October 21st, 2016

Young Changemakers

Victor Ochen, Uganda

Young Changemakers

Born in a conflict-scarred part of northern Uganda, Victor grew up in refugee camps for internally displaced people. His childhood was a constant struggle to survive disease, hunger and war. His dreams were always hostage to the possibility of sudden and brutal terror. In 2005, at the peak of the violence that was ravaging his country, Victor formed the African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) to help the innocent victims of war and mobilise Ugandan youth in support of peace in the country.

Today, AYINET is a youth-led human rights organisation that facilitates rehabilitation, surgery and emotional healing for those affected by the violence in Uganda. It also provides leadership training to young people who could not complete school because of the war. In the ten years since it was established, AYINET has supported over 9,000 people who have suffered physical or psychological damage as a result of the conflict. It also helps female victims of sexual violence and exploitation to cope with their suffering and reclaim their future.

Victor and his young team hope their work will heal divisions in the country and their efforts to build a safe and peaceful country will pay off soon. Victor was named the Pan-Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year in 2015, the same year that AYINET was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

© The Commonwealth