I’d like to introduce Victor Ochen to you. He’s one of the most inspiring and socially-engaged people I met in my life.
With Victor in Kampala, just on the day of his return from NY.
Victor, 33, is a social entrepreneur whose non-profit organisation, African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), celebrates 10th anniversary this year. At the moment, the organisation is based in Lira, Uganda, his hometown. Very soon Victor is planning to expand to other African countries to create a Pan-African youth organisation. On AYINET’s website, we can read:
We work directly with victims of brutalities suffered during the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Government of Uganda (GoU) hostilities. We focus our work in three critical areas: health and psychosocial rehabilitation for those who have suffered from grave injuries and crimes, engaging people and communities in the transitional justice process, and empowering and training youth in leadership skills.
Victor with the Secretary General.
Let me tell you how I heard about him. Well, you might be surprised but we actually have some mutual friends on facebook. Victor participated in Model International Criminal Court (MICC) meeting in Krzyżowa (Kreisau), Poland where he met my high school Politics teacher who recommended me to meet him in Uganda:). I thought he wouldn’t be able to meet as he’s as busy as the most influential businessmen, but I was positively surprised that he could make it. We met in a café on the same day as his flight back from NY.
Victor is a very open-minded and knowledgeable person who understands Africa from insight but in the global context. He never rests from his international travels to places like NY or the Hague where he speaks to the ICC.
Victor says that his main objective is to show a good image of Africa to the world because so far everyone is just focused on the stereotypes and wounds of the past. Barely anyone can say anything positive about the Continent. Victor becomes a voice of the new generation of Africans, not just Ugandans. He believes that it’s high time to take an initiative in social life especially by empowering the most disadvantageous from the countryside.Victor is not interested in state politics so much but rather in grassroots movements.
We talked a lot about his mission and achievements and I found out he is indeed very modest about himself. His next and probably biggest dream is the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination was one of the biggest surprises in his life. He was in the Hague when the America Friends Service Committee called and told him the great news. This year Victor competes with people such as… Pope Francis, Ban Ki Moon and Edward Snowden.
The announcement of the Award, the Big Day for Victor, is on 9th October this year which coincidentally is… the Ugandan Independence Day. Victor told me he wants to change the meaning of independence if he had the honour of being the Laureate. Independence for Uganda and Africa is not fully understood yet because people don’t take charge of their future and social potential. The Nobel Prize for Victor and AYINET would be, then, the Nobel Prize for Africa which reconciles with its past and its stereotypes. The question remains: is Africa awaken yet? We will see in 3 months time. Fingers crossed, Victor!
Victor amongst students.