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Emergency Trust Fund for Africa
News article14 August 2018

Jacob, a refugee from South Sudan living in Uganda, is learning how to tailor for a better future


He is a rare sight – one of only two men sitting at the sewing machine in a class of twenty-two students. The room is quiet, only filled with the clicking sound of the machines. Today the students are making baby dresses and, every now and then, the young man lifts up his piece of fabric as if to admire the work taking shape.

23-year-old Jacob Akoy is a refugee from South Sudan. Just a few years back it would have been hard for him to imagine himself in this setting. When the war broke out in South Sudan in 2013, he was a first year student at Juba University, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. His father was killed in the fighting. Jacob, his mother and his six siblings fled to Uganda.

Living at Rhino Camp refugee settlement for the last four years put a halt to his studies but “the war did not end my dreams,” he says now with a soft smile. “Everything changed when I heard a radio announcement for the training courses at Siripi Skills Training Centre, here at the settlement,” he adds. Akoy submitted his application and was invited to an interview.

The centre offers different courses, such as bricklaying, catering and hotel management and carpentry. “I chose to study tailoring because it is a marketable skill that I hope to one day use to earn money and help my mother take care of the family”, he explains.

In the future, Jacob still wishes to finish university. For him, tailoring may serve as a stepping stone to achieve his long-term dream of becoming a successful businessman. “I will save some of my earnings and hopefully those savings will help me return to my studies and complete my university education. I encourage my friends to take up skills training instead of staying idle in the settlement,” he says.


Enabel, the Belgian development agency has signed training agreements with several organizations through the European Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), including Welthungerhilfe. Overall, Enable is already training 860 young people via these programs.

In Northern Uganda, where the majority of refugees from South Sudan are resettled, the absence of vocational skills forms a major barrier for personal development and increased livelihoods. Furthermore, formal employment in the region is often scarce. Enabel provides the necessary expertise for skills training and entrepreneurial know-how for the targeted beneficiaries.

The training at Siripi Skills Training Centre uses three models: institution-based training (100 trainees), apprenticeship (50 trainees) and training through Farmer Field Schools (150 trainees).The centre offers five courses under the institution-based training: Bricklaying and Concrete Practice, Welding and Metal Fabrication, Carpentry and Joinery, Catering and Hotel Management and Tailoring and Garment Cutting.

Adolescents and youth are generally more vulnerable to protection and health risks, including early marriage, teenage pregnancy, unsafe sexual relationships, contracting sexually transmittable diseases, and violence. “Schools and places of informal learning can provide life skills training in a safe and protective environment, and help these youngsters manoeuvre through their daily challenges,” says Freda Anek, Skills Development Fund Manager at Enabel.


Publication date
14 August 2018
Region and Country
Greater economic and employment opportunities
WelthungerhilfeENABEL - Belgian Development Agency

Programmes in the region