Louise Deininger
Founder and President, GYCO Academy

GYCO Academy Background

Vienna-based conceptual artist Louise created the idea for GYCO Academy after filming DNA of War. Since then, she worked tirelessly – together with local development experts and affected youth in Gulu, Northern Uganda, and a dedicated team of professionals in Vienna, Austria – to realise her vision. Transforming the mindset of young people and breaking the vicious cycle of economic dependency and cultural decline through self development. Building an empowered youth for a more sustainable, positive and peaceful society.

The Republic of Uganda, a country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya, South Sudan the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, has seen a number of armed military conflicts including the military coup in 1971 followed by the Idi Amin regime until 1979, the Uganda-Tanzania war, the toppling of the regime in 1986 and the ensuing Second Congo War which resulted in an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998.

In the following years the Republic of Uganda participated in conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa and experienced years of the civil war between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army, which has been guilty of numerous crimes against humanity, including child slavery, the Atiak massacre, and other mass murders. Conflict in Northern Uganda has killed thousands and displaced millions.

It is in this context that Ugandan youth have been strongly affected by the armed conflict, civil strife and the aftermath of numerous atrocities. Ugandan young people, often born during and in the immediate aftermath of the conflicts that Uganda has seen over the past decades, grew up in an environment overshadowed by violence and destruction of the past.

Living in precarious societal conditions with insecure livelihoods, young people frequently drop out of school or enter into early marriages. They suffer from drug and alcohol abuse, betting and other vices.

Founded and continuously inspired by Louise Deininger, an African conceptual artist with Kenyan and Ugandan roots who focuses her work on the intersection of critical thinking and human consciousness we are an organization that tirelessly works to achieve our mission and contribute to the GYCO Academy vision for Northern Ugandan youth.

This attitude is engrained not just in our diverse and open-minded team, but also in our values. It is symbolized by the elephant prominently featured in our logo as a symbol of peace and cohesion as widely used by the Acholi people, and a representation of leading the way.

Based upon the United Nations (UNO) Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) GYCO Academy brings about positive change in the post-conflict society so that the full potential of young adults - who have been indirectly or directly affected by the aftermath of war - can and will be unlocked, through working on the mindset, where they can strive to flourish and grow in freedom and liberty, pursue their dreams and happiness and promote the lasting welfare of Northern Uganda as well as restore the local culture.

GYCO Academy strives to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. While focussing on the above GYCO Academy works not just for the youth in general, but women and girls in particular, in order to help achieve gender equality.

We open a perspective

Building upon a broad network of local GYCO Academy youth leaders, who have taken the first steps to become the driving force for change in their respective communities, we will empower GYCO Academy to become a center and anchor point for self-sustaining, confident and self-determined actors in their respective communities who partner with a diverse range of stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, NPOs, schools, and – most importantly - local businesses.

We listen and accompany

We know the needs of young people in Northern Uganda. What they lack is - in various forms – perspective, attention, respect, self-esteem. These basic needs are essential. The aim is to make young people strong for their independent lives in respect and esteem for themselves and others in a peace-loving environment. We support young people with a lot of empathy and with the know-how of mind setting and personal development.

We educate and support

For us, effective help means helping people to help themselves, based on commitment, the will to change, the talents of young people and personal development. The provision of appropriate training is a critical success factor, as is the support at the start of a self-determined life.

We communicate and integrate

We accompany our work with local and regional PR activities and aim to broaden the local audience to create awareness for the GYCO Academy project in the region. Most importantly we create extensive cooperation with local and regional media outfits and build a support network for GYCO Academy with businesses active in the region.

GYCO Academy Austria works to set up the GYCO Academy Peace Ambassador’s Club for private individuals who will support the operation of GYCO Academy and communicates with interested private and corporate sponsors.

To achieve the vision and mission described GYCO Academy follows a strategy consisting of various programs and projects for the youth of Northern Uganda:

  • To make the youth conscious about themselves
  • To unlock the full potential of young people
  • To promote, empower and train the talents of young people in the region
  • To train their ability to set own goals, to act accordingly and thus help them to achieve economic abundance
  • To create a peace-loving society

The GYCO Academy strategy comprises of the general concept of operation as an NGO, and the installation of the GYCO Academy Art & Education Center in Gulu, Northern Uganda as the means for realization of GYCO Academy’s programs and projects.

GYCO Academy's setup for the time being consists of two organizations:

  • “GYCO Academy – Verein zur Förderung der Ugandischen Jugend“ is the association based in Vienna, Austria that manages the strategy and financing of GYCO Academy as a whole. Here all work is done by long-term committed volunteers.
  • GYCO Academy LLC is the organization based in Gulu, Uganda that realizes the operational programs and projects of GYCO Academy and works directly with the Northern Uganda youth. Work is done by (partially) employed staff (4 at the moment) and long-term committed volunteers (9 for the moment)

In order to achieve GYCO Academy's goals effectively, GYCO Academy needs the status of an NGO. GYCO Academy has already successfully obtained a local NGO license for operation in Uganda and opened an office in Gulu. Based upon this we are in the process of getting the NGO-status in Austria and following the European Union.

GYCO Academy’s financing is based mainly on sponsoring, donations and voluntary work. We promote our financing requirements via well defined programs and projects focusing on long-term sponsors especially for the programs and recurring donors for projects. Besides this we keep the running costs for administration and infrastructure operation at the lowest possible level.

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