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She is Armed Against Human Trafficking: Meet Uganda’s Daughter Agnes Igoye

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20130710_inq_sclinton10z-a[1]Agnes Igoye is unstoppable. She has her sleeves rolled up to fight human trafficking in Uganda. Sadly, Ugandan children are trafficked within the country, as well as to Canada, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. But this this phenomenal Ugandan woman is armed to the teeth to fight for the children of this beautiful land.

Who is Agnes Igoye?

Agnes is the Deputy chair of the National Prevention of Trafficking in Persons office-Uganda and the Training Manager at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control.  She has provided her expertise to several organizations, including the United Nations and The International Organization For Migration (IOM). She is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, with a commitment of action with President Clinton to counter human trafficking. In fulfilment of her commitment, Agnes has fund-raised and delivered 69,000 text books to support vulnerable children in Uganda, has trained over 1500 law enforcement globally to counter human trafficking and rehabilitates survivors of human trafficking.

Agnes is the founder of the Huts For Peace program, a community based initiative by women who have suffered gender based violence, rebuilding their war-torn communities in Northern Uganda, She is Board member of Sister Schools http://sisterschools.org/about-us/staff-and-board/, Health Access, a trustee at Give a Chance to All, which provides education and support to disadvantaged children, including victims of human trafficking, orphans, and the disabled. She is also the National Coordinator of the Uganda-US Exchange Alumni Association

Agnes, has received several awards, including the 2014 University of Minnesota Distinguished leadership Award for Internationals, U.S. Department of State Hubert H. Humphrey Award (Human trafficking Policy and Prevention), 2012 Inspirational Woman of Uganda Award for Anti Human Trafficking Work & Youth Empowerment. In 2013, she was selected as one of 50 emerging Global Women leaders by the Women in Public Service Project, launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2011. In 2014, Agnes was named one of 40 inspirational women of Uganda by CEDA International and the African Women Development Fund (AWDF)

Agnes is passionate about VOLUNTEERISM and has extensive volunteer experiences

From 2012 to 2014, I was the National Coordinator, Uganda-U.S. Alumni Association. An Association committed to promoting networking among U.S. Exchange Alumni both within and outside Uganda and within different professionals; contributing to Uganda’s social and economic development and building lifelong relationships among members.

In 2014 became member of the Fulbright/Humphrey Fellows inaugural mentorship Program- Mentoring/helping Fellows with their re-entry back to their home Countries after their Fellowship program in the USA. Also joined the Sound Artists with Answers (SAWA), volunteers from South Sudan and Ugandan, fundraising in support of displaced South Sudanese in refugee camps. Fundraising events included bicycle riding from Kampala to Jinja (April 12th 2014) and Art Exhibition at Nommo Gallery in Kampala (April 18- May 2, 2014 )Which was also a collection center for supplies such as blankets, mosquito nets, food, clothing etc

Since 2011 I have fund-raised and partnered with Books For Africa USA to deliver 69,000 text/Library books for the education of vulnerable children including orphans/victims of human trafficking in Uganda. Since 2013 up to date I am a board member of Sister Schools and Member of the University of Minnesota Global Mentor Program (GMP), to provide second year students with insight into career paths (especially International carriers) and advice about developing professional networks. In 2012, Volunteered with Sister Schools-Distributing donated materials from American Children to vulnerable school children, Orphanages in Uganda and interviewed vulnerable children to tell their story. And from 2011 upto now I am a Trustee at ‘Give A Chance To All’ (http://www.giveachancetoall.co.uk/) non-profit organization providing Education and support to prevent, raise awareness and support victims of human trafficking, orphans and disabled children. And an International Advocacy officer Chain of Hope, a local Non-Governmental Organization based in Northern Uganda which provides emergency humanitarian relief, educates orphans and vulnerable children, empowers women and vulnerable groups and provides training and counseling, I volunteer with Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) including volunteering at San Diego food bank with President Clinton

http://www.charity-charities.org/news.php?artid=956483 In 2010/11: I Volunteered for Not For Sale MN, an organization dedicated to counter human trafficking. Activities included speaking on behalf of the organization creating awareness, mentored & trained college students involved in the abolitionist movement and organized awareness campaigns

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Share with us your Journey.

