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Associate Professor Fred Ssewamala was born and educated in Uganda. He came to the United States for graduate school, and did not necessarily see himself as working on issues related to Uganda for his professional life. But after settling down in this part of the world, he found himself wanting to give back to his native land. For the past ten years, he has been designing interventions to help rural Ugandan youth stay in school and thus avoid the plight of ending up with HIV/AIDS.
Serving as a bridge between two such different cultures, it is not unusual for Professor Ssewamala to find himself speaking before audiences of Americans and other Westerners many of whom, while sharing his concerns about the plight of youth in sub-Saharan Africa, have never actually been to Uganda. They cannot begin to imagine the daily challenges Ugandan youth must face if they want to stay in school.
Recently, while interviewing Dr. Sswewamla about some joint research he is conducting with Dr. John Santelli, a colleague at the Mailman School of Public Health, the CSSW Communications Office asked him to describe a typical day in the life of a rural Ugandan youth—both as he remembers it and as he has since observed while conducting research on behalf of AIDS-orphaned/affected youngsters in the Rakai and Greater Masaka Districts (Southern Uganda). The story he told us is captured in this short video.