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Sports among Sabiny may end Female Genital Mutilation

“Kapchorwa” for many Ugandans is synonymous with Olympics or running, simply because it is home to some of the greatest runners that Uganda has ever produced to compete internationally. Yet the same Kapchorwa is associated with Female Genital mutilation (FGM) since it’s home to the Sabiny. Almost every girl in Sabiny land has been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a teenager, and those growing-up will have to face the blade as they approach their puberty if the practice is not completely out-lawed. Read more

Life is Sexually Transmitted

 

“We
are all products of sex and we should not feel ashamed talking or reporting
about it”. These were the opening words of Lisa (Not real Name). She was
speaking to Journalists and Communication officers at a training on reporting
health at Voice of America (VOA) offices during the AIDS2012 conference in
Washington DC, which I was privileged to attend. Lisa was HIV positive and she
said that she was not happy about the little attention that’s given to
reproductive health issues by mainstream media. Her argument was that; many
people are not comfortable talking about SEX.
Asked why, she said that’s her mission now, to find out the big
“WHY”.

Read more

A Kiss from a Giraffe

Growing
up, I was privileged to live in a couple of National Parks in Uganda. This was
so, because my dad was a Sr. member of staff at Uganda Wildlife Authority
(UWA). This meant that for every work transfer, we moved along with him as a
family.  We lived in some of the best
National parks in Uganda like the Murchsion falls, Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori
National Park among others. We often went for game drives, Safaris and camping
and learnt a lot about flora and fauna with training to preserve and conserve nature
from a very young age.
I
remember my dad telling my siblings and I endless stories about the park and
how animals are beautiful ‘people’ and that if we didn’t interfere with the
ecosystem, we could live in peace and harmony with all creatures.  We were never allowed to tamper with any
creature by destroying its habitat or killing it for no reason. Over the years,
I have learnt to respect other creatures and appreciate their role and value in
the ecosystem. For me, nature has always been part of my life.
During  a recent  Thomson Reuters  media training on “Sustainable development in a
changing environment” which took place in Nairobi,While discussing the
Sustainable development Goals that are to replace the MDGS, I learnt that for
anything to be sustainable, it ought to meet the needs of the present
generation without compromising those of 
the future generation to meet their own needs. I am afraid that in the
wake of a changing Climate, characterized by deforestation, destruction of
wetlands, human settlement in national parks and poaching, a lot of the future
needs have been compromised.  And
something has to be done.
As I
plan to embark on an afforestation project in Uganda, I have decided to travel
around Kenya visiting parks and reserves to appreciate the fauna. My first
trips were to the David Shedirck Wildlife trust found within the Nairobi
National Park, dedicated to saving baby elephants and taking them back to the
wild once mature and the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi dedicated to Giraffes. In the video below, I was feeding a Giraffe as
I learnt more about its life and value within the ecosystem. What you observe is the famous “Giraffe Kiss” received by lucky and courageous visitors to the
centre.

I
also did visit the Orphaned Elephants and learnt about their sad stories and
how they ended up at the centre. It is mainly as a result of Ivory Poaching. A
human activity endangering African elephants for their tusks.  Read more here 

A baby Elephant being fed at the David Shedrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.

How
can we move from being addicted to “breaking news” and focus more on
sustainable development issues in a changing climate?  Maybe we could start by being kissed by a giraffe
so that we can appreciate the value of our flora and fauna. Human beings need
to stop being greedy. Just because animals cannot speak they get hurt and when they do, humanity is endangered. This piece was not about being kissed by a Giraffe but rather about the dangers of compromising the needs of the future generations through our selfish acts of destroying flora and fauna. You can do something to change this. What are you going to do today to stop further destruction of our environment? Plant a tree? Report deforestation to save birds? stop reclamation of land for wrong reasons? save those flowers to bring the bees back? what action will you take today? The ball is in your court!

Barriers to mHealth adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa

In Uganda, and Africa at large, the
populace face many challenges with regard to health including but not limited
to; poor facilities, poor social infrastructure, energy shortage especially
electricity and limited access to education. Despite Government’s effort to improve
on the health system, very few individuals, companies and organizations are
tapping into the potential of mobile Technologies for health, even when the
benefits are obvious to populations whose most accessible tool for communication
is a phone. Below are some of the reasons that I personally think contribute to
the little uptake of mhealth.
 
