A group photo at re:publica23

Transformative Journey to Berlin: Advancing Responsive Open Source Modular Housing

Vuga William Liwa, the Executive Director of The Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), recently embarked on a transformative journey to Berlin. His participation in the renowned re:publica event at Arena Berlin and Festsaal Kreuzberg offered him a platform to share his innovative work. During the event, Vuga presented at the makerspace, where he discussed the ground breaking #ROSHOP Responsive Open Source Modular Housing Prototype. His trip culminated with a significant meeting with Robert Habeck, the second governing coalition member, head of the Green Party, and Minister of Economic Affairs, Climate Action and Vice chancellor of Germany.

#ROSHOP: Addressing Housing Challenges:

The #ROSHOP project aims to revolutionize housing in complex post-conflict and politically unstable environments, catering specifically to the needs of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and resource-scarce communities. By integrating media and digital culture, this pioneering initiative introduces modular housing prototypes that respond to the unique challenges faced by these marginalized populations. Initially developed at the Pagirinya Refugee Settlement, the project directly addresses urgent community housing needs.

Key Elements of #ROSHOP:

The success of the #ROSHOP prototype rests on two crucial elements: Experimentation with Local Building Innovation: The project focuses on improving and developing climate-responsive construction methodologies. It emphasizes techniques that enhance air circulation, maximize natural lighting within the structures, and promote the integration of rainwater harvesting and solar power. For instance, the use of sustainable “rammed earth” technology for building walls replaces traditional but environmentally harmful burnt bricks.

Collaborative Open Source Approach: #ROSHOP adopts a co-creation and innovation architecture that leverages physical and virtual interactions. The entire process, methodologies, and experiences are documented using collaborative open source tools like GitHub. This enables communities facing similar circumstances to replicate, adapt, and further develop the initial prototype. It also empowers teams involved in building the prototypes with valuable media and digital skills, fostering global connections and expertise exchange to create efficient building typologies in challenging environments.

The Fusion of Media and Architecture:

To bridge media and architecture, #ROSHOP incorporates familiar aesthetic components from local traditions and contexts. These elements are combined with innovative solutions to enhance functionality and create visually appealing structures. Circular modules inspired by traditional tukul forms can be combined with square-shaped elements to accommodate various activities. The roof constructions, utilizing locally available materials, are designed to allow ample natural light into the spaces, thereby creating more comfortable environments suitable for small schools or community gatherings. The project’s media aspect focuses on creating compelling digital documentation that transcends complex technical jargon, making the methodologies accessible even in low-literacy environments and across language barriers.

Vuga having a chat with Robert Habeck
Vuga having a chat with the vice Chancellor of Germany at re:publica 2023 in Berlin

Meeting with Robert Habeck: A Moment of Significance:

On the final day of the re:publica event, Vuga had the privilege of meeting with Robert Habeck, Vice-chancellor and Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action. This notable encounter provided an opportunity to discuss the #ROSHOP initiative in the context of the pressing global challenges related to cash, climate action, and economic empowerment. Such engagement with a high-ranking political figure promises to garner support and recognition for the project, amplifying its impact and opening doors for future collaborations.

Vuga William Liwa’s trip to Berlin for re:publica was a remarkable journey filled with knowledge-sharing and impactful interactions. His presentation at the maker space shed light on the innovative #ROSHOP Responsive Open Source Modular Housing Prototype, while meeting with Robert Habeck reinforced the project’s potential to address urgent housing needs and contribute to sustainable economic development in vulnerable communities. By merging media, architecture, and open-source methodologies, Vuga’s work exemplifies a visionary approach to creating scalable and replicable housing solutions for post-conflict and politically unstable environments.


What the Youth Calendar 2023 should look like!

By Bazio Doreen

Whether you started this year on a good note or a bad one, the year will roll and you will be expected to live life as it comes. Whether you started this year in a church or a holy ground OR in the bar celebrating your milestones as you watch fireworks; the days of the year will remain the same. On the 365th day later this year, what will matter is how you faced the challenges that you encountered. But be sure not to be the one that will have no achievement to celebrate! So how then can you ensure that you won’t be among those grumbling?

Learn a skill

The list of skills this life offers is insatiable, you just have to choose which one will be the most relevant to you. But do remember to make the right choice because all skills are indeed very important. Don’t do it for your friends, for competition, to show off, or for status updates. Do it because you have a passion to grow and want your life to have meaning. There are a number of sites and platforms online for all sorts of art and skills – you just have to be curious enough.

