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Cut demand and you will stop Female Genital Mutilation in Uganda

It was the very first of its kind, a half-marathon that attempted to engage, involve and educate the masses in Sabiny land about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and by extension end the practice.  It took place on 19th September 2015 in Kapchorwa.

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To Read and Learn

Poetry had for so long eluded me,
it never made sense to me, and so had art and Jazz. I just didn’t understand any
of them and didn’t pay so much attention either, until recently when I started
reading books. I had for so long, never appreciated written literature until someone very close to me, whose life revolves around reading encouraged me to
give it a try. He bought me “The Monk who sold his Ferari” to start with and I
read it so fast that I asked for another with a similar style of writing. Then
came “The Concubine” by Elechi Amadi and he dared me to complete the entire
book. That was it for me.

Currently reading this book as one of my
March reads
Daring me was the only way I could
prove that I could read a book and complete it. I later on learnt that the dare
was deliberate to make sure I read the book. My desire for African Literature
grew. I took to Facebook and asked my friends to recommend books by African
writers. I was overwhelmed by the recommendations and I have since December
2014 read a total of 12 books and I am still amazed at how much I had missed
because I didn’t read a lot. I am therefore trying to ‘catch up’ on the lost
time.  It’s never too late

I am privileged because I am
currently enrolled to a University and I do not have to buy all these books, I
make good use of my student privileges to borrow as many books as I can. Because
of school demands, I intend to read atleats 2 books a month. This has helped me
reduce the amount of the time that I spend on social media and saved me lots of
‘small talk’. 

Having grown up in a family of
readers, as a last borne, I always had my siblings narrate stories to me and my
mum read bible stories, which I enjoyed so much. I was more of a listener than
a reader. This didn’t change much when I grew older. I preferred listening and
watching as opposed to reading. I watched video books and listened to audio
books. I just didn’t understand the fun in reading over 400 pages of tiny words,
yet I could listen to someone do that for me. I was wrong, So wrong because nothing
beats the satisfaction that comes with holding a book in your arms and having
your imagination go wild.

I have since purposed to learn as
many new things as I can, read books about issues I never learnt at school,
learn to interpret and understand art in all it’s forms;- music, drama, design,
poetry etc and many more things that were perceived as impossible to
learn or do. Reading has challenged me to explore, to question and appreciate
diversity and respect differences.
This is my very first attempt to
write a poem. And my first is about the power of Silence. Because my moments of solitude are some of my best life moments. Enjoy!!
SILENCE!!
Look for the invisible,
Listen to the Silences,
Touch your imagination.
Tomorrow is beyond here and now
The picture of thy self can’t be any clearer
In the moment of silence
Renewing the spirit
Giving a glimpse of truth
In that moment, you are a new being
So much noise, yet so silent
Opening your eyes to your deeds
Searching through the torrents of despair
Life seems like a futile uphill climb sometimes
In Silence, you Listen
Two ears, one mouth, lead you to new heights
Your will power sustains you in a moment of Silence
 Be SILENT, LISTEN
-Maureen Agena
Beyond this, I would like to open
a public space where people come together to read, write and express themselves
artistically. It could be a Library or simply an open space. I would like to
see authors mentor potential writers such that we learn to tell our own stories
in our own way as well as document our history and present situations. If you
have ideas on how this can be achieved or would like to support this, your
advice is most welcome.
Comment here or send me an email maureenagena@gmail.com
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ADOPT TECHNOLOGY THAT SUITS PEOPLE

In a continent where internet penetration is low,
mobile technology especially phones can act as an empowerment tool for the
majority of African people.  It is
evident that in Africa, the existing digital divide is not going to be bridged
with Computers and the internet .it is being overcome through Mobile phones which a great majority of
people on the continent own and or have access to.
Networking
without your Computer
A variety of mobile handsets
Although many people argue that the
penetration of Mobile phones into Africa is being overrated, it is true that
for once in decades; Africans now have mass communication that is interactive.
The people who were once excluded from vital
information are increasingly using cell phones to advance their own well-being
and that of their families.  This technological revolution is boosting
local economies, bringing information to remote corners of the world, and
saving lives. Africa is the region with the highest annual growth rate in
mobile phone subscribers worldwide. According
to International Telecommunications Union, there are 6 billion Mobile Phone subscriptions
Globally  (ITU,2011) with over 1 Billion people in Africa, 41% 
having access to mobile phones. 
 

With
the existing Literacy, skills and electricity shortage in Africa, it seems to
be a fantasy rather than a reality to promote a larger use of online media in
Africa. However, Africa can overcome this through the use of Mobile Technology.
It’s almost a year since I joined Text to change a mobile for development organization
with both offices in Uganda and Netherlands but operating in many African
Countries and some in South America. From my experience of managing a maternal
health project; I have learned to appreciate the value of mobile phones for
Women who are usually underserved and or in rural areas.
It’s
evident that there is a huge difference in terms of access, use,
application and control of mobile phones between men and women. Whereas, we all
agree that ICTs can enable both men and women to gain stronger voice in their
communities and that mobile phones can specifically offer women flexibility in
time and space, this is far from reality for many rural women here in Uganda. A
big gender gap exists in accessing communication services. More men than women
access/make use of ICTs.
Given
women’s multiple gender roles and heavy domestic responsibilities, their
leisure hours are few and therefore need a tool that can effectively reduce the “distance” between them as
individuals and institutions thereby making sharing of information and
knowledge easier and more effective. The mobile phone comes in handy.
About Text to Change:
Text to Change (TTC) has a wide range of experience
in conceptualizing, managing and analyzing mobile phone-based
programs. We developed a flexible and easily scalable mobile platform, with
state-of-the-art tools and techniques, to send out and receive text messages,
mms, voice and data. TTC also has strong relationships within the mobile
industry in the countries they work in. Therefore we deliver the full package
from database and software development to content development, data analysis
and interpretation as well as the visualization and reporting, based on our
partner’s needs.  Read more here http://www.texttochange.org/about-ttc