Mayanja’s passion for helping fellow youths pays off

Suleiman Mayanja’s passion for helping others was triggered by a nasty incident.

When he was in P7 in 2003, his father was involved in an accident that left him mentally ill and unable to fend for his family. It was his mother who had to stepped in to make ends meet.

“My mother took over the full responsibility of taking care of us and she engaged in charcoal selling, vending clothes and later, the restaurant business. With the new restaurant business, we never lacked food. We were fed well and she even paid school fees for some of my siblings. I got motivated to help others who are in need,” Mayanja begins his inspirational story.

His family’s trials and tribulations later on led him to the Center for Education, Leadership and Enterprise Development Initiative (CELEDI Ug), a community based organization that skills young girls and fellow youths.

“Drawing inspiration from mum, I started the organization to help train youth both boys and girls in different skills such as basket weaving, tailoring, hairdressing, chalk making and soap making to equip them with skills to ensure they are self –sustaining. I realized there are so many unprivileged youths who need someone to empower them to engage in income generating activities so as to supplement their family needs,” Mayanja says.

He says he established a training centre in Bulenga, Wakiso district where the youths go for training on a daily basis.

Turning point

He explains that his turning point came when he met a group of women weaving baskets for sale. He was inspired by their success stories.

“With the inspiration I already had, I realized this was my entry point into helping out unprivileged youths. I could start a similar project to benefit many youths who were unemployed in my area so they could in future create their own employment,” he says.

According the 32-year-old, he started the project with savings from his cosmetics business which he used to pay the rent for the training venue. In addition, each youth had to pay shs10,000 and this was used to purchase weaving materials.

“Our vice chairperson had an introduction and ordered for 40 baskets. This was the first batch sale the project received which boosted it,” he says.

Mayanja says the centre was lucky again when they received an an international visitor Steven Colestock from Philadelphia, USA who bought nine baskets from the project and resold them in the US and  later transferred the funds to the project to further ignite it.

He says Lawrence Patrick, the CEO of Mehiel Foundation was instrumental in supporting CELEDI’s projects such as establishing the training center and sponsoring an annual youth football tournament.

“We were also able to set up a football academy and a kindergarten for vulnerable children, a girls reusable sanitary pads project, vegetable growing project and an annual food donation project among others,” he says

According to Mayanja, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of people including youths were affected but luckily, they received support from Private Sector Foundation Uganda and Mastercard Foundation where they mobilized 200 youths and equipped them with various skills.

“We identified them from worshipping centers such as churches and mosques, from local council authorities, markets and communities. We trained them for three months in different skills including basket weaving, catering , photography and videography, shoe making  and digital marketing . I am happy to report that after the training, some youths started their own enterprises whereas others were retained at their attached training centers,” an excited Mayanja says.

Mayanja says his organisation’s plan is to get more training equipment for the centre so as to offer better skills to youths.

“We also hope to upgrade to the level of an NGO in order to extend our services to upcountry remote areas where the youth are in much need of our skilling programmes,” he says.


Mayanja has a piece of advice for fellow youths.

“Luck comes from hard work. They should keep in mind the reason for what they do and how it benefits the people around them.”

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