Girls were not the most welcome in my village. So my birth was a scandal because there was preference for a boy child, so girls hardly had a chance of an education. But luckily for me, my parents defied the odds and decided to take their girls to school. We have survived war, cattle rustlers, Joseph Konyi insurgency including loosing property and ending up in an Internally displaced people camp in a catholic mission. At a certain time we were nomadic due to security reasons, and this is how I ended up attending many primary schools. However, spent all my secondary school years at Trinity College Nabbingo.   The joined Makerere University undergraduate and master’s degrees then Studied management at Uganda Management institute, enrolled for Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship-University of Minnesota to study Forced Migration at University of Oxford UK and Bryn Mawr College USA (2013, July 7-19) Peace Building and Development

In 2011, I received a Certificate of recognition from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, in recognition of the successful completion of a one-year program of graduate study and professional development at the University of Minnesota 2010-2011, as a participant in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program.

I have attended several courses on leadership and transnational organized crimes (in various countries) including trafficking in drugs, arms and human trafficking, and counter terrorism, including; International Criminal Police Organization-INTERPOL training in combating terrorism, Maritime Piracy and other forms of organized crime, Certificate, International Workshop on Profiles of Trafficking: Patterns, Populations & Policies (May 14-24, 2012- Haifa Israel), Global Development and Social Justice Certification with a special session with President Jimmy Carter, Humphrey Fellowship Program Rollins School of Public health Emory University and The Institute for International Education, Atlanta Georgia (March 13-18, 2011), Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Commitment of action certification to counter human trafficking, by President Bill Clinton, University of California San Diego (April 2011) Leadership Training, The White House Project, Minnesota USA, (2010). And Investigator Certification, Investigating Human trafficking Course, Not For Sale Abolitionist Academy, San Francisco USA (December 27-31, 2010)

Tell us about your work to fight human trafficking?

My hear beats for the children, men and women, boys and girls that are trafficked. I have worked as Deputy National Coordinator Prevention of trafficking in persons office and the Deputy chair National Task Force to counter human trafficking and a training manager at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration control. I am also a member of Clinton Global Initiative (commitment of action training law enforcement globally, rehabilitating victims of human trafficking and awareness rising. Since 2011, I have fundraised and partnered with Books For Africa USA to deliver 69,000 books for the education of vulnerable children including victims of human trafficking. I am a Board member Sister Schools: Sister Schools teaches compassion, service and social responsibility by partnering students in donor schools in Seattle USA who donate school supplies and clothing to children in need in Uganda. http://sisterschools.org/about-us/mission/. We also have a scholarship program as well as build literacy centers (libraries) and Currently I am fundraising and building a rehabilitation center to rehabilitate survivors of transnational human trafficking

What is your inspiration?

Survivors of Human trafficking who despite the horrific experiences they have gone through, are able to pick up the pieces. Am also inspired by self-less leaders like Presidents Obama, Carter, Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton all of whom I have had a privilege to meet and benefit from their words of wisdom. And I am greatly honored to be a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Since 2011, I have been inspired and learned so much Interacting with so many Global leaders at CGI.

What has been your great victory so far?

My great victory has not yet come because we still have a lot of people subjected to slavery/trafficking. Great victory to me would mean an end to human trafficking.

Please tell us about your achievements.

ACHIEVEMENTS AND HONORS

 2015: Organized the first (in Africa) Women In Public Service Project (WPSP) institute in Uganda http://wpsuganda.com/ . WPSP was founded by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011, in partnership with U.S. Department of State and seven sister colleges.

