“I call it a journey, because it has been a transition from a difficulty to a meaningful life” Stephania Nakamaanya says of her JA experience. She joined JA Uganda, in 2011 and credits JA for giving her exposure to different spheres of life.
As a teacher of Commerce and Principles of Accounts teacher, Stephania says her knowledge ended on the chalkboard. She did not know how to make a business plan, or how to do business practically to realize the profit and losses as she used to teach students. “JA has been an eye opener to me as I used to depend on salary alone. Now I have an agro-business and I don’t spend money carelessly,” she admits.
Asked which skills she values the most Stephania seems undecided. She mentions computer literacy: “To be honest, I didn’t have any idea of how to use a computer until experiencing JA!” She also mentions assertiveness. Stephania also credits JA for helping her build her self-confidence. “When I joined JA Uganda, my level of interacting with people was so low but with JA Uganda, I interact easily with people of different caliber; whether they are head teachers, local government officials, even in the state house.” Her exposure took her beyond Uganda to other countries. “I even got a chance of going to Norway, which, I never dreamt would happen. Another thing she did not dream of was owning a car. “I bought a car, changed my lifestyle and constructed a house of my own in town. My kids have gone to better schools. The first born is pursuing medicine and surgery and the last born is in form six but all with proper planning acquired in JA. No, I am not the same Stephania from 2011.”
|“With JA Uganda, I have discovered the magic in me; wherever I go people recognize and listen to me.” She has also learned the importance of hard work: “In 2015 my team was the national winner and represented Uganda in the African competition in Gabon.”|
Each achievement opens new doors for Stephania. She has attended various trainings of trainers which she says have enriched her technical capacity. “I also recently attended a workshop with British Council and attained a certificate to facilitate development training workshops.”
Stephania’s journey mirrors those of so many other young people who complete training in JA’s programs. In 2016 alone 22,000 students were trained by JA in Uganda. JA’s programs complement traditional academic learning, providing students with the skills they need to successfully navigate the world of work. Soft skills, like self-efficacy and self-confidence form the foundation upon which to build other success skills, like how to write a resume, how to interview, what to do on the first day of work, how to present yourself, receiving and giving feedback, working in teams, etc.
Against the backdrop of a wide skills gap in Africa’s job market and high unemployment, JA is equipping Africa’s youth to be better prepared for the world of work and teaching them how to succeed.