Hakim Owiny: The constant learning opportunity YMH brings is crucial to bridging all aspects of inequality gaps in Africa

My name is Owiny Hakim, Ugandan by nationality, and I am 37 years old. My area of study in public administration focuses on leadership and human & social development. I pursued all my formal education in Uganda. I am currently head of activation, advocacy, and compliance at eBee Africa. My passion for working with communities to address pressing communal issues has enabled me to attain skills in working with local leaders and community members, and this has helped me to mobilize stakeholders in all community activism work I have done. My dream is to hunt for leadership skills that enable me to lead and empower people to attain self-respect, confidence, and inclusiveness of others regardless of human differences. 

I first learned about Youthmakers Hubb in 2018 during the team’s visit to Kampala International University, at an academic event they had organized to promote collaboration between African and European youth. During this event, they shared how African youth can leverage the Erasmus scholarship to acquire skills and cultural exchange and trigger new inspiration on how we can build better communities and a better world together.

Being in this space of leadership and responsibility, I am internally compelled to hunt for any learning opportunity that empowers me and enables me to translate my empowerment into improving the lives of others. 

The continuous learning opportunity that Youthmakers Hub brought to my community in Uganda made it possible for me to continue learning

Since my first encounter with YMH in 2018, I have participated in several activities they brought to my Uganda community. The recent one was a bootcamp they organized in 2023 in Kampala with the AfriConEU project. This activity was skill-enriching in terms of leadership, design thinking, problem-solving, and networking. 

The technical skills Youthmakers Hub’s programs offer in terms of design thinking, leadership, taking action, and networking both locally and internationally are life-impacting values that will forever remain appreciated. I will continue to hold high regard for the team and encourage my community to take advantage of YMH programs whenever they organize an activity in my country.  

The skills I gained in the training Youthmakers Hub did at my University helped me get selected for a prestigious leadership training in America in 2021; this allowed me to travel and participate in a leadership fellowship, which also came with a chance to network with other young African leaders who were participating in the program. Before that, I didn’t have the courage and the confidence to take advantage of such an opportunity. In addition, I learned how to sympathize with local community social issues like education, health, environment, and water and take simple steps in mobilizing community members to address these challenges.     

The constant learning opportunity YMH brings is crucial to bridging all aspects of inequality gaps in Africa. Any acquired knowledge becomes a skill only when a learner translates it into a valuable tool to address individual and community challenges and create values in their locality or beyond. In my case, I have organized several community activities to shed light on some of the issues we face in my local community, like environmental degradation and inclusive road fractures, and also create awareness among community members about the challenges of climate change and how we can work together to mitigate it.

Recently, I launched an advocacy activity aimed at reducing air pollution in Kampala; this advocacy activity is about safe cycling lanes. The flagship for the activity involved cycling from Kampala to Nairobi as a way of getting the attention of policymakers to formulate policies that allow the differentiation of non-motorized lanes in all road networks in Kampala, as a way of encouraging people to adopt cycling as a reliable climate-smart means of transport. This is a clear testimony of how participating in YMH programs has empowered me to think using a problem-solving approach and build relationships with stakeholders that translate into addressing some of the community’s challenges.   

Participating in YMH programs has enabled me to network with local partners in Uganda. This has allowed us to share leadership challenges, and together, we can team up and forge a solution to address issues affecting our communities. 

One of the memorable moments with YMH was during the commencement address at leadership training at Kyambogo University. YMH invited Mr. James Bulenzibuto as a guest speaker, and during his speech, he talked about planning as leaders and taking action. One of his speech lines that remains with me to date is “The only way to start is to start”. It provoked profound inertia within me to lead by taking action on any immediate issue. This memorable event motivated me to take on a two-month walking journey in three countries, covering 2421 km in the cause of popularizing Africa Agenda 2063 among youth.   

Recently, during the Safe Cycling Lanes activism, YMH gave monetary support to the cause. This signifies a pathway of continuous relationship aimed at transforming communities and creating an enabling environment for further collaboration regarding knowledge-sharing and partnership. 

My participation in YMH activities has inspired me and enabled me to explore different alternatives on how to learn and lead in living a life creating value and transforming my community. This has helped me to engage high-level stakeholders at the government level regarding infrastructure development.          

Recently, I have engaged city authorities to consider integrating safe cycling lanes on roads in the city. In addition, I am engaging road users on the safety measures when using the streets in busy areas. Through YMH trainings, I have observed and appreciated the concept of “We are in this together, and we need to work together”. Being in a leadership position does not mean you are above everyone; it only means you have the opportunity to serve and transform people’s lives.