Here are Special remarks from Director, President and CEO of Wilson Center http://youtu.be/PLqeZ_cRhoo And a WPSP/Wilson Center DC women’s day article dedicated to WPSP Uganda

http://womeninpublicservice.wilsoncenter.org/2015/03/07/international-wo…

The WPSP Uganda institute was also inspired by the 2013 WPSP Institute Delegate Declaration, where 43 Women delegates (including WPSP Uganda Coordinator Agnes Igoye), representing 35 countries from Asia, Africa, America, Europe and Middle East from diverse sectors, ethnicities, ages, cultures and religions pledged among other things, to engage in mentoring, sponsoring and supporting other women in their communities and organizations in developing their full potential, as well as to commit to both individual and collective acts that support the role of women in public service.

2015: Invitation by Hillary Clinton to join her, Melinda gates and Chelsea and other women leaders to launch the No Ceilings Full Participation Report (March 9th, 2015 in New York) made of data points collected from more than 190 Countries over the 20 years. This report highlights gains Women and girls have made since the 1995 U.N Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the gaps that remain on the road to full participation.

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2014: Invited by U.S. President Bill Clinton, Hon. Hillary Clinton and Chelsea to join them as a member of Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) at the CGI meeting in New York.

 2014: Honored to participate in a high level J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board meeting and panel; Fulbright Effect: How do we shape the future of Public diplomacy and global education? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9BnY66Yy0Y)

2013: Selected to pay tribute to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she received the 2013 prestigious Liberty Medal in Philadelphia USA.

Since 2011, fundraised and partnered with Books For Africa USA and delivered 69,000 books and school supplies for the education of Vulnerable children in Uganda, including victims of human trafficking and orphans.

2013: Among the delegates of the Women In Women in Public Service Project Summer Institute at Bryn Mawr College who wrote a 50/50 declaration committing themselves and urging their governments and international organizations to “promote gender equality, especially in the areas of public service, politics, economics, foreign policy and security, peace-building and development”. They pledged and called their Governments to act in achieving 50% of Women in Public Service by 2050. http://womeninpublicservice.wilsoncenter.org/2013/09/23/2013-women-in-public-service-institute-delegate-declaration/

Recognition by The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board’s 2010-2011 Annual Report to U.S. Senate page 23. http://exchanges.state.gov/media/oagp/pdfs/fsb/annual-reports/fulbrightdraft_6_11-singles-.pdf (2012)

2011: Outstanding Clinton Global Initiative (CGI U) commitment to action rehabilitating victims of human trafficking, raising awareness and training law enforcement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrOCRlfT664&feature=relmfu

2013:TEDxTalk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyP9szTyV20&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rOyvKK-Yj4eyP1BKMz0KZie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyP9szTyV20

2014: Profile on Ugandan National Newspaper. http://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Reviews/An-agent-against-the-sale-of-humans/-/691232/2326142/-/item/0/-/rcis6gz/-/index.html

Have you received any awards since you began this noble fight?

Yes I have;

2014: Distinguished Leadership award for Internationals-University of Minnesota http://global.umn.edu/honors/dlai/14_igoye.html

2014: One of 40 Inspirational Women of Uganda, who have created impact in their local communities, regionally or nationally .Featured in the Inspirational Women of Uganda Directory distributed to schools and Organizations to inspire others. By CEDA International and African Women Development Fund (AWDF)

2014: Global Freedom Exchange Award: A Hilton Worldwide and Vital Voices Partnership in recognition of emerging and established women leaders who are on the forefront of global efforts to prevent and respond to the destructive crime of child trafficking.

2014: Recognized as an outstanding Fulbright Alumni (Globally) for her achievements in the field of social entrepreneurship by the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program and the Institute of International Education (IIE) Board (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOsCp3diHc4&feature=youtu.be)

2013 Selected one of 50 emerging Global Women leaders by the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) for her significant contributions to her Community (Peace building and development) and Country through leadership in Public Service (launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2011)

http://articles.philly.com/2013-07-11/news/40494282_1_hillary-rodham-clinton-parliaments-and-legislatures-girls-and-women

http://wpsp.blogs.brynmawr.edu/2013/08/07/delegate-profile-agnes-igoye/

2012: Inspirational woman of Uganda award (presented to her by U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Scott DeLisi) from CEDA International/Mentoring walk Uganda for anti-human trafficking work and youth empowerment.

