Kampala, Uganda – Rebecca Acom was born in Amucha, a small village located in the Lira district in the northern part of Uganda and is committed to making a difference in her country. A graduate of Kyambogo University with a degree in special needs education, Acom has worked as a teacher’s aide at the Ebenezer Nursery School in the Wakiso district, working with deaf and mute children.
That is just one way Acom is serving her community. She is also taking part in IRI’s internship program which provides opportunities for skilled and passionate youth, like Acom, to gain work experience in a political environment.
As an intern for the JEEMA party, Acom’s talents and desire for supporting those with special needs has already proven to be an asset to the party. Acom participates in the party’s monthly civic education meetings known as barazas, where she serves as the sign language interpreter for the deaf and mute citizens who attend the meetings. Despite her young age, she is often selected by the national secretariat to represent the party at various events. For instance, Rebecca represented JEEMA as a panelist during the university forums which were conducted by IRI in the districts of Gulu and Mbarara.
Omar Kalinge Nnyago, the JEEMA secretary general, has said that using the skills of young people such as Acom is strengthening the party’s ability to reach out to and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities (PWD). Nnyago said of Acom, “Since Rebecca’s recruitment as an intern in charge of the special needs desk, she has single handedly ensured the representation of the disabled at the JEEMA chapter of Kyambogo University and has drawn in more PWDs to become members of the party. In the last month alone she was able to recruit 10 PWDs to join the party.”
Acom is just one example of the impact that talented young people are having political parties in Uganda. As part of the internship program, IRI worked with each party to identify their most pressing areas of need and then recruit young leaders with the skills to address those needs. A total of 44 applicants were interviewed and 24 candidates, including nine females, were selected to participate in the first in the program. In addition to JEEMA, the program has placed interns with six other political parties, including the Forum for Democratic Change, National Resistance Movement, Democratic Party, Conservative Party, People’s Progressive Party and the Uganda People’s Congress.
The internship program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.