After studying agriculture at the Australian-funded Vocational Training Centre in Uganda’s Kyaka II settlement, Congolese refugee Manishimwe Shalom is now earning a farming wage to pay for his siblings’ education. He dreams of owning his own farmland soon.


After being officially inaugurated in September last year, Kyaka II’s Vocational Training Centre has celebrated its first batch of graduates. More than 200 young adults living in or around Uganda’s Kyaka II refugee settlement are now well on their way to meaningful careers, thanks to the training made available from Australian donors who funded the project.

Since graduating on December 12, 2019, around 50 trainees have already found jobs in hotels, garages and hair salons in the region.

Mugyenzi Mercy, a young Ugandan woman living in the host community, applies her catering and cookery training in a nearby restaurant. She is able to support her family, and eventually plans to open her own business.

Some of the first graduates from the Vocational Training Centre at Kayaka II refugee settlement

The skills and knowledge I acquired from Kyaka VTC helped me change to a more marketable profession within the shortest time possible,” says Mercy.

Shalom, who is now farming, says, “I was able to also train my family and neighbours about the modern ways of farming. I am proud to see that they are practicing what I tell them to do.”

Kyaka II hosts more than 100,000 people seeking safety from violence in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Of the 216 young people who earned certificates in catering and cookery, agriculture, mechanical repair and hairdressing, almost three-quarters were refugees – the remainder are Ugandan nationals.

The centre was built with the support of an Australia for UNHCR appeal that started in 2017.

It now caters to up to 250 students aged 15-25, and includes dormitories, a dining hall, staff accommodation, workshops and computer laboratory. Courses last for six months and the latest round of trainees began studying in January 2020.

Mercy (right) meets the career counsellor at the Vocational Training Centre at Kyaka II to update her on how the catering job is going. © Finn Church Aid

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