2012: Certificate of recognition from Rotary Club of Bugolobi-Uganda for raising awareness about human trafficking.

2012: Certificate of merit from Access Youth Initiative Uganda for contributing to youth empowerment and community service in Uganda

2010: Department of State Hubert H. Humphrey Award

18/12/2009: Immigration Achiever’s Award from the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, in recognition of outstanding contribution to team work in the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control

The trafficking cases in Uganda especially to the Middle East and Asia are on the increase. What do you think Uganda can do to fight this vice?

A combination of Preventive measures including continuous awareness campaigns, MOU’s with these Countries to ensure safe export of labour and protection of victims.

But most importantly to for us all to know that we all have a role to play to combat human trafficking in the areas of Prevention, Protection of victims, prosecution of offenders. Let us all learn and read widely about trafficking and participate in creating awareness to save those who haven’t yet fallen victim but also make sure we protect those who have already fallen victim.

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What challenges do you face in your Human Trafficking fight?

Human trafficking is a multi-billion organized crime industry which requires a multi-billion response in terms of funding.

Victim assistance remains a challenge-currently Government lacks shelters for the rehabilitation of especially transnational victims of human trafficking. That’s why instead of lamenting about it, I have decided with the help of well-wishers to embark on building a shelter

Countering human trafficking has led me to some of the most dangerous places/situations. But I must say those experiences have made me stronger

If you were to become minister of internal affairs, what would your agenda look like?

It will start with consultative meetings with the experts/staff from different departments/agencies including Police, Immigration, Prisons service, Uganda government chemist, stakeholders including my predecessors. Then we shall draw an agenda starting with our collective priorities as a Ministry. It’s a big and very sensitive Ministry you know and I have high respect for all the great people who have headed it.

Agnes has represented Uganda in several inter-governmental committees on Migration, peace and security.

2014: Member of the East African Community (5 member states) One Stop Border Post (OSBP) technical Working Group serving in two committees; Legal and Procedures, and Training and Public awareness.

2014: Member, Technical working group on Peace and Security, Great lakes region

2014: Uganda Delegate Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit (East African Community)

2013: Member, Horn of Africa (12 Countries) Integrated Border Management Task Force and Joint Law Enforcement Border Control Operation led by INTERPOL, to counter transnational organized crime

2013: Expert/Resource person to East African (5 member states) Heads of Anti- human and drug trafficking agencies; Best Practice bench marking workshop, Kampala.

2012 To date: Technical committee member to the Joint Permanent Commission of Uganda and South Sudan -Peace, security and development. Chaired the 1/22/2013 meeting between Uganda and South Sudan which brought together 40 high ranking government officials/stakeholders to resolve cross border conflicts, manage refugees, curb illegal Migration, human trafficking and other forms of organized crime.

2012-2013: Trainer Uganda Foreign Service officers on Prevention, identification and supporting Victims of Human trafficking and Uganda’s Ambassadors and high commissioners on their roles as heads of missions abroad

2012: Member of Uganda’s delegation to the Regional Center on Small Arms (RECSA) in collaboration with Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO) under the AU/EU Project ‘The Fight Against Illicit Accumulation and Trafficking of Firearms and Explosive materials in Africa’.

December 2011: Delegate to the International conference of the 11 Member States Great lakes region summit to Provide policy leadership, advocacy, and guidance on peace, Security, stability and development in the great lakes region. Expert to the special session: ‘United to prevent, end impunity and improve support to the victims of Sexual gender based violence in the Great Lakes Region’

2011: Resource Person, ‘Frontier awareness and Immigration Challenges’ trained 598 Police cadets from South Sudan, Uganda & Somalia; Masindi Police Academy, Uganda

2009: Member of the Inter Government Authority on Development (IGAD) team of experts to the 33rd ordinary session of IGAD Council of Ministers meeting (December 2009), Djibouti. Discussed and passed policy resolutions regarding issues such as IGAD Regional Consultative Process on Migration, Peace and security strategies as well as the IGAD Strategic Plan for 2009-2013.