Hard work as a priority

Make your academic or career journey more than just a ritual; let it be the reason why you wake up every morning and want to keep safe. Let your graduation be more than an opportunity to take pictures for your ‘haters’. Career people and business gurus have one thing in common, they all love what they do and it fulfills them.

Discover your talent

We are told that we were all made in the image of God. If God is so talented, why then can’t we be? You must aspire to be an inspiration in your life. Sometimes, we think talent is what attracts attention and brings in money and yet talent could simply be defined as what you can do better than others. In an era where specialization is becoming a norm, strive to be among the ‘crème de la crème’. Unless of course, you don’t have ten fingers and ten toes in addition to a brain that works 24 hours like the rest. Whatever happened the phrase disability is not inability. Always remember that we are all equal in the eyes of God and society. The only difference between all human beings is their belief in themselves to grab opportunities. Be the one that tries!


Show me the people around you and I could guess your character. Your network could be your net worth. But only if you make the effort to transition it. If your network can’t make you grow, it is about time you cut it off or it will be the reason you will always be compared to your mates who will appear to be better. Of course, your opinion of self-worth is important, but let it be one that always ends in praise.


There is always a blessing in serving others. It may even be in the simplest form of helping those around you. Don’t be the one that always grumbles about how your leader or the government isn’t doing enough. Do your part in making a contribution to nation-building. Not that positive criticism is a crime, but don’t be like the bad workman who constantly blames his tools. Contribute as much as you criticize.


One of the best lessons I have learned in life is not to exaggerate my self-worth. Always reflect and have an improvement plan. Even the bible guides us that we should slow to anger. Emotional intelligence and maturity are virtues that need to be learned early in life for a long peaceful life. While people underrate peace of mind, it contributes a lot to the outlook people have on life and determines their attitude towards the challenges that come along. All the men of God were quick to make revelations of how this year is going to turn out. But I bet they didn’t show you how your life will turn out this year. The simple reason is that heaven has no seats for lazy people and God would want those that know the stretch of his power not to stretch it in the name of faith.







Enticing Refugee Girls into ICT

By Bazio Doreen

“To create a more diverse and inclusive tech world, we need to inspire and empower the next generation of female role models to pursue and develop their careers in technology and become innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. It’s a process and it’s not always straightforward. It takes time, action, and support. Join us on a mission! Together we can make a difference. Anna Radulovski, Founder & CEO at WomenTech Network

This year, Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), will be on a mission to make a difference. And hey, it won’t be one of those ordinary ones that you are used to seeing us do. First, we had to add more females to the team. This year we are going to be deliberate about encouraging girls to embrace Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and we plan to be deliberate about it.

For over five years, we have organized training in https://yef-uganda.org/digital-literacy/ and held https://yef-uganda.org/digital-tech-boot-camp/ but none has yielded our dream of having more girls embrace not just ICT but the unstoppable digital transformation. Here are some of the interventions we will be undertaking with our various partners:

Just like many other countries, Uganda has made a deliberate effort to encourage ICT in schools through various ways including making it one of the subjects at the advanced school level. Similarly, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and its various partners have done the same for refugees and the communities that host them. https://www.unhcr.org/5fc126394.pdf. Refugees can use technology to overcome the obstacles that accompany forced displacement. But that is only possible when they have access and the required knowledge.


For this reason, we will be investigating the reasons behind the lower participation rates of girls and women in information and communication technologies (ICT), both academically and professionally. Although gender differences are believed to be one of the main causes, it is difficult to say that all girls face the same challenges. We will be fact-finding the reasons why the refugee girls especially in Adjumani (Uganda)’s refugee settlements have challenges in embracing ICT and trying to break the barriers that exist. Some of these challenges have already been highlighted by UNHCR.https://www.itu.int/hub/2020/10/3-ways-international-organizations-can-boost-the-participation-of-girls-in-icts

Capacity building

Under the #ICT4Bint campaign, this year, we will allocate more slots to girls in all our capacity-building and empowerment programs. We also plan to extend our #DigitalTechBootCamps to schools targeting mainly girls. Indeed, being deliberate for change would mean that the ‘mountain moves to Muhammed’.

