The East African country of Uganda is home to one of the youngest and poorest populations in the world. War and HIV/AIDS have taken the lives of parents and caregivers, leaving many children alone.

WashU professor, Dr. Fred Ssewamala, and his research team at WashU and in Uganda have been working for decades to alleviate the impacts of poverty on Uganda’s most vulnerable youth – orphans. They are creating economic empowerment and public health interventions that are making a huge difference in the lives of children, families, and communities in the African country.

Ssewamala’s International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD) empowers young people and their communities with information they need to make healthy decisions and to reduce poverty through financial literacy and matched savings accounts. The research team is currently conducting 15 studies, including interventions involving youth mental health, HIV stigma and sex workers.

Ssewamala has also created capacity, on the ground, independent of him, self-sufficient. And part of that capacity-building is a pipeline that will bring Uganda more and more highly educated professionals across many fields. He runs four different training programs, supporting master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral students as they learn to research HIV, mental functioning, and global health. “This,” Ssewamala says, “is the generation that is going to change the country.”