male ugg slippers Ugandan kids reinventing the wheel
Youth unemployment is rampant in the east central African country, with reports by international bodies, like the African Development Bank, putting estimates as high as 83%.
But one former street kid, Innocent Byaruhanga, is hoping to turn things around. In 2011, Byaruhanga launched Pamoja, a center working with former street children and vulnerable youth to produce sustainable shoes out of disused tires.
“What we did was come up with [an] idea that can give skills to these children,” says Byaruhanga.
A former street child himself, Byaruhanga is well aware of what hundreds of vulnerable kids are being exposed to dangers like substance abuse,
crime, lack of nutrition, exploitation and stigmatization.
Not only that, but for every pair of shoes produced and sold, Pamoja shares the profits with the youthful cobbler, in turn allowing them to support themselves.
“We want to surprise the entire Uganda as a nation. We want to set up an industry,” Byaruhanga says full of vigor. “Young people should be the ones to lead, to make decision making.
“We want to create jobs for the youth, we want to create jobs for former street children, and also the orphans.”