Photo Credit: Edward Echwalu
1.     
Content
The absence of
readily available mobile health related content on specific thematic areas is a
big barrier. Most organizations that implement mhealth projects have to develop
their own content based on the area of focus. eg HIV, Malaria, maternal health
etc. There is also no central database where this content is put for future
reference or to avoid duplication of already implemented mhealth issues. This
leaves room for data redundancy and duplication to target groups.
 
2.     Skills
Because of the
tremendous growth in phone penetration especially in sub-Saharan Africa, there
is a great demand for training in mhealth education. One cannot simply rely on
the assumption that because every at least many people own phones, they can
ably use them for mhealth campaigns. They need to be trained on how to operate
the phones, say for health related surveys or how to respond to health quizzes.
This is still lacking. Unless the mhealth campaigns are inform of interactive
Voice Responses (IVRs), the adoption will still remain slow with the use of
interactive SMS messages especially among the elderly populations.

3.     Gender
Although this
is an issue that is often under looked, it plays a key role in either the
success or failure of mhelath project. It’s obvious that the biggest percentage of those who bear
the burden caused by conflict ,disaster are women and children and they are the
key stakeholders in promoting good health and building stable, self-reliant
communities. Also most mhealth related campaigns target mainly women on issues
like maternal health, child mortality, HIV/AIDs, abortions etc. but ownership
of phones is predominantly male who control what kind of information comes
through the phone, whose mobility is not restricted and who are better economically
empowered to afford maintaining the phones especially in rural areas. Therefore,
Making these projects gender sensitive and involving men right from the onset
of the projects will reduce the barriers.
 
4.     Access/Affordability
This could be viewed in terms of
access to the actual handset especially for the rural folks in rural Africa and
affordability in terms of maintenance such as paying to have the phone charged.
Many people cannot afford a 30USD handset yet most mhealth implementing organizations/companies
only want to work with folks that already own phones. It’s a barrier because
you reach fewer people.

5.     Infrastructure
A lot of mhelath projects in Africa
depend so much on Telecom companies which are responsible for the general
telephony infrastructure eg masts for access to network, distribution of short codes
for those that intend to use SMS etc. In the event that an area does not have
access to a mast, then it is obvious that even if there is a genuine health
need to be addressed through the use of mobile phones, it does not get
attention simply because there are issues of network connectivity. This is one
of the biggest barriers for rural Africa. Also the issuing of short codes by
the Telecoms through communications regulators is bureaucratic.

6.     Attitude
Traditionally
especially in Africa, mobile phones are known for verbal communication. But
with mhealth projects comes a new paradigm shift to the use and application of
phones for accessing health information through SMS. Accepting this change and
adjusting accordingly can be a barrier to SMS based mhealth project. IVR
related mhealth campaigns could be more successful than SMS because voice
messages cut across literacy levels.

7.      Language
This is a barrier because of the fact that the commonly used
language for SMS is English yet sub-Saharan Africa is so diverse. However, this
barrier can be solved through voice messages and using community radios along side the mobile phones.

8.     Political
Will
The success of any project depends on the
positive political will and government support. Often times, mhealth initiatives
by NGOs are meant to compliment already existing government health services and
therefore they must work closely with Government. However, many initiatives
have been destroyed because the Government has not played its role. A case in
point is the moratorium that was issued in Uganda from the Ministry of Health
halting the implementation of all electronic and Mobile Health projects that
were not approved by the Director General. While this was a great initiative to
reduce on duplication of projects and to encourage wider coverage and eliminate
unnecessary pilots, the Ministry did not make the vetting process smooth. It
would take months to have the technical working group at the ministry meet and
approve the projects. This is a source of frustration for projects that have
defined timelines.

I am a visible child from Northern Uganda. Who are the “Invisible Children”?