Mindset change

In a world where technology is viewed as ‘male’; it is about time parents, teachers and the girls themselves change their attitude towards the digital transformation. While it is evident that there are few role models that girls can look up to; it is also true that many girls are generally discouraged from sciences right from their infant stage. It is time to share success stories to influence and role models to mentor. For refugee girls, the mindset biases are not only in their schools and homes but also in their culture dictating that at a certain age, they are ripe for marriage. The discussion on child marriages is not just about the greed of parents for dowry but also that no parent would be interested to invest in someone that they look forward to ‘exchanging for cows’. Maybe it is time refugee women leaders took on this noble role as well.


This April as we look forward to celebrating Girls in ICT Day, we hope that through our #ICT4Bint campaign, with partners we will make this year one for celebrating all the girls who go against all barriers, who challenge gender stereotypes, and who are actively championing for their equality. And also, because in the 21st century, we need more girls to find innovative solutions to the world´s problems, we will be waiting for you to join us on this mission.



The First Refugee Architecture Library In Uganda

By Bazio Doreen

We receive visitors from Berlin every year. But the 2022 February visit of one of the co-founders of https://openculture.agency/, the organization that has been partnering with us for over 5 years to improve the livelihood of refugee youth, was not just one of interacting and sharing chocolates. Not that we didn’t do that. But there was something more that we received; about 100 books to start the #PAGarchLib.

It is one thing to be an Architect; it is another thing to donate books to people you barely know but connects with. Indeed, Steven Kovats, a Canadian Architect, and Digital Media Specialist, always make sure to make new friends during every visit. With this donation, it would be fair to say that r0g Agency for Open Culture and Transformation has enabled Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF) to make such a great impression on the refugee youth in Pagirinya Refugee Settlement and this will go on for a very long time.


Pagirinya Architecture Library now serves a population of about ……with …..visits every month. Many of the visitors are students and teachers from the nearby Pagirinya Secondary School who may years to come use the knowledge acquired in the books to change the face of architecture not just in Uganda but South Sudan for those that will return to their home country.

According to Opira Jonathan, a student at the school and an upcoming fine artist, the school lacks a well-furbished school library and barely has any books about architecture.

“I feel this is a great place for us, we’ve been looking for books like this that can broaden our scope of work. I will use this opportunity to integrate this knowledge into our classroom activities by involving learners to do imaginative sketching of structures. This can just be done with simple tools like pencils, tracing papers, and rulers.” Opira Jonathan reveals.


However, this vision has now not only crossed the borders of Pagirinya but attracted partnerships. Among the notable ones are the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), and the Local Government.

Mr. Vitali Musloushi, the Senior Protection Associate, says that UNHCR will lobby for funds to sustain and improve the Library with the belief that it will help support refugees to become creative and develop knowledge and skills that can contribute to alleviating the biting youth unemployment.

On the other hand, Mr. Ondoga James has also pledged support to the innovation and requested YEF to encourage the host communities around the settlement also benefit from the project.

About the Library.

Launched in February 2022, Pagirinya Architecture Library (#PAGarchLib) is located at Pagirinya Satellite which is a youth space that was constructed by Youth Empowerment Foundation with financial support from r0g. The main objective of the library is to provide young people with resource access, get inspiration, and ideas on architecture, art, photography, and media documentation to create responsive building prototypes to solve local challenges of the communities and build houses in which they can happily live in and making these prototypes open-sourced for easy collaboration via media platform- GitHub.

Below is a gallery for the Launch event: 


Fighting Online Fraud Against Refugees In Adjumani.

By Bazio Doreen

A wise man once said that ‘Curiosity pulls people into scams’. When Frank Stallone coined the phrase, he didn’t know that in many years to come, advances in technology would indeed drive curiosity while making many online users vulnerable to scams because of the enticing false promises that come along. One such vulnerable group because of the nature of the life they find themselves in; are the refugees living in Uganda’s various camps and settlements.

In efforts to save many youths from such scams due to widespread unemployment, Youth Empowerment Foundation, Adjumani (YEF) will be conducting a series of training not only about fraud but how to use the internet safely in a constructive way. To complement the seasonal Digital Boot Camps where we teach young people basic ICT skills, YEF conducted 5 days of training on how to stay safe from online fraud.

Here are some of the testimonies from participants who attended the first session that ran from 28th November 2022 to 2nd December 2022: