My name is Shanirah Chemutai and I am 24 years of age from Eastern Uganda; Sebei sub-region, Kapchorwa District. I am the last born among 4 children. I was raised by two very strong and hardworking women; my mother Ms. Nakawuki Hawa and my Aunt Ms. Shamim Chebet who took me through life and education having lost my dad at the age of two. I graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business administration from Makerere University Business School with a second class upper.
Before I graduated, I got a chance to work with the Uganda Wildlife Authority as a volunteer in the tourism and accounts department for a period of 8 months. I got to learn a lot of things that I have always taken for granted that include Uganda and its various tourism attractions, flora and fauna, several cultural values among others. I got an opportunity to visit Mt. Elgon National park up to Wagagai, which is the highest pick, Pianupe Wildlife Reserve enriched with so many bird species and animals, Kidepo National park and also met different people from various walks in life, different cultures and their values like the Imbalu culture in Bugisu region. I must say I came to know some of the beautiful reasons why Uganda is called the pearl of Africa! It surely is!!
Working with Uganda Wildlife Authority inspired me to join the Beauty pageant (miss tourism Eastern region) in August 2016. We went through the basic trainings by the Director of the pageant Ms. Reacheal Kakungulu and her team. This included public speaking, social conduct, self-esteem, girl ethics and qualities of a vitreous woman in general. This whole process took a month and finally I was crowned miss tourism Sebei region and first runner up miss tourism Eastern Uganda 2016/2017. With the tourism theme being: “Plant a tree today and save the world”, I came up with a tree-planting project and named it “Green Africa Climate change”. This was last year in November and approximately 70 trees were planted in Kapchorwa district Sipi region in Sipi sub-county and some in Kakungulu Hill, Mbale.
I did this with the Eastern tourism team and my gratitude goes to Mr. Rotich Christopher Ssimba, Managing Director of the famous Noah’s Ark Hotel and Sipi Falls Resort who played a big role in making this project a success. He Provided seedlings for planting, facilitated our stay at his beautiful hospitable resort and also facilitated our visit to Sipi Water Falls after the tree planting activity. We had such a great time and May God bless him for me and the team! A month after (December), I was reading the newspaper and Airtel Uganda, a telecommunication company was in need of marketers, I gave it a shot and fortunately I was offered the opportunity.
I have worked in Kampala, Gulu, Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko and currently in Iganga District. Working in these different areas and interacting with different people has left me with a lot of exposure and knowledge about life especially the refugee camps in Adjumani and Yumbe. Seeing over 2000 internally displaced people in the camps going through pain, grief, and trauma, all made me appreciate life more.
I wished I could stop the wars in South Sudan at once so they could go back to their country, unite with their families again and be hopeful of tomorrow. All I could afford to offer them was prayer. Being so passionate about children and mothers, it broke my heart seeing lactating mothers and their children with nearly no clothes on, hungry children, pregnant women and especially instances where some mothers lost their babies due to illnesses like pneumonia, fever, while giving birth among others always left me tearing. Thanks to UN, which is now playing a big role in providing basic needs like food, medication and education in the refugee camps. Every human being deserves to be happy!
“Our Mothers, Our Heroines” is a statement that has been in my mind for a long time now. Right from the day I saw a mother who had just given birth in Kapchorwa Main Hospital where I had gone to visit a sick relative, carrying her baby with nearly a rag for a baby showel. I just couldn’t get it off my mind. What challenged me was that even with the non-appealing looks of this mother and the new born; she still had a smile through her eyes. I saw many more of the kind and there was a very huge difference between an urban mother who in addition to God’s blessing of a baby receive many other presents like “it’s a boy, it’s a girl“ cards, fancy baby showels, flowers and so on. These rural mothers do not have much to receive but the blessing of a child. With no baby jelly to leave glowing on their children’s skins or nice baby carrier. What makes them equivalent to the urban mothers is the joy of child bearing and the love for their children.
I then came up with a small project and named it “Our Mothers, Our heroines”. I thought heroes’ day would be the perfect day to execute it. I contacted the Kapchorwa Hospital Medical Personnel Dr. Ecroy Robert to ascertain how many mothers are usually in the maternity Ward and he said 50. Well, I then came up with the things I needed to take to them (Baby showels, baby receivers, baby oils, baby soap, laundry soap and not forgetting Heroes Day Cake!!!!). My Budget was close to UGX: 2.5million. This was quite a lot of money for me to raise alone but thank God for my friends who supported me so much in raising this money and attending the event. This wasn’t easy at all but God has always been faithful. We managed to buy some of the items we had planned.
Kaboom!!! 9th June 2017 was here. And by 11.00 a.m. I and 8 of my friends were at Kapchorwa Main Hospital Maternity Ward, with our heroines of all times, OUR MOTHERS! The smiles they had on their faces were immeasurable. They loved the gifts, they loved our presence, they loved the cake, and they loved us!!!! And that was all I needed. My joy was filled. We interacted a lot with them, carried the new borns, they told us about the whole child bearing experience especially this one particular mother who had given birth to triplets. It was so exciting for us and the team. We Left the hospital at around 4.00 p.m. with that fulfilling feeling that not even gold can replace. I could do this daily or weekly if I was in position to!! But whenever I can, I will gladly love to put a smile on a mother’s face, a child’s face, or anyone else who needs help.
I am joining hands with a few friends of mine where we will come up with a group name and then plan for a bigger project that will create a bigger impact on the lives of mothers and children and the helpless. This will require a lot of time and money but as they say, “Where there is a will, there is a way”, we will do all we can. Everything we possess becomes of double value when we share it. Besides my passion for humanitarianism, I also applied for a Master’s Degree at Makerere University Business School awaiting admission. I am hoping this will give me more chances to a better paying job and enable me reach out to those in need with ease
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