Having grown up in Northern
Uganda, Lango sub region to be more specific and studied at St. Mary’s College
Aboke, a school from which Joseph Kony’s rebels abducted 139 girls in ordinary
level, the name Kony is not new to me.
For the 4 years that I spent in
that school (1999-2002), together with other students, I remember praying the
Rosary at the School Grotto on daily basis and in the process, reading out the
names of the 30 girl who had remained in captivity after Sr. Rachelle an
Italian Nun together with a Ugandan teacher John Bosco rescued only 109 of them.
An annual date (10th
Oct) was set aside and dedicated to prayers for all the captives. All we did
on that day, was pray for the girls to be realized from captivity. For all those
four years, I had never heard of an organisation called “Invisible children”A (Was founded later) But all I heard, were the stories from some of the girls and children who had
escaped from captivity. In 2002 alone, I could count the number of days I spent
at school as we kept on going back home because of the threats and rumours from the
villagers around (Abongodero and otwal areas) that the rebels wanted to abduct
more girls.
#Stopkony:
A joke or a wakeup call?
I had traveled to western
Uganda for field work on issues of Maternal health when I first read a tweet using
my mobile phones from @Natabaalo a journalist friend here in Uganda on Tuesday 06/03/2012
with the hash tag (#stopkony). For a moment, I treated it as a joke until I
read many more talking about ‘Uganda’ and ‘Kony’ as topics trending worldwide
on twitter. Being a social media enthusiast, I rushed to facebook to cross
check and find out if a similar discussion was going on.  I was shocked to find a video shared on my
wall by an old girl of St. Mary’s College Aboke (Bernadette Manisula
Nagita
) who works as a communications person with Invisible
Children here in Uganda. This was the message that accompanied the video that
has now gone Viral.

Trusting you will do more
than just watch….help spread the word…..
I watched the video and sent
her my feeback  So what exactly
am I supposed to do with this video? Share? Not me dear.
For the first 5 minutes I had
no idea what the video was about until I later on saw the old images of LRA and
attentively listened.
As the discussion grew on
twitter, I realised that the internet has indeed become part of everyday life
and has played an increasing role in the delivery of news about issues that
concern citizen. Today, a new form of internet journalism –Citizen Journalism
has taken root and many ordinary citizens have learnt how to argument, report
and fact-check videos like #Kony2012.
Just like @RosebellK another
Journalist in Peace & Conflict here in Uganda, I have problems with this video because it not only tarnishes
Ugandan’s image but also undermines the effort that different Governments and
peace lovers like ArchBishop Baptist Odama of Gulu put in, to have peace talks that could
bring this war to an end. It totally portrays the hopelessness of Ugandans to
help themselves out of this situation and the intervention of some Americans who
“care” so much about the plight of the children in Northern Uganda. I tend to
think that it is a one man show video. “Invisible children might be advocating
for a good Cause but used a very wrong Approach” like @jssozi put it.
I hardly doubt that the people
of Northern, Eastern and West Nile regions in Uganda, the most affected
by this war have any idea that a video talking about their plight has gone
viral on the internet. It’s 2012 and the people of Northern and eastern Uganda
are in the post conflict era and re-settling. Why doesn’t the video at least give a
brief  highlight of this current situation rather than threaten the entire globe with out-dated
information? Does “Invisible Children” have an idea what impression of Uganda
has been portrayed to a world that still believes Idi Amin is alive and still terrorising
us? What will happen to our tourism sector?  Below are some of the interesting
reactions;
  • James  Akena: (Reuters PhotoJournalist in Uganda from Gulu)
    reacting to BBC Qn:
What will
happen if Joseph Kony is not killed or captured by December 31st? My government
and its military commanders gave many deadlines for capturing or killing this
madman several times and they failed. Equally these young Americans trying out
to become famous out of sufering of my people will surely fail as well!!! James
Akena.
  • Marcus
    Wagenaar(From Netherlands but working in Uganda)
“To all who have watched the video KONY 2012 that
has made the rounds of the internet: Uganda is a very safe place (I live there)
and was voted top 1 tourist destination for 2012 by Lonely Planet. The Lords
Resistance Army (LRA) was defeated in 2006 and the
Nothern region of Uganda has been stable and safe ever since. (I’ve been
there twice in the last 12 months). And the most important thing: JOSEPH KONY
IS NOT IN UGANDA, I repeat, he is NOT in Uganda. Please don’t let internet
propaganda shape your opinion about a far away country you know nothing about.”
  • James
    Wire(Ugandan)
“InvisibleChildren is
probably paving way for some foreign interests that want 2 monitor Uganda ‘s
oil under the pretext of military aid.”

