Making Connections to Serve the Community

  • Published Date: March 2017

Jackie Namutawe (Photo: Julius Kasujja)

Jackie Namutawe

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Jackie Namutawe lives in Kampala, Uganda, where she also serves as the District Treasurer for Rotary International District 9211, which comprises clubs in Tanzania and Uganda. As the District Treasurer, she is responsible for managing finances, coordinating collection of Rotary Club dues, drafting the annual district budget, and preparing and presenting financial accountability reports.

As a young Ugandan woman who is active in her community, Jackie regularly sees the importance of family planning and sexual and reproductive health information for mothers and children in local communities. She cares deeply about these issues and she wanted to improve her leadership and management skills to better serve community members in need.

So the aspiring young leader registered as a mentee in the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project’s East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network. Organized on a web-based platform, the mentoring network connected aspiring young women leaders with more experienced women from 14 countries in Africa.

Looking back at her experience, Jackie said, “the mentoring program has been an eye opener, in terms of issues of leadership, personal management, and personal growth.” In September 2015, Jackie attended the Learning Collaborative Forum in Nairobi, Kenya that the LMG Project organized for mentors and mentees. At the Forum, she met other mentors and mentees whom she had engaged with online, but never met in person, including other Ugandan women.

“It didn’t occur to me that you could propose something to someone that you don’t know, and at a later date it takes off…” she mentioned about meeting Angela Semanda, another Ugandan mentee.

Prior to the Forum, Angela had proposed an idea online to other mentees about organizing a community health outreach initiative, starting in Kampala. When Jackie read the idea, she contributed project ideas that she knew from volunteering with Rotary Club partners.

In early 2016, Jackie and Angela would meet at Angela’s pharmacy where the two would brainstorm how the project would work, what activities would be organized, and what population they would focus on. Working together, the two developed a concept note and proposal for “Community Health Solutions Uganda.”

As Jackie explained, the community initiative will look at family planning and reproductive health awareness, “because knowledge is power when it comes to family planning, reproductive health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights… If you are knowledgeable, you can make informed decisions about your life.”

Citing numbers from Family Planning 2020 that estimate nearly 225 million women and girls lack access to modern contraception, Jackie recognized that progress can be made by increasing family planning knowledge and contraceptive access. “We want to bring this service closer to the people, and to educate them."