Catholic Project for Young Changemakers Spreads to 14 African Countries in New Cycle

A section of participants at the ongoing training of tutors of 'Together for a New Africa' initiative of African youth. Credit: ACI Africa

What started four years ago as a burning desire by a handful of students of Italy-based Sophia University Institute to transfer the learning institution’s culture of unity to Africa has evolved into a gigantic initiative of young changemakers that now covers 14 African countries.

Today, Together for a New Africa (T4NA), which took form in 2018 to equip young people, especially those graduating from Sophia University Institute and other universities abroad to go “back to Africa” and “to shape a new Africa together”, has not only impacted tens of thousands of youth across the continent, but has also doubled the reach per country, from the initial seven to the current 14.

Started in January after a few years of deliberations and planning, T4NA first trained 100 youth from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. 

The 100 young tutors were then sent to their respective countries where they started transformative movements that brought together thousands of youth who, for a period of four years, were engaged in various social, economic and political activities to transform their communities.

At the start of the new cycle, which kicked off with a training of T4NA tutors in Nairobi, Kenya, Ernst Ulz, a Consultant and Fundraiser for the African initiative said that the initiative had gained a lot of popularity in Africa and was intending to cover the whole continent and beyond.


“The idea is to cover the whole continent. Even now, people from Northern Africa are asking me how they can participate,” Ulz said in a Thursday, September 29 interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the training.

The Austrian-born consecrated member of the Focolare Movement added, “There is a possibility of including some European countries because we have understood that this experience is very valuable and can be shared with other continents.”

For the new cycle that is expected to take 36 months ending in July 2025, T4NA targets to work with 42 adult tutors from Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, and Ivory Coast.

Other tutors who are meeting in Nairobi have been drawn from Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Three tutors have been drawn from each of the participating countries to take part in the training that has brought professors from various disciplines on board.

The overall objective of the second phase of the initiative is to empower young leaders in Africa to address the challenges of their communities so as to shape the future of their continent through collective leadership (co-leadership), good governance, a culture of unity, and the revival of the African spirit of “Ubuntu”, and togetherness.

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Each of the 14 participating countries has also been tasked with recruiting 10 young people who will be trained for the period of 36 months in Summer Schools and other sessions that will be organized at national level. 

T4NA’s Summer Schools are usually of intense training during which participants are equipped with skills to transmit leadership training. Within the period, those enrolled and trained are also required to initiate programs that will impact approximately 21,000 youth in the 14 countries.

Engagements with the youth in the various countries will entail a combination of training including workshops and seminars and local impact activities “to make concrete change,” Ulz told ACI Africa.

He explained, “The young people will see the problems in the country and find ways in which to respond.”

“We want to empower our youth much more to look at the most immediate problem that is affecting the people especially at the grassroots. We do not encourage them to look too far away,” he said, and added, “In our training, we remind them that they can never be able to solve the big problem of corruption in their countries if they do not look at what is affecting their neighbor.”


The Nairobi-based Focolare Movement member recalled that the impact of the first cycle of T4NA that ended with a graduation in January had been “a huge success,” adding, “We are repeating the whole thing but making it much bigger.”

He said that the organizers of the program had learnt a lot from the first cycle, and were looking to implement a number of changes in the second cycle, including being more careful in the recruitment of participants for the cycle that has been slated to start with a Summer School “in the second half of 2023”.

“In the first cycle, we noticed that we didn’t do a good recruitment. We didn’t have many serious participants and therefore we had a large number of dropouts. Many of them dropped out after the first year and the second year, I think because they had many unmet expectations,” Ulz recalled during the September 29 interview with ACI Africa. 

He further recalled, “Our tutors were also not very well-prepared last time because we didn't have a very elaborate training structure as we did this time round. Last time, they did not have enough time to organize the local activities, which we prioritize apart from the Summer Schools.”

The member of the Focolare Movement however noted that there are countries where the recruitment was so good that the participants who came on board did amazing projects. 

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He said, “There were countries with high political tensions and some of our tutors invited the main political opponents to sit in one room and to discuss their differences. Others made sure that the different worrying ethnic groups resolved their conflicts.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.