“The invisible Children effort 2 commercialise
the Kony atrocities is a disgrace to us in Uganda. They must be seeking
relevance. #KONY2012”

Invisible
Children either has to make another video that depicts the real truth and the
real issues or apologize to the people of Uganda and the VISIBLE CHILDREN affected
by war for such a misrepresentation. For now, our focus is on the nodding head disease.
,

Can AFRICANS tell their own story through Social Media?

Highlights of a brief conversation:
Nova Scotian: Hello, Where do you come from? Or Hello, Are you from Africa?
Me: Africa/ yes
Nova Scotian: Oh, which part of Africa
Me: East Africa
Nova Scotian: Which Country
Me: Uganda
Nova Scotian: UGANDA!!!(With a smile)…….Idi Amin and LRA. That’s what it’s known for. Right?
Me: Because that’s what the media portrays. Right?
Nova Scotian: But that’s what we all we know about Uganda.
Me: Really? Never heard of the Rwenzori Mountains or Inzikuru in the Olympics?
Nova Scotian: No
And the conversation goes on and on and on depending on how much the individual knows or is willing to know about Uganda!!
Not one, not two and not even three but many people have asked me that question(Where do you come from/ Are you from Africa?) for the 3 months I have so far spent in Nova Scotia, Canada.  It’s amazing that they ask with lots of enthusiasm and when you mention that you come from Africa, they are quick to ask which part/Country.  I used to take this so lightly but after I noticed a similar response from all those I interacted with and talked to about Africa, I began noticing something funny.
Thirty two (32) years after Idi Amin stopped ruling Uganda, and about seven (7) years after his death, he is remembered and known more than all the presidents who ruled after him. The funniest thing is that he is known for the Tyranny and bloodshed. Second to Idi Amin is the Lord’s Resistance Army (a.k.a LRA) known for abduction, rape as well as cutting off lips and Noses of their victims? When I ask a question like; Is there anything good and positive that you know of, or have ever heard about Uganda? They innocently say no. Some are even quick to add that another bad thing they have heard that is so recent, is that Uganda is a homophobic country. 
The Media: They have the Power to influence and change perception.
I usually get so inquisitive and ask; How do you get to know all these details about Idi Amin, LRA etc yet you have never been to Uganda?, most people say through News. What do you mean by news? I ask. “We watch all that stuff on CNN and BBC is the response I get. Of course they are right and it’s true but what keeps me wondering, is that even after all this time with no Amin and LRA in Uganda, people think that it’s still the case even in 2011. Why is too much emphasis put on such issues? Can’t the news be balanced such that equal emphasis is put on both the good and bad? Just a handful of people know about our beautiful Muchision falls, our conducive weather, our Olympics heros and the fact that we are the ‘pearl of Africa’.  What exactly do professional journalists report about? Or what are they supposed to report? Are there journalists who write positive stories? I would love to meet them.
Can Africans tell their story though social Media to change negative perception?
Ivorycoast, then Tunisia, followed by Egypt then Libya took  over the news headlines despite the fact that Yemen, and Morrocco were in similar situations, A week later Japan  made news headlines with the earthquake that has claimed approximately 10,000 lives…..and the stories go on to celebrities like Lady Gaga visiting Google offices and Taylor Elizabeth passing on. That is main stream media for you! So what am I supposed to watch or listen to and follow with all this news coming up?
And who alerts the media houses about the situation? It’s the citizen Journalists through social sites like twitter, youtube and facebook which are now accessible on many mobile phones.  With more citizens owning phones and accessing internet, can Africans now tell their own story to the world? Can we have more African Journalists (both professional and citizen) reporting good things about Africa like the Americans and Europeans do about America and Europe? Can African Journalist produce documentaries featuring African Icons and heros that we can watch and feel proud of?  What about Africans in the diaspora who are contributing so much to these already developed countries socially, economically and politically, what are their stories?  I seem to have more questions. What do you think?
AFRICA= POVERTY? HUNGER? DISEASE?(Watch this!)

