This blog is the first in a series featuring the stories of the mentors and mentees in the East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network. An online network, the East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network provides emerging women leaders in East Africa with access to experienced mentors for active support in professional and personal development related to family planning and reproductive health. The Mentoring Network’s results will be presented next month at the International Conference on Family Planning. Leading up the conference, this blog series will share one mentor/mentee pair’s story each week. This week features Christine Butegwa of Uganda and Terry Shinudu of Kenya.
“I joined the East African Women’s Mentoring Network because I believe in the power of mentorship. I myself have been mentored in my career and personal journey, mainly indirectly by women who are important in my life, men too. I want to give back to young women who are in the family planning field,” said Christine Butegwa, former Gender and Sexual Rights Advisor at the Africa Regional Office of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPFARO). Christine is a mentor to Terry Shiundu who works as a Human Resources and Administration Officer for LVCT Health, an indigenous Kenyan NGO working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Terry’s goals as part of the East Africa Women’s Mentoring Network include enrolling in a PhD program for Business Management to enable her to start her own children’s coaching business, and to spread family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) knowledge in her community.
With 16 years of experience in the development sector focusing on human rights and family planning, Christine was able to help Terry to create and facilitate a seminar on family planning and reproductive health to present to female members of her church.
“At church, my husband is the pastor, we have many women that have trouble accessing services and information around reproductive health. My mentor gave me materials to help and it was so exciting for me to give a talk to the women about FP/RH. Many members don’t have internet access, so information is through word of mouth. Many said this cleared up some uncertainties and myths. It’s not comfortable to talk about FP/RH in church, but reproductive health is a part of life and through the church we can increase awareness and deliver correct information,” Terry said.
There was such a positive response to her seminar that the church requested Terry to present the information to young women in their community. Terry and her church are also planning to organize a medical camp in their community that incorporates reproductive health services.
Terry has completed the initial objectives that she had set out for herself at the start of the network and will be starting the PhD program in September, 2015. She is now creating new goals to complete with Christine’s help.
Terry has not been the only one who benefitted from the mentoring relationship. Christine believes that the mentoring helped her hone her relationship building skills. One of the main lessons she learned is the importance of setting a clear objective and structure to guide the mentoring relationship. As a stronger mentor, Christine looks forward to being able to connect and guide more young professionals.
Photo Credit: Sarah McKee