Our Children, Our Families, Our Future

Our Children, Our Families, Our Future

Written By

Noeline Kirabo Mulongo

Though I firmly believe that anything can be achieved with the right mindset and determination, I have not always been sure of what to do with this philosophy. Even when I began to develop certain interests, it took a while before I could mold these interests into practical action. But, gradually, things began to fall into place. I discovered that when I worked with creative people from diverse cultures, I found peace and fulfillment.

I had this same feeling when I sought new adventures. I particularly enjoy meeting and interacting with people. Public spaces stir my imagination and creativity. One of my greatest inspirations came from those who picked themselves up and moved on despite being plagued by overwhelming difficulties. Their courage gave me hope, reminding me that we all carry the seeds of greatness and can aspire to do great things, no matter how grim the situation may appear. But these seeds must be nurtured.

For me, therefore, community service and human development have become a sacred duty. I hope to leave my mark on the history of transformation in my community, my country and the entire world. I live to make a difference; this is my number one guiding principle. When I initially started working in community development with children and families, I found out that 57 percent of our population in Uganda is under the age of 18, which means our greatest potential as a nation lies in our children. I knew, therefore, that I had to work with children.

I discovered that when I worked with creative people from diverse cultures, I found peace and fulfillment

My journey was not to be an easy one. One of my major constraints has been time; many days I feel that I need a few extra hours in my day. I am also learning quite a bit about human nature. I noticed that some people will only cooperate with you when they believe that they will gain something personal. I can use some mentors, people who are likeminded, but they are not always easy to come by. As a young Ugandan woman, I also have to deal with resistance from men who feel threatened by a woman taking on leadership responsibilities, or who feel threatened when gender equality is demanded.

There are other barriers that I face each day. Sometimes I visit communities where a majority of the people speak a language that I don’t understand. Money remains a major challenge— the donors seem to be fewer and less generous these days. Sometimes I don’t have enough commitment from the people I work with and this is very demoralizing. Bureaucratic government structures are also a constant hassle.

I may be frustrated by these challenges, but I am not discouraged. While some men resist me, many more provide me with tremendous support. I have vowed that my passion for change and transformation will always supersede any obstacle that I have to deal with.

As a young Ugandan woman, I also have to deal with resistance from men who feel threatened by a woman taking on leadership responsibilities, or who feel threatened when gender equality is demanded

My first development experience was with Empower Children and Communities Against Abuse (ECCA) where I held the position of Psychosocial Program Officer. At ECCA I worked mainly with women as well as in- and out-of-school children. With in-school children, I focused on life skills training, which covered issues such as decision-making, self-esteem, interpersonal skills, career growth, communication, problem-solving, sex, sexuality and conflict resolution. I also worked with out-of-school children on related issues but went further to help them develop their talents and discover work skills that would guarantee them a means of livelihood. They received training in various forms of arts and crafts, business and music, as well as training tailored to meet specific needs. I also provided psychosocial support to these children through counseling and home visits in order to keep them away from crime and out of trouble.

While at ECCA, I also worked with women in various communities. Incidentally, some of these women were parents of the children in the life skills program. Many of them did not have any formal training or work skills and were very eager to take advantage of the program. Some of the areas in which they received training include basic bookkeeping, budgeting, communication, and parenting. We also provided training to prevent domestic and gender-based violence. Beyond training, we designed a self-help approach that organized these women into clusters of 10-20 that met on a weekly basis. Each time they met, they contributed funds into a common pool, accumulated savings and borrowed from the funds to invest in various income-generating activities. Today, most, if not all of these women, are able to support their families through their savings and investments.

I now work with Viva Network, which is a Christian, child-focused network that provides a platform for cooperation between churches and indigenous organizations with related goals. The aim of the network is to build the capacity of its members and strengthen their managerial strategies so that they can offer quality services to the children and women with whom they work. I specifically work with the churches in the network, challenging them to become more child-friendly, to practice financial accountability and to adopt more effective outreach methods. Among the programs that we provide for members are quality improvement systems, training for child advocates and ambassadors, and family empowerment initiatives. We also support “Community Albums,” which is a website set up to broadcast the voices of children to the rest of the world, and “Families for Children,” which encourages foster parenting and adoption. We are committed to working directly with children and their families since parents need to be included in the process. When children are empowered along with their families, there is a much higher chance for them to flourish and reach their full potential.

I hope to leave my mark on the history of transformation in my community, my country and the entire world

I have come to understand that I cannot improve the lives of others without embracing a philosophy of self-sacrifice and self-improvement. Balance is a vital part of my career choice. I must live a wholesome and exemplary life of integrity in which I take adequate care of my mind and body. I work out three times a week, which includes swimming at least once a week. I read for two hours or more a day and give no less than two hours a week to charity work, such as volunteering as a counselor for Watoto Church in Kampala. I travel and sightsee. I write poems, songs and short stories that I hope to publish someday.

I live to build a legacy that will outlive my time here on earth. I am excited about the possibilities of helping young people reach their full potential. Each day I strive to develop my leadership and mentoring skills and my ability to work more effectively in multicultural environments. Seeing the difference that my efforts make in the lives of others – the ability to bring out the best in others – gives me joy that I cannot express in words. I believe that a revolution is taking place in my generation and I am determined to be a part of it.

Share This

Latest Comments

Ajayi Olutayo

Ajayi Olutayo

11. October, 2012 |

People like you are needed on this continent to take us to where we should be. Keep it up man!

Marcus Edibogi Akor

Marcus Edibogi Akor

11. October, 2012 |

Thanks for this powerful article. I am very glad I read it. Keep up your great work and remain Blessed Law!

Array ( [format] => html [Itemid] => 154 [option] => com_zoo [task] => item [item_id] => 65 )