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN UGANDA’s 2011 GENERAL ELECTION. My Perspective!

For the past three days, I have been thinking so hard about the outcome of the elections in Uganda after watching on Television the revolutions in the middleEast that saw former Tunisian and Egyptian presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak being forced out of power by the people they were supposed to lead. The reasons are always the same; Chronic Corruption, unemployment and dictatorship among others. 
As I sat in my room at school in St. Mary’s Halifax  a small town in Canada’s Ocean Playground, I could not keep my eyes off my laptop for updates that came in from facebook friends and twips. I kept looking out for updates on newspapers/magazines in Uganda like the Kampala Dispatch, The Independent and Daily Monitor.
On the social websites these were some of the tweets and topics that filled my friends’ status updates.
·         Uganda bans SMS texting of key words during poll ‘Egypt’, ‘bullet’, ‘people power’ etc
·         Museveni making personal calls to voters on their mobile phones just before elections
·         UPC flag Presidential Candidate Mr. Olara Otunnu did not vote for himself
·         Presidential candidates’ names missing on voters lists
·         Fights and scandals by some members of political parties like Mafabi
·         Gender discrimination in politics analysis. Only men analysing elections
·         Updates of polling results from different stations
·         Being reminded to use #ugandavotes as the tweeter Hash tag
·         Heavily guarded streets of Kampala
·         And finally about some prominent Members of parliament who have lost their seats.
As I read all these real time updates from youthful friends that I personally know, I was praying that peace prevails during this time. And from the updates that I am still reading, the situation seems to be okay.
Politics has never been something of interest to me, though I know that am affected by the outcome in one way or another. My focus is on how ICTs especially social networks have played a significant role to keep me updated about the situation in my home country.
What does Foreign Media report about African?
At first, I thought that by watching Television (CTV and CBS) here in Halifax, I would  get some good information about what was going on in Uganda. However, I was not surprised when it was not even mentioned anywhere in the news bulletin for the number of times I happened to be watching. This got me thinking that ”What if Kony the LRA rebel leader had abducted people in Uganda” maybe that would have made news. Unbothered by that, I resorted to one of my best companions, MY LAPTOP. With  the super fast internet here, all I had to do was open as many windows with websites and readily access information about the election progress. Twitter was first on the list, Facebook, the independent Newpaper,The Kampala Dispatch and The Daily Monitor. I must confess that I was shocked but at the same time impressed by the number of people who were tweeting using the #ugandavotes tag.  It was because of this that I was inspired to quickly write this blog post.
State of Technology in Uganda is still wanting:
Also the fact that Mr. Museveni’s (Probably through an automated voice) personal call to people who are subscribed to Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) showed that he had finally appreciated the role of ICTs and will this time (if declared president, which is most likely according to the statistics coming in ),appoint an ICT minister who understands the urgency with which Uganda has to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology and not for the sake of appointing.
I did not personally have an opportunity to cast my vote, because the nearest Uganda Embassy is in Ottawa and that required a flight. Just imagine a situation where I could vote online and my note remains valid regardless of my location. That’s the Uganda we want to see with the new president.
Mr. New President my concluding Request is :  Please appoint a New and different minister for Education and Sports as well as another one for ICT, I will be very thankful.
Thanks  Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire for the constant updates on your facebook, blog and Twitter accounts.

