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Jacqueline Mutumba On a Path To Demistify Mental Health In Uganda

Almost all of great work going down at what has become home, at IHSU, happens over coffee. We build and create over coffee and we have therefore decided to follow up over coffee. We are incredibly proud of the major strides our Alumni are taking in the different areas of society & community that interest them.

We caught up with Jacqueline Mutumba, an alum of the second cohort of the Applied ICTs and Leadership program for some coffee-time. This article is an insight into who Jacque is, what she’s passionate about and what you should look out for, because she’s surely bringing it! In the words of an unusually chatty Jacqueline…

Venturing Into IT, Business and Mental Health

Entrepreneurship, IT for business, and Mental Health awareness are subjects that are very close to my heart me because I have experienced relatives who were/are mentally ill and I have seen people treat them differently and even be afraid of them because of their condition, yet all they want is to be accepted and treated just like everyone else.

Jacque Mutumba at the 2016 Zimba Women Technology for Business Summit

Jacque Mutumba at the 2016 Zimba Women Technology for Business Summit

Youth Empowerment and mentoring, not only for the girl child but for the young men as well is something I’ve become very passionate about, in the past few months, because I feel that they are a neglected part of the community, most organizations focus on helping the girls. If you walk along the streets of Kampala at any time of the day you will notice the large number of idle young men. It is very sad because these young men look very energetic and capable of achieving a lot with the proper guidance.

This time last year

When I first read about the Applied ICT in health and leadership, I worried a little that it would be exclusively about IT and eventually its use in the health sector. However what I actually experienced was far beyond that.

“I wanted more and more to help people in my work and not just to earn a living.”

One of our first sessions was the unit on leadership and that was a life-changing experience for me. I discovered self-leadership, a concept I was not really familiar with. I am naturally an introvert but I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and take on challenging roles. The course covered various aspects that I did not originally expect but have been very useful in my subsequent projects like Stakeholder engagement, Finance and costing, Project planning, Pitching and presentation.

The Breakthrough

I got my breakthrough in what I want to do during the need finding session of the course. I earned my first degree in industrial chemistry and I have worked in that field but I always felt like that is not what I was meant to do.

Jacqueline Mutumba took part in the Mariestopes Health Hackathon and created a mobile solution for disseminating SRHR Information

Jacqueline Mutumba took part in the Mariestopes Health Hackathon and created a mobile solution for disseminating SRHR Information

I wanted to do more! I wanted more and more to help people in my work and not just to earn a living. During our need finding process we visited Butabika and Bossa Mental ward at Mulago. We toured the wards and talked to the counselors and I realized I wanted to be a part of making a change the mental health situation in Uganda. I wanted to change the mind-sets of people about it by creating awareness and eradicating the various misconceptions out there.

My experiences over those six months, especially stemming from the leadership class enabled me to step out of my introverted nature and be able to speak publicly and confidently to youth about how to create jobs for themselves and avoid the depression associated with joblessness. I have also been able to take on roles as a mentor for teenage girls.

What Now?

I am currently working with Aidah Bukubuza, a formidable woman I met on the second day of the Applied ICTs class, on a youth empowerment project in the rural parts of central Uganda. We teach young people valuable skills that can help them create jobs for themselves and also boost their current small businesses. These include Basic Computer Training; how to use a computer, Using social media for marketing, Entrepreneurship, self- leadership (How to conduct their work ethically, how to behave in society) and health education (This includes mental health).

“Programs like Applied ICTs and Leadership which way more than your value for money are the future”

We were recently honored with an opportunity to work with the Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF) to create awareness for mental health, depression and PTSD among the youth starting January 2017. The Peter C. Alderman Foundation helps people to rebuild, recover and thrive. A humanitarian and social innovation agency with operations in Africa and Asia, PCAF implements programs to strengthen mental health and recovery for communities devastated by war and armed conflict.This news came shortly after I had been accepted into the Yali Regional Leadership Program, Cohort 13, which will commence 21 st November in Nairobi.

Jacque Mutumba & Aidah Bakubuza at the Zimba Women Tech For Business Summit

Jacque Mutumba & Aidah Bakubuza at the Zimba Women Tech For Business Summit

What The Youth Need Now More Than Ever

I am very glad I joined the course because it opened up my mind, developed me as an individual and opened so many doors for me that I didn’t even know existed. Programs like Applied ICTs and Leadership which way more than your value for money are the future, because what we need isn’t much more knowledge than we already have, but a Shift In Mindset to use what we already have better!

Opportunities like these foster the building of valuable networks that will further your career and last a life-time. To have people build careers and not just search for a job, that fore-sight and long term planning is a lesson I can never unlearn or even be able to give back for.

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