This week’s speaker is Felix Mwebe who is from Uganda. He joined Rotary as a Rotactor and will become President of his club in July. He shares his hopes and dreams with our resident interviewer John Isles.
John: Hi Felix and welcome. I have seen your C.V. and it is most impressive but perhaps you could tell us a little about yourself.
Felix: I come from a humble background. My parents taught me many values such as appreciating the origin of your success and contributing back in the future. For my case, it’s to contribute back to the society. It’s always my interest to serve in the public sector.”
My education background is in Telecommunication and Software engineering. I got an opportunity to work with UNICEF in the Technology For Development unit, where I developed my passion for Innovation, with a wide exposure to the radical world.
I have a strong belief that, the world shouldn’t assume what young people can or can’t do. Instead, think of what they could achieve if they had adequate support and mentoring. If mankind has this kind of attitude, I think this world would be a much better place to live.
My dream is to be part of something simple but with a great and positive impact, something not complex but serves value to the current generation and generations after.
John: I know that you won the African Young Achiever Award in 2013. How did that come about and what did you do to win it?
Felix: Well, together with a multidisciplinary team, we developed a sensor-driven system called “San-Trac” which provides audio hand washing reminders, collects hand washing data and transmits it via SMS to a remote server. From there data can be aggregated and viewed remotely for insights about hand washing trends and toilet usage in real time. The sensor system is solar powered, and provides a cell phone charging station for restroom users.
With the “San-Trac” System, we participated in the Sanitation Innovation challenge both at country and at the world level, representing UNICEF, and we were Awarded with the Winner and People’s Choice Award at national and international level respectively.
John: I also know that you are an Ambassador for Malaria Free Uganda in partnership with the Rotary Club of Seattle. How did this come about and what support do you get from the Rotary Club of Seattle?
Felix: The Malaria Free Uganda Campaign, was started in 2013, whose Vision is to restore the hope and dignity found to those devastated by war, poverty or disease. And a mission to challenge despair, love boldly, and help African people create a future of sustainable prosperity and health.
Every September, over 20 Rotarians from Seattle and well-wisher come in Uganda and carryout a Medical Camp in about 5 separate rural areas which are being heavily affected by Malaria.
I know you have just become President of your Club for 2015 – 2016. Can you tell us what hopes and aspirations you have for your Year?
Felix: The years I have known rotary, I see it as great organization because of two fantastic forces, Individualism and community. When you look at a place where there has been a natural disaster, major community project or a mega fund-raising project, what you see are Rotarians and Rotaractors running towards each other, not running away. So there is any amazing fusion between individualism and community, which I don’t think there is anywhere on the earth like it.
In my year (2015-16) of service as president of the Rotaract Club of Lake Victoria, we have three major projects in line
1. Rotaract Youth Innovation in Jobs and Employment. Building Young Futures helps young people to become active participants in their local economies. One of the ways we can strength Rotary, is to build a generation which knows how to Innovate and Create in this global economy, and move from the notion of individual expert-ism to collective expertise.
2. Medical Camp Outreach. The majority of people in rural Uganda are living below the poverty line and access to proper healthcare is often limited or non-existent. Our annual medical camp outreach based in Mawoto, a small village with virtually no medical services available to the 2,000 people living there. The necessary travel to the nearest town for medical treatment is often too expensive, especially for larger families with young children.
3. Safe a Life Project – Sanitary Pads distribution. These programs include: Supplying sanitary pads to girls who are menstruating;
Constructing private ‘girls only’ latrines; Providing accurate health information and mentor ship through a female health worker. In Uganda, drop-out rates are high for rural girls. Up to 80% of girls entering primary school will never complete their primary education. Uganda has the highest teen pregnancy rate in sub-Saharan Africa with over 30% of Ugandan girls having their first baby by the time they are 18. HIV infection rates are 9 times higher in girls than boys the same age and Uganda has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, 25% of which are from unsafe abortions.
Early data show that the program has had a remarkable impact. Girls in schools with peer-educators are better informed about reproductive health and more comfortable with discussing issues around menstruation, puberty and relationships with boys. We now have 14 trained women teachers supporting 42 trained student- educators in 14 schools serving 5000 girls. Additionally, data is showing a steady increase in girls attending school since like programs began distributing sanitary pads in 2006.
John: Felix thank you for sharing your success and plans for the future and we all wish you success and I know more details can be obtained from https://www.facebook.com/groups/lakevictoria/