DISABILITY is not INABILITY: Women,ICTs and Disability in Northern Uganda

“I am not good at videography especially editing but I believe you will all get the message clearly.”
The convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPF) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006. A major milestone for all persons living with disabilities around the world, it is the 8th Universal Convention on Human Rights of  which majority of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member States are signatories to the convention.
Article 9 of the CRPD defines ICT accessibility as an integral part of accessibility rights on par with transportation and physical environment for PWDs. There are indeed so many challenges for PWDs to realize their fundamental Human Right of access to information especially in the developing countries
These challenges include but are not limited to;
  • · Low education levels of  PWDs especially in the developing countries,
  • Absence of assistive technologies to help even the educated PWDs,
  • The absence of clear intervention strategies by governments, local disability leadership and other    stakeholders to save the situation,
  • The fact that majority PWDs live in the most rural parts of Africa and therefore can’t be covered by the available ICTs.
And although the Mobile telephone technology is greatly improving accessibility to information in Africa, its applicability for use by people with disabilities is still highly wanting. There are barriers to accessibility mainly because of the different designs of  ICT tools used by people in the mainstream which are not adaptable for use by the PWDs.
In one of the resent trainings for PWDs in Gulu which was organized by Women of Uganda Network with an aim to increase civil society organisations’ use of  and interaction with various forms of media especially PWDs who since time immemorial have been left out of ICT related programs and projects, I was privileged to facilitate a number of session on how ICTs can be used by and for PWDs. The training took place at Gulu Union of Persons with Disability on December 2010 and it was specifically offered to Gulu Landmine Survivors, A local Women’s group in Gulu. The level of enthusiasm and zeal portrayed by the woman was overwhelming. They were eager to learn, listen, implement and share. They wanted to share their stories with the entire world and be heard.
I was drawn to two particular participants, Ms. Adong Lucy a blind Woman and Ms. Jenifer Arach a deaf and dumb Youth. For Lucy, being disabled was not the issue, her issues was about the unfriendliness of ICT tools towards the PWDs especially the blind. She cited an example of airtime cards which are very user unfriendly to the blind. She said that Telecommunication Companies should be sensitive to the PWDs and produce airtime cards with the digits written in braille. In this way, even a blind person would be in position to load credit to their phone without being manipulated. In this video, Lucy shared with me why ICTs have to be user friendly to PWDs.

Jenifer Arach a youth from Gulu on the other hand said that despite the fact that she is a school dropout dumb and deaf, she is very interested in learning especially typing. She said that she wants to own a phone to ease her communication (Mainly SMS) and to increase on her networking opportunities. She shared her story with me.

Why the need to improve web/ICT accessibility for PWDs
Since time immemorial, PWDs all over the word are faced with the problem of exclusion and Isolation. This has contributed to their low levels of education therefore exclusion from majority of social services. During this training, it was noted that there is need to improve ICT accessibility for PWDs and this could be done through the following suggested ways:
·   Easy access to the web which can be used for news, information, commerce & entertainment among others though aiding devices like the Braile for the blind and speech software.
·       Adopting new technologies like real time captioning which is very relevant for the deaf.
·        Using other assistive technologies like mobile phones which are speech and visual aided. 
Proposals and plans of actions Identified at an ITU/UCC workshop held in 2010 in Kampala to address these challenges;
a) As a means of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development of infrastructure; it was proposed that a universal access fund for Infrastructure especially geared to underprivileged areas, and disadvantaged groups including women, youth and persons with disabilities be established;
b) Governments in partnership with civil society should  increase opportunities for training of women and persons with disabilities through education, training and human resource development taking into account special consideration of underprivileged areas;
c) As part of policy development process, the participation of women and other disadvantaged groups should be facilitated and encouraged in the ICT policy development and implementation process.

I weep for my nation Uganda: Our Education system is failing us.

I only heard, learned and studied about them in high school back in Africa; The Atlantic Ocean, the snow, the Hudson bay, Appalachians …….. e.t.c and now  am right here seeing them with my very own eyes and having the actual picture of what I only had an opportunity, to see in text books and on Television some years ago. Yes, I am writing this from Nova Scotia Canada.
When I left Uganda on 1st January 2011 for North America, in pursuit of a Masters’ degree, all I could think about was, what lay ahead of me and how I would cope with the new education system which I believed was so different from that in Africa, specifically Uganda.

