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U-reporter meets First Lady of Germany

UNICEF Uganda

Jennifer Anena, dedicated U-reporter and Ugandan school girl, travelled to Germany at the invitation of the First Lady to participate in the 2013 New Year Talk: “Via Text Message for Child Rights”.   Prior to leaving Jennifer said “I cannot wait to travel on a plane and meet German children like me”.

This was the first time Jennifer had left her home town of Gulu, Northern Uganda, but the journey was an important one because the First Lady of Germany, Daniela Schadt, had asked her to come and share her views and opinions on the best way to empower young people in furthering their rights; something Jennifer knows all about. 

Jennifer has been part of U-report in Uganda for over one year since she heard about the program while at school.  The UNICEF initiative enables Jennifer to share her views on a range of issues with 180,000 other U-reporters across all 112 districts of Uganda.  UNICEF analyses responses in real-time and uses the information for a range of advocacy, empowerment and service delivery efforts while supporting all UNICEF sectors and operations.

Prior to taking her seat on the panel Jennifer met with UNICEF Germany child ambassadors who were eager to hear how children are able to speak out on issues they care about it Uganda.  Jennifer said the children were “young, interesting and talked to me like they already knew me, we got on well”.   Despite coming from different backgrounds they quickly found common ground and a common cause on which they could relate “All of us are youth ambassadors, and our jobs are to talk about our rights, everywhere and together” Jennifer reported.    The German youth ambassadors Jennifer met are committed to setting up their own SMS communications having spoken to Jennifer.

Taking her seat on the panel alongside Oliver Ronneberg, Director of Nokia Siemens Africa, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, and former Uganda Country representative Martin Mogwanja, Jennifer fielded questions from the audience including the host; First Lady, Daniela Schadt.  When asked what kind of SMS issues Jennifer liked to be involved in she spoke of the need for improved education, but also access to jobs thereafter, with unemployment a massive problem for young people in Uganda.  Jennifer is also aware of the Post-2015 process, because of the regular U-report SMS communications on the issue, and she highlighted improved health as a key development need for Uganda.  The First Lady asked how she used her phone to this end and Jennifer explained that because she has a mobile phone she was able to send U-report SMSs on important issues any time of day and as many times as she liked and for free “and it is my responsibility as a young person to stand up and speak out on things happening where I live”. Jennifer and her friends back home especially enjoy the social aspect “when I receive the U-report text messages I discuss them with my friends in class and we reply with our views together” she told the audience.  

Having met the First Lady, touring Berlin and discussing child rights with German ambassadors we asked Jennifer what her favourite part of the trip was, she replied “seeing snow for the first time”.  As a young girl child Jennifer always speaks her mind and long may it continue.

UNICEF Uganda

 

 
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