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1 Comment

  1. kwagala frank

    June 1, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    so much in love with anti human trafficking

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Profiles

Meet DJ Rachael East Africa’s first female DJ

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Daniel Ecwalu-25

Photo Credit: Daniel Ecwalu-25

Dj Rachael is a trail blazer in her field, she is the first East African female Dj, who started out at a tender age and grew into one of the best DJs on the African continent; also a Rapper, Producer & business guru, she runs an Audio Production Studio “Scraych Rekordz” and a Mobile Events Company called “Raybon”. Her big heart, charm, dedication  has seen her sail through the Dj’ying  profession for  close to 20 yrs.

Right now she is into  music production more than ever  because she  thinks it’s becoming a basic in the life of a Dj. “It’s what makes superstar Djs. I’m glad I was welcomed into the Santuri family which has taught me a lot more than I knew before. ” she says

How did you start?

It was just a fun thing as a kid picking up a Mic and doing some covers as an MC and Rapper in the early days but then I joined Dj-ing out of curiosity because the Djs where I Mced picked interest in me  gave me the necessary basics to head start DJing. This profession picked me up and we’ve been cuddling ever since. It is something you just stay in love with. I didn’t go to any school for Djing, I picked up all that I learned from the Djs I started out with at Club Pulsations and then made it an issue to be better than them. I used to tease them about me having a crazier crowd than they did after I became good at it.

Are you genre sensitive? Which is it and why?

I do not center on a particular genre because my clients are much diversified. In the beginning I loved hip-hop and gangsta music. Now I love more Dance, EDM, Afro house, deep house, Alternative, Rock and Hip hop still. It goes with the territory and to me these genres move floors, though it helps that it’s my kind of music.

What is the Dj-ying landscape like for a woman in Uganda?

I softened the landscape and landing for female Djs in Uganda and East Africa. But then again I didn’t have as much a hard time as I expected though they treated me like an amateur rider. It was topsy-turvy at times where some people would cover me with blankets, others with helmets and yet others with spiky eyes! I guess it still is like that in some parts of the country though it’s no big deal in Kampala.

Any occupational hazards?

Djs especially female ones get short changed by some employers, others get rough experiences through coarse sexual advances from male employers. Its rough terrain if you don’t own a car and have to move in the late hours of the night with your equipment; you could get into all sorts of danger like robberies or worse.

Were you supported by family (parents) when you started?   

Actually I didn’t tell anybody I was going out to DJ. My mum heard about it, was probably flabbergasted and one time she surprised me with a cameo at the Club. I almost broke the record I was playing. She made a lot of fuss to the owners of the club because I was so young. They later resolved it, she got herself some drinks and later even danced while I played. You should have seen the grin on my face!

Do they support you now?

Now everybody loves Dj Rachael, okay not everybody. Most of my family does. Though my mum didn’t live on to see me become the Dj that I am today because she passed on in 1999 barely a few years after I begun. Bless her soul. Then there is an uncle who still insists I should have pursued my pilot project because that’s what I wanted to be as a child! A PILOT! I was actually good at math and sciences.

How long do you plan to Dj?

I told my family I would go on till I’m 75yrs old and they laughed. But it is very possible in this industry. There was an old lady Dj in the USA who was 94 years old and another from Poland who is 77yrs. I’m still a baby!

What are the future prospects for Ugandan women on the world market like?

I think the market is very broad-based right now and the future looks pretty good though the competition will get even tighter out there in the world. There’s so much high tech going on and if you don’t follow you can get left behind in a flash, so you need to be very tech savvy. Old school works pretty fine but if you want to be a household name you got to keep up and get on top, literally. And yes a solo concert has been on my mind like forever now and I know its getting pretty close. Since I’m making 20yrs in the business I think there is my catch. The fans should watch this space and wish me luck on this huge milestone coming up.

Do you think a solo concert would work for you?

I think it would work out very well and people will realize a DJ is big business these days. The Dj industry has grown in leaps and bounds and Djs can now hold huge concerts all on their own.

Are Djs appreciated in Uganda? Why?

