Giving Back to Society – The Story of a TAGDev Alumni

My name is Nafula Marveen and I recently graduated from Gulu University with a Masters degree in Food Security and Community Nutrition, courtesy of Mastercard foundation through RUFORUM. Growing up, I had a passion for transforming the community and touching lives because I know how it feels to change someone’s story. My narrative changed when I got the opportunity to stay at school because I had lost all hope when my parents passed on when I was nine years old. Mala Yousafzi once said weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. When I got the opportunity, I put aside my fears and I was determined to pursue my dreams, make my guardians and sponsors proud; I committed myself to contribute to transforming lives of other disadvantaged people in my and other communities. Indeed, young women who want an education will not be stopped– Frelda Pinto. I am glad that through my current job, I am able to reach out to the young girls in schools and inspire them to work hard for the world is moving faster and girls ought to be empowered. I currently work with Andre Foods International, a local organisation implementing a community based supplementary feeding program. My roles include developing strategies and action plans for improving Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) service delivery and strengthening implementation and monitoring of SBCC activities, promoting, supporting and protecting SBCC practices, ensuring that all staff understand and implement the SBCC program guidelines, preparing training materials and conducting SBCC trainings. Through my engagements with schools, I have been able to talk to young girls and inspire them to work hard to achieve their dreams. As a gender focal person in the organisation, I have been in position to use the platform to empower young girls and boys. For instance, I have empowered young girls with skills to make re-usable pads as the prices of disposable pads is currently on the rise.

Pupils at Kalosarich Primary School in Kotido District displaying the sanitary pads they made

I got my current job through a social media platform when I approached an expert in my area of specialisation and marketed my skills to her. Eventually she connected me to my current employer and I am glad that today I am able to transform the communities in Karamoja region in North-Eastern Uganda towards ending malnutrition.

During my study at Gulu University, I managed to get an internship placement at the Nutrition Ward in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital where I was able to apply the knowledge I had acquired in class on community nutrition, i.e., the referral pathways for malnutrition cases, the four components of the Imam guidelines and most importantly the management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) which when not handled appropriately can lead to high mortality. While at Gulu University, I led a group of other graduate students to organize cooking demonstrations while doing internship at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital. We were able to group the locally available foods in different food groups, taught mothers about the values of the different food groups and demonstrated to them how to prepare the different foods in such a way that the nutrients are retained right from the time of washing till the meal is ready while observing hygiene and sanitation.

Mothers paying attention during the food demo
Graduate students at GRRH demonstrating to the mothers the locally available foods and their food values

Right from the way back from Egerton University in Kenya where we had entrepreneurship training, my mindset changed from being employed to being an employer and am working hard towards achieving my dream of being self-employed in future. I would like to put the skills that I acquired at undergraduate studies for setting up a farm and creating employment opportunities for youths out there. I together with my colleagues have started making and selling liquid soap and we do sell to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, clinics, shops and to individuals.

Growing up as a total orphan was the toughest journey for me and my siblings. I was raised by a paternal aunt having lost both my parents in the year 2000. I grew up in Busia District located in Eastern Uganda. Ours was a house that had only orphans and widows, a two bed-roomed house that accommodated 12 children and five adults. Luckily enough for the children it was free primary education (Universal Primary Education). The trouble came in at Secondary level where most of my cousins had to drop out of school because the guardians could not afford school fees. The only source of livelihood back then was subsistence farming, the proceedings from the sale of cassava and potatoes were used to procure scholastic materials. We used to walk 8 km to school bare footed, had only one meal a day which was always taken before dark because the family could not afford kerosene to light the house at night. If there was any homework from school, we made sure we did it before we left school in the evening.

When I joined Secondary school, I knew I had to work hard to keep myself in school. Through the help of the Head Teacher who spotted the potential in me, I was able to win a scholarship for my studies in both O’level and A’level with FAWEU (Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter). I worked hard at school to maintain my good grades as this was one of the conditions to be supported by the scholarship. When I finished A’level, I got a Government sponsorship to pursue a Bachelors degree in Animal Production and Management at Busitema University. When I finished my degree, I managed a number of farms in Uganda before I crossed to South Sudan and worked there for a year. Later on, an insurgency broke out that forced me to return to Uganda. I had the passion to pursue further studies and today I am grateful to Mastercard Foundation through RUFORUM for having given me the opportunity to pursue my career. I pledge to empower fellow youths with the skills I have and I will continue to inspire the girl children so that they can achieve their dreams too.

Contact Nafula Marvee at Email:

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