Student Social Action; a case of a health initiative.

Social action is about getting involved and doing something to help others. It\’s not about how much money you give; it\’s learns towards giving your time. More like giving back to community. Some students are moved to take action against social justice. The most serious start out by critically examining some root causes of social injustice and collaboratively develop interventions. Then these fellows develop and implement a social action project that addresses a social justice issue in the community.

Most times these students find inspiration in common places-in class, through conversation with peers, in the media and commit themselves to turn their inspiration into action.

Alas you might have come across a characterization of students as apathetic, lazy, and uncaring-personal apathy and structural apathy.

Personal apathy is when individuals do not care and are unwilling to be involved. Structural apathy occurs because individuals are unaware of meaningful opportunities and are not asked to serve. I can tell that groups of students have come out, developed the structures and opportunities that would entice and engage more students to become involved. They have committed to imagining a better world and actively bringing about positive change within their campuses and communities.

There is no question that changing the world can be a daunting task. The thing is, college youth are often an untapped source for creative change-making ideas. When young innovators have the support they need at every step of the process you may be surprised with what they can accomplish; on their campuses, in their cities, and beyond.

Talk of beyond, this was highlighted by when Oxford students meet with Makerere University students in the Katanga Hand washing project under United Partnerships-a student led movement.

To draw a moment from my recent past; On my daily trek through Katanga Slum from main campus to Mulago, my eyes were always meet with poor sanitation and jumping trenches-the norm sight of a Mulago Medical student. Most of the kids from Katanga presented with diarrheal diseases. This was always augmented by the recurrent cholera outbreaks in the slum that we can call our own-Katanga.

WHO research shows that 43% of these can be reduced by proper hand-washing. It’s from this evidence based fact that we set out to fundraise and install five tippy taps on major communal toilets in Katanga.


The whole project took about $100 to impact over a 100000 people slum population.

The assessment survey done by revealed very positive results among slum dwellers. It is such simple but relevant interventions, one example product of student involvement, which we can use impact the world around us with.


And definite steps need to take to inspire, catalyze and sustain most of student-driven change by first believing, committing , connecting, implementing , repeating in case of short term failure. Most have come out of student initiative but higher institutions need to enhance civic engagement by providing critical social service and learning opportunities as part of university stay. They must take their level of involvement to the next step promote and support college student involvement in thoughtful community service and civic engagement. I therefore call on fellow students, and those of life to challenge themselves and better the world around them.


The writer is a former GRC School of Medicine, Makerere University and Founder President of Youth Association of Community and Occupational Health (@YACOH-Uganda).


1 thought on “Student Social Action; a case of a health initiative.”

  1. As you can tell am going through your posts, this is helpful to answer some questions about how detached our communities are to the environment. I had to intentionally unlearn littering again as an adult out of school even after being taught the same in school. This apathy thing is real

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