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The Two And A Half Years Journey Of A Slum Youth Documenter – “Stories Treat Mindsets, One Day A Story Will Change My Community

Blog by Simon Kayiwa,makindye

I was born and raised in a slum where people yearn for breathing space due to crowded houses, children half clad in rags yet filth and stagnant water surrounds the place and we burn chrismass tree leaves to keep away mosquitoes at night and other pests. Where houses stands on ground like drunkard men but never falling and a saucepan solicitously waits from the stove for its contents on probability but will never be amply filled if parents manage to get any. It’s not easy you know!.

 Am a youth and documentation-person in Makindye federation .Three years back I joined National Slum Dwellers Federation as a member in Twasakimu youth development group and picked interest in documentation later on as part of my individual contribution to the federation and the entire slum community which many ill describe as “the hopeless’’. My Hope being that through the Lens and a pen I will get to Change People’s mindset about slums. You can talk with someone for years, everyday, and still, it won’t mean as much as what you can have when you Sit to write and capture what communities are getting through and share with both national and the global audience online most importantly how slums are transforming every day physically and ideologically through both united and individual efforts or roles in various activities aimed to uplift society socially and economically

Except the passion for writing and willing to learn more. I had no single clue by then on the art of blogging despite having, had freshly graduated with a diploma in a journalism and mass communication course. For all that time surprisingly, neither a lecturer nor acoursemate let it be the writings in the full packed college library had ever pinched me on what nor how a blog or report looked like just like many young people in my village are. This was not until a heaven set opportunity hit my way and got spotted by region federation chairman Francis Ssebuguluse to attend a documentation training by ACTogether Uganda in 2014..There is the power in volunteering I should admit to students and that learning never ends when school stops or with in class walls but also Continues in things like volunteering and beyond. With this training I got from ACTogether Uganda they helped us in telling stories about where we come from.The training had been tailor made for youths from informal settlements with the aim of equipping them with skills to tell our own stories and writing reports through documentation.

The ACTogether country director by then Skye Dobson and Ssonko Isaac a documentation officer respectively took us through the process of blogs and pictures and stressed it that those two are great tools of communication. And i got to learn that, documentation with its entire package plays a critical role in every step of community development or activity of the federation and since that time I developed a stronger  passion about telling authentic stories of my hood through blogs and pictures and this website has featured me always and so perfectly .Two years now I have watched myself trying, I have watched myself doing a first blog, I have watched myself also failing here and there, I watched myself repeating the same mistakes and eventually i got it right by today

Being adocumentor requires a lot of sacrifice, discipline and determination. You have to give your Attention to the community and learn from others. It will help bring a story into life and ease the huge task for a documenter

My  journey as a documenter has been totally amazing and truthfully documenting has been one hell of a roller-coaster. But growing up from the ghetto  and savoring the slum life has only trained me to always fight hard and smart to achieve greatness. Some projects are easy and easily doable but I have also experienced a heap of hardness and tough moments that required I think go on my feet and from all the activities I have ever documented in I have always learned one extra thing about this field and about the community

A quick talk with me will notify you I am a proud slum boy more hopeful than I was 5years back when I literally used to call ghetto a” hell on earth ” because when i got documentation skills from ACTogether Uganda they gave me power to contribute to the change I wanted to where I Stay and am a believer so God is the anchor of my strength. And I believe one day a story will change the community and its mindset

They say, You only learn and grasp concepts more, when you teach what you learnt and already know to others. For the last one year till now I have been sharing the skills I obtained from ACTogether to my fellow youths in the ghetto whenever I get a chance to do so and this has helped me much to grasp the concept of documentation recently was the Youth Festival held at Makerere varsity freedom square where my documentation colleague from the slum dwellers federation Kawempe region and I  “exhibited” skills specifically in blogging.


Among the youths who visited our tent was Daniel Mutyaba a second year student of law at Makerere University whom we took through a process from writing a blog to creating a blog site and relevancies of blogs to career and community development .Daniel promised to start  his own blog site and we followed him the next week.


As a youth in the documentation one has to have as much passion as Daniel and work twice as hard as possible to come up with a half of what the  professionals do but I strongly believe if one believes in themselves then they can do and achieve everything no matter their levels of education or whether one attended school or not and this reminds me I can’t be lazy and I should never expect favors just because I am a youth and am from a slum or you never attended school. Hard work is all you have to practice all the time. Besides, seek proper advice from knowledgeable people. As a documenter I get motivated when I see young people from informal settlements going through these kind of skills empowering trainings like ACTogether Uganda has been availing to the slum youth community and coming out as individuals who can not only practice some of these documentation skills in volunteering but also use the same as a form of income generation to uplift their standards of living.

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ACTogether, established in 2006, facilitates processes that develop organizational capacity at the local level and promote pro-poor policy and practice in Uganda’s urban development arena.



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