The appreciation is only visible in a few sectors, from a few employers. The fans are really all the way behind Djs because they see what they offer. Some employers or event organisers don’t give the Djs enough appreciation. They see what you do and reap the benefits from your talent but they don’t show it in the way they pay. Some Djs themselves don’t rate themselves highly and thus they create a devaluation of DJS.

What are your thoughts at the realization that Djs can headline at festivals now?

It is way overdue. It makes me feel real proud and ecstatic to see this new development and especially seeing that some international superstar DJS are making more money than musicians. Who ever saw that coming?! I Hope it also starts happening in Africa.

Would you help someone (a girl) start Dj-ing? Word of advice to interested girls.

Yes of course, I would love to help girls get into Djing. BUT words of caution: It’s not a matter of looking pretty you got to work hard to perfect your art. AND be who you want to be don’t follow what others are doing, identify with your inner self.

How much do you earn?

I can not put a real figure to the earnings though I can say it’s worth it if you are dedicated to what you do and if you get the right gigs. At the same time in Uganda you need a supplementary salary or business because of some reasons mentioned above.

Where have you played?

Club Silk for 7yrs or more. Club Pulsations, Club Rogue, Club Volts, Steak Out, Sombreros(part time), Cayenne, Big Mikes, OS Club, Florida 2000(guest Nairobi), Stone Club (Mwanza), Via Via (Arusha), Happy People (Kigali), Heineken Capital Fm Parties, Bambucha Launch party, Irish Ball, Italian Day, USA Independence Day ball, Mama Akina Wa Africa Festival, Bayimba Festivals, Sondeka Festivals, Club Silk Street Jams, Wayne Wonder & Demarco concert and so many more corporate and private events and parties.

I was the only Dj chosen by BBC in East Africa to pick the best nightclubs in Africa 2015. I won the Alliance Francaise World Music Day Dj Battle in 2013. We are going to change the face of East African music with the Santuri Safari programming and remixing. It’s going to be a tsunami. Catch me at the Sondeka Festival September 10th 2015 and Bayimba Festival September 18th.

You can follow Dj Racheal on Twitter @DjRachael256, Instagram LilSniper04,  Facebook Dj Rachael, Soundcloud DJRachael4Raynsom

Daniel Ecwalu-24Daniel Ecwalu-27

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From Blogging to empowering girls, this Ugandan woman is changing her world

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Ida Horner

When she is not blogging, her mind is preoccupied with creating community transformation, enabling girls to understand menstrual hygiene and being able to offer people other options of life other than the exam passing skills imparted by schools is what she is doing in  Ruhanga,  South Western Uganda. Her Name is Ida Horner Bayiga.

Her Passion led  her to start the  Africa On The Blog, run the Let Them Help Themselves (TLHT)  foundation and  Ethnic Supplies these are are all peieces that fit in her dream of changing her world.

This is Uganda caught up with Ida, to share with us her passions, dreams and what she is doing to make her world a better place.

How did you start all this?

It’s that sort of realization that you can do something, I  felt that I could reach out to those that were less fortunate, so I started by exporting handcrafts and textiles made by women and all was going well until the recession hit.

A friend of mine, Ann McCarthy on knowing what I was doing invited me to have a look at something she had started in Ruhanga, so I came back to see her project, she was out of her depth, I mean it’s a remote village, no water, no medical center, no school, no means of money generation and whatnot. So, I setup a charity Let Them Help Themselves out of poverty (LTHT) and over the years, we have accomplished a lot. Now we have a school for 500 pupils, running water etc and right now, we are focusing on skills development like tailoring skills, computing, menstrual hygiene and one of the reasons I am here this time is to review this project, where do we go from here, did it actually help, is there any one particular activity that they really really want us to develop further and to see what works and what doesn’t.

So, what is Let Them Help Themselves really about?

Our core value is community regeneration, so we speak to the community to try and understand what there issues are, to try and understand why those issues have not been addressed, whose role it is to address them and where the blockages are and those are the things that prevent people from becoming economically active because, if a woman is spending most of her time of the day collecting water and making sure that that water is safe, she doesn’t have time to go and earn an income.

