By Garland Smith
U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac traveled to southwest Uganda, Nov. 5, for a ceremony to commission the Community Volunteer Initiative for Development (COVOID) Youth Empowerment Center in Rubirizi. Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) Garland Smith played a key role in creating the learning center, which encourages self-empowerment and socio-economic development among young people in the community. Smith’s desire to help marginalized youth access opportunities for personal growth, alongside COVOID’s goal to help youth develop employable skills, collectively formed the successful project.
COVOID, a Ugandan NGO, focuses on assisting women and children and implements programs that address livelihood, security, social welfare protection, health and environmental sustainability. COVOID is proud to have more than 67,000 beneficiaries in six districts within the region. The Peace Corps partnership with COVOID began in 2011, and the organization has hosted four PCVs since its inception. PCV collaboration has helped the youth center to expand and thrive over the years. The partnership has also included initiatives to build rain-harvesting water tanks and to establish a community football team.
“COVOID, as an organization, looks at the learning center as a facility that addresses the structural need to provide empowerment opportunities to the youth in many aspects of socio-economic development,” stated COVOID Executive Director Ben Bataringaya at the ceremony. “I, therefore, would like to use this opportunity on behalf of COVOID, and on my own behalf, to thank [the] Peace Corps for the grant support. I also thank Garland Smith for this important innovation which COVOID is using to further supplement the efforts of the Ugandan government in fighting youth unemployment in Uganda.”
Garland Smith is a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda.