By Senfuka SamuelProject Officer, WRA Uganda
|A section of participants during the sharing meeting at Buziga Country Resort|
One of the powerful aspects which keep alliances vibrant, growing and strong is networking, sharing, and learning from one another hence breaking down isolation and creating principled solidarity. In January 2011, WRA Uganda had a unique opportunity of hosting two different organizations in the pursuit of working closely together to exchange information and experiences, share problems and challenges and co-operates to find workable solutions and engage in common actions for safe motherhood.
On 23rd January 2011 WRA Kenya visited WRA Uganda for an opportunity to share experiences and learn from WRA Uganda engagement of the youth in contributing towards improving maternal and neonatal health. The WRA Kenya team was led by Ms Angela Nguku, Founder and National Coordinator in company of two youthful maternal health champions from Nairobi. Mr. Kazungu Matano and Mr. Phelix Odiwuor. The youth champions are both celebrities/popular figures in Kenya in the area of comedy, Radio and TV presentation.
The visit gave a platform for the Ugandan youth to share their experiences about activities and strategies they have been involved in to promote safe motherhood. These majorly included Convoy to Kampala, East African Caravan and the Pre- African Union Youth Summit, Young Maternal Health Advocates competition. The youth shared their experiences, successes, challenges and lessons learnt from these activities and strategies employed such as the media, music, dance and drama, poetry, mock debate, video and film shows among others.
The youth testified that their involvement has not only contributed to improving maternal health but also impacted on their lives individually in terms of building their confidence to communicate and advocate, learnt new life skills like dance and drama. “My first experience with WRA Uganda was to visit Kabale district because I had never gone to the place before. But when I reached Kabale things changed and felt touched by what I found women going through and this changed my mind,” shared Gertrude Kayaga, a youth member. Gertrude further added that she was very poor at dance and drama, but greatly improved by learning from her colleagues. “I have learnt how to advocate and present myself. My involvement as a youth has enabled me to meet people I wouldn’t have ever met in life,” she excitedly shared.
On the other hand, Mr. Felix shared that he pondered when he was chosen to be a maternal health champion. “I did not realize its importance at first but later found that bringing men on board is strategic and has a great trickledown effect,” Said Felix. He promised to use the lessons learnt from Uganda youth convoy to organize a bigger one in Kenya.
Mr. Kazungu Matano added that they are planning to use their popularity to disseminate maternal health information through bill boards.
Angela noted that we need to make maternal health an East African agenda because the situation is worse across the region. WRA Kenya will invite WRA Uganda youth to share their experience in Kenya during their planned youth convoy because our mission is to unify different people for maternal health cause.
The biggest lesson learnt was in order to effectively engage the youth, it is important to reach them where they are. Taking activities to where they love such as beaches, schools and make events that appeal to them like music concerts, games, drama. This motivates them to keep them going and have fun.
Mr. Senfuka Samuel, Project Officer WRA Uganda in the closing remarks underscored harnessing the power of partnership as WRA family and reinforce one another. “We should continue to mobilize the power of partnership because the strength of the individual alliance may vary but our collective strengths is considerable,” Senfuka remarked.
In the same spirit WRA Uganda held a sharing meeting with KiBO Foundation. The meeting was held on 01st February 2011 at WRA Uganda offices with the aim of exploring ways of working together in promoting safe motherhood. KiBO Foundation is a social enterprise organization focusing on empowering the youth with various life skills and community service programmes. WRA Uganda together with the youth and KiBO Foundation proposed joint near future action plans to be considered and plan around them.
Exchange visit to KiBO Foundation
Charity sport games
Blood donations for mothers
Music dance and drama for maternal health
General cleaning of identified health facilities
|Members pose for a group photo|