If a young girl is spending a week or so without going to school because of lack of menstrual hygiene, it impacts her negatively, so we try and have such conversations with the communities so we can forge a way to try and help.

We see our role as people who want to remove blockages at prevent them from becoming economically active, we also look at transformation using the skills development initiative where if a young girl learns a skill, it becomes handy even if she dropouts at age 15 or 16, wherever they land, they can easily find employment or create a job for themselves because people have to have options.

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 What else are you involved in?

We are also involved in Humanitarian causes/emergencies, here in Uganda we were involved in the Bududa Landslides and also in some slum project in Kireka where were helping women refugees at a quary to sell their handcrafts. Also during the Ebola Outbreak In Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone diaspora came to us and we helped to provide people food in the treatment centres as their families neglected them because they were suffering from Ebola.

How do the people of Ruhanga take it in, that an outsider, a stranger is trying to help them?

It’s not easy, and it hasn’t been easy since 2008. It’s about negotiating and building relationships because we are all about transformation and giving communities other options, so having those conversations and knowing the power structures in the community, has been a bonus for us, It has helped us help them. it’s actually a privilege that they allow us to help them, but if you come with an “I know best” point of view or from an imperialistic stance, then forget it. The people of Ruhanga have learnt to accept us in and we respect that.

LTHT is mainly based in Ruhanga but, do you have any plans of widening/spreading this campaign to other places?

It’s possible, I mean, Yes we can do it but honestly, it all comes down to finance, if you dont have the funds to travel around, to pay your employees, you can dream and dream and nothing happens. And also we don’t get any funding from the UK government or the Ugandan government so we rely on individual donations, that’s how we have and are still doing it But also there is still a lot of work to do in Ruhanga, were trying to build a model and a blue print that someone can look at and take away and also replicate because it’s basically developed organically. So for now, widening and spreading is just in the pipe line.

What is ethnic supplies?

Ethnic supplies is about helping people who make handcrafts and textiles to access the market in Europe, before the recession, it was turning a small profit but after the recession it isn’t easy anymore, people priotise where and on what they are spending their money on.

How does ethnic supplies work, I mean If I wanted in, how would I go about it?

The basic principle is that we don’t work with any one group that we haven’t met, so part of my role is to travel and meet these groups and the idea behind that is to check out their employment practices in every sense of the word. So for you/your group to join, we have to have met the group and have established that you have transparent and fair employment practices.

Looks like you have been beaten to the better part of fairness, what are those things that you look at to measure or ascertain good/acceptable employment practices?

I have a very high sense of ‘fairness’, I hate seeing someone being unfair to someone else, be it a person or a brand, I don’t like people being undercut and cheated & people not getting their wage because let’s face it, most people don’t know their rights and employers use that to terminate their contracts unjustly and to manipulate them so, unethical employment practices are exactly what I am against.

What are some of those things that have enabled you to get where you are?

Social capital! Social capital allows you to get a long way which gives you privilege, the social capital has helped me to get on and my ability to help other communities isn’t because I am rich but because I have a lot of social capital. Social capital is important in all terms and ways.

As curator of Africa On The Blog, what exactly do you do?

That’s nearly a full time job in itself, I source contributors to the platform, chasing them for their articles, promoting the website, making sure that the contributors are looked after, I have to ensure that the quality of work is good and to bring new people on board.

Tell, us more about Africa On The Blog?

Africa On The Blog was started 5 years ago, It was an idea that I had and other people in the diaspora wanted. I actually thought it would only engage the women in the diaspora to talk about their Countries, experiences, and stories but the thing took a life of it’s own. *laughs*, So We ended up getting many people who wanted to be contributors from allover Africa including Men.

some of the contributors we had were lecturers at universities who started sending their students to us as a resource, it’s pretty much started a life of it’s own.

Do you have a any Ugandan contributors?

Currently, we have none but over the years, I have heard 4, first was a pharmacist, then David Mpanga who is a solicitor here and 2 others but currently, I don’t have any Ugandan contributors.

Do you think colourism is real in Uganda, because I actually think it’s on a very low scale?

