Building advocates for Uganda's disadvantaged youth
LDP participants Japheth, Esther, Paul, Julius and Jacob celebrate together their joy in the Lord at a Compassion-sponsored conference.
Since Uganda's independence from Great Britain in 1962, this tiny East African republic has endured political, social, economic and cultural chaos. In addition, negative foreign influences have crept in through television, radio programming, movies and the Internet. The African AIDS pandemic has worsened the country's instability, destroying families and forcing children to take on more responsibilities than they can bear.
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Consequently, Uganda has experienced a decline in moral standards, especially among its youth-many have neither appropriate adult role models nor guidance to help develop them into responsible Christian adults. Without a vision for youth ministry, the Ugandan Church is unprepared to nurture the next generation. But Compassion Uganda's Leadership Development Program (LDP) is addressing this grave situation.
Empowering young people to become advocates for the rising number of disadvantaged Ugandan children is a primary LDP goal. Participants in the program-outstanding Christian young people who have successfully completed Compassion's child sponsorship program-receive college tuition assistance, Christian leadership training and mentoring. This assistance is equipping students to make a significant, positive influence at local, national and international levels. Many graduates plan to serve in government and in other organizations at the policy-making level.
Carefully designed not only to advance students' future careers, the LDP also serves to help deepen their relationships with Christ and build their characters. Thus far, Compassion Uganda has sponsored five training camps for the 42 students currently in the program. In addition, participants are involved in frequent Bible study discussions and LDP fellowships and enjoy games, talent shows, choir and outreach, which enhances their social development.
The 23 young men and 19 young women in Uganda's LDP training attend a variety of universities and training programs and hail from 25 Compassion-assisted projects in central and eastern Uganda.
LDP has already made a remarkable impact in the students' lives-many are active in youth and leadership programs in their various churches. And though they are from different backgrounds, the students are deeply supportive of each other, since they are bound by one vision-to know Christ and, as exemplary Christian leaders, make Him known throughout Uganda.