Just one week and a half into the semester at St. Mary’s University Halifax, http://www.smu.ca/ My thoughts are turning into reality. The education system, the style of lecturing and the reading culture are not only different from those in Uganda but far way advanced.  On the first day of my class, I missed two lectures because I was not up to speed. I was still figuring out how to register myself online for the courses I was supposed to take, which I did not complete in time to attend both lectures. When I finally got registered and started attending my very first class (Human and Computer interaction), I was impressed by the method of teaching, it was so inclusive, participatory and practical (though with gender issues in terms of students taking on the course). It even involved live streaming of vidoes on Youtube  about the importance of  observing human behavior when planning to design a system . See highlight of Vidoes 

Lots of interesting sessions followed.
But the only thing that came to my mind was Uganda’s education system. It’s true that it  experienced a major expansion when it started implementing the Universal Primary Education programme in 1997. Enrollment figures increased enormously and there are now about 8 million children enrolled in Primary schools but quality didn’t improve at the same speed. Current characteristics of education in Uganda include high absenteeism rates for pupils and teachers (up to 20%), low completion rate (54%) especially for girls, prevalent violence against children in schools and lack of sanitation (1 latrine for 66 pupils)-UNICEF, Kampala. I just had to lament to myself.
Until now, even as I write this short blog, I can’t help but weep for a nation full of young energetic and brilliant citizens whose energy is wasted as a result of unemployment that stems from the poor education system (FYI, I have been through the whole system) and who are being slowly but surely weakened and killed by the AIDS epidemic.
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda: 1.2 million HIV-positive adults, 150,000 HIV-positive children, 120,000 new infections per year, 64,000 deaths per year, 6-7% of adults HIV-positive, 350,000 in need of antiretroviral drugs and 1.2 million Orphans due to AIDS”
As a young woman, I will devote my time and energy to try and help fellow young people in my country change the future of our nation. FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY!

Technology, Gender and Violence!! Break the Silence.

As I anxiously wait to join the rest of the world in marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence(GBV) from 25 November 2010 to 10 December 2010 whose regional theme is “Engaging Faith-based Communities to Prevent Violence against Women” focusing on how our faiths and faith-based communities can (and should!) get involved in preventing violence against women, I can’t help think of the millions of mothers, sisters, Aunties and nieces who have been violated yet still remain helpless and silent despite the growing opportunities and improved technology which can help them break the silence through sharing and reporting.

According to a Ugandan psychologist Paul Nyende violence ranges from Physical, Emotional, Economic and financial. In physical abuse, usually physical force against someone is used meaning that sexual abuse fits in this. A signs of this, is being viewed as a sex object or property rather than a human being. Whereas in emotional abuse, the abuser attacks the victim’s spirit by eating away their feelings of self-worth and independence making the victim feel trapped and worthless. Signs of emotional abuse are humiliation, being yelled at and teased in a hurtful way both privately and publicly, Verbal insults and calling you names against your will as well as using threats.

The financial abuse which is usually ignored by many, involves the abuser controlling their victim financially; the signs include monitoring one’s account for every penny spent, not letting you get on with your career or sabotaging you at your place of work.
MAJOR TACTICS USED BY ABUSERS.
Dominance: This is used so that the abuser is in charge of the relationship.

Humiliation: This is to make the Victim feel bad about him/herself.

Isolation: This is to increase the victim’s dependence on the abuser.

Threats: To scare the victim into staying with the abuser

Intimidation: To make the victim submit to the abuser’s will, this involved denial and placing blame to push into excusing the inexcusable.

AND WHO BREAKS THE SILENCE?
With the emergence of New Media and Technology, it is now evident that the power of the media is in the hands of the people. The only issue is how this power is being used to create positive social change in regard to combating Gender Based Violence. Web 2.0 technologies have given people the power of real time reporting, networking and receiving timely information, but how many people have the technical know-how of using them? Then the mobile phones whose subscription in Africa alone has surpassed five million http://ht.ly/37Ks7 and powerful penetration to the rural communities and can be used to combat gender based violence, How many people use up to 50% of the mobile phone application/functionality? How many are aware that it combines text, video and Audio?

Many people have mentioned to me that you get more knowledge by asking many questions. I am desperate to learn from you the readers of this article.
I conclude by quoting one man from Eastern Uganda who once said that: “For every bullet that hits a man during war kills a Woman’s Child”
Gender based violence is real and it affects all of us, some directly and others indirectly. But the good news is that it’s within our power to end it.