunteers’ initiatives and programs are continuous through the calendar year as long as volunteers available and programs are operating.
Youth as Volunteers Integrated Network Society (YAVINS) is a consortium of local area projects and initiatives with a management infrastructure aimed at supporting knowledge dissemination, development research and community outreach. The organisation is honoured to have a visionary, an energetic and an internationally experienced patron and president.