Colourism is real, it’s an issue of patriarchy, low self esteem, politics and colonialism because now women believe that to get a good job they have to look like Maggie Kigozi. Just stop it, don’t do that to yourself these skin lighteners have side effects that you will have to live with for years to come. Because…

Do you have any plans of organising a charity event in Uganda like the walk around Virginia Water Lake?

Most people in Uganda don’t know exactly what I am doing and after being in the UK for close to 24 years, that’s where all my social capital is, but yeah, I would love to have a fundraiser here or run a Ugandan but it wouldn’t be easy. We have a place at next year’s London Marathon and I was almost tempted to give it to a Uganda to fundraise for us, but the VISA situation would be a difficult thing, so I gave it up.

So how can young people  volunteer with LTHT?

Currently, you/that person must be willing to travel to Ruhanga because that’s where we are currently based and some of the things we are looking at isn’t money. If you could get 10-15 comrades who owned laptops and you went to Ruhanga to help the people there to get the computers, you’ve shared your skills and that’s very important, even if it’s just for a weekend. That would be much better than money, people like me value time, if you give it your time, then it’s worth it and we would be grateful.

As a writer I assume you are reading. What book are you currently reading?

It’s a feminist book but its a good one, let me show you…

It’s Beyond the pale and I would prefer the pages but that would mean I have to move around with a book and I mean, look at my handbag, very small a book can’t fit.

Any last words to all the ladies out there and every body?

To the ladies, go do it yourself, that’s advice I got from my dad, make sure that you’re financially independent as a woman and don’t do anything to yourself like bleaching, it will live with you for the rest of your life.

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Girls after receiving free re-usable sanitary pads made by participants at the skills development initiative.

Ps. We do believe that many Ugandans out there are doing awesome things and we would like to be a part of you if you could share your story like Mrs. Ida Horner did. Do you have a story?, you can email us at thisis256@gmail.com

 

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Writing Shouldn’t be your sidekick- Uganda’s Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire

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Bwesigye-bwa-Mwesigire

A master of his art, a writer and a creative in all forms of mental creativity that refers to himself as just a guy who promotes African Literature in all spheres, and Co-founder of an organization that fronts African Literature, promotes the arts through writivism.

 So who is Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire?

This is always a hard question to answer.I will just say that I am one of three co-founders of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, a non profit that promotes the arts, especially African literature, through Writivism.

When did it occur to you that you are a writer?

I am hesitant to identify myself as a writer. A writer of academic and journalistic work, yes, a creative writer, no. Writers are human beings who have novels, plays and collections of poetry published. I have none of those. I am only a promoter of African Literature who sometimes writes academic essays and journalistic reviews and interviews writers.

Where does your inspiration lie?

Problems that beg for solutions, which means all problems are inspiring. They give one a reason to work.

They say that if you want to hide something from and African hide it in a book. Do you think this is still the case?

It has never been the case. I want to look at a book as an image for a story. Stories are not all written. There are oral stories. There are written stories. And there are stories that are both written and oral. Africans, Ugandans, human beings have always consumed literature, stories in whatever form, written or oral.

 Writivism what does it even mean? Tell us more about this initiative.

Writivism is about the promotion of African Literature produced and consumed on the continent. We hold workshops in various cities on the continent, connect emerging writers to established ones to be mentored, run an annual short story prize, publish annual anthologies, run a schools programme and an annual literary festival in Kampala.

There is a lot of information being written. How shall we make Ugandans read all this information with all the things competing for their attention?

We need to stop thinking of reading as the only way to consume information. Film is important. Music is as well. Oral literature is as important as written literature.

 What is your message to Ugandan writers?

They should be pro-active. There are many opportunities, they should grab them. They should work hard too. Take writing as seriously as lawyering, doctoring, engineering and other professions and vocations are treated. Then it will pay. If taken as a part-time, side-kick, it won’t work. Imagine if being a lawyer, doctor, engineer etc. was considered as a side thing, it would not pay as much. Our work, us who promote writing and writers will be easier when we have excellent work being produced, to promote.

 

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