The vibrant Victor Ochen is the Founder and Executive Director of African Youth Initiative Network. The Northern Ugandan born activist spent 21 growing up in a refugee camp in Uganda and surviving on a meal per day for over 7 years in camp.
As a victim of constant wars in Northern Uganda, young Victor promised himself to live a life of peace and to enable others live that way too. “My choice remains peace and will always be peace,” he says in a YALI Voices podcast.
He always never misses an opportunity to reinforce peace to people around him. This lifestyle inspired him to begin the African Youth Initiative Network in 2005. Through the African Youth Initiative Network, Victor maximises peace and reconciliation initiatives that address the impact of war on communities to empower young people.
“My choice remains peace and will always be peace,”
African Youth Network Initiative, AYINET, which is based in Lira, Uganda, is an independent national not-for-profit organization which has been able the achieve the following and more over the 16 years of its existence:
1. Medical Rehabilitation of more than 3,000 War Injured Persons from Northern Uganda
2. Intensive Psychosocial Rehabilitation to thousands of Victims and Survivors of War, with particular focus on women and children
3. AYINET with funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) provided gynecological (fistula repair) and psychosocial rehabilitation to female victims of sexual violence of LRA war in northern Uganda.
All interventions aimed at dealing with the legacies of violence and abuse, building the mutual trust between the state and the people in order to accelerate human development.
Victor and AYINET were nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. According to a World Economic Forum report, Forbes Magazines named Ochen in 2015 as one of the 10 most powerful men in Africa, while Archbishop Desmond Tutu attested that “my heart swells with joy to see Ochen as one of the new hope for Africa”. He is the first Ugandan and the youngest ever African nominated for Nobel Peace Prize 2015. Ochen is the YGL and has received several awards including Elyse Treaty in 2016; Pan-Commonwealth Youth Workers 2015, Mundo Negro Award 2016; all recognizing his service to poor people and his inspirational leadership for peace in Africa. He is the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Justice promoting SDG Goal16. Mr. Ochen is a member of the Global Advisory Group to the UNHCR on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection.
Victor Ochen sees Mandela as a model for African youth to emulate as they raise up their communities across the continent.