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My Harvest Institute story

A phenomenal woman of God….. Keep shinning 🔆

Rachel B7s blog

I was asked recently what three words describe my Harvest Institute journey and what comes to mind are these three words; worthwhile, enlightening and stretching.

Despite being averse to adult education at the time and having managed to stay it off, I decided in January 2017 to join the pioneer class at Harvest Institute. I love to be part of start up initiatives and this was one of them. I started out excited, hopeful, ignorant of what it would take, expectant to learn and become a better leader and all my expectations have been met above and beyond.

I must say I have grown through the year. I lead myself and those under my care better and I am continually learning to stand up and take responsibility of the area of influence God has called me to.

At the first class we were all excited. We were taught the 5…

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Spiritual Capital the road to financial freedom.

Recently I have been thinking about this word  spiritual capital and it brought various thoughts to my mind, which I would like to share with you. These thoughts started when I was invited to teach a group of people working in the horticultural industry they were all working on flower farms in different capacities. My training was on financial literacy and as I thought of where to start I felt the best place would be to highlight to them the five capitals as these capitals work together to develop a person and get them on a journey to financial freedom.

When you hear the word capital what comes to mind usually money and it is investable to produce results.

Definition from business dictionary.com

Capital is: Wealth in the form of money or assets, taken as a sign of the financial strength of an individual, organization, or nation, and assumed…

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Help children forge strong family ties by Eunice Musiime

Thanksgiving_Family_original_19870

Do you remember those long holidays when you would be dropped off at a relatives’ place to bond with your cousins? Or when you would spend Sunday afternoon at another relatives place playing outside while the parents sat and talked for hours. Why is it gone today? Yet families are crucial in the development of human competence and character. Recent research tells that the family’s influence is even greater than we have imagined. Families play a major role in how well children do in school, how well they perform on the job as adults and how well they contribute to society in general.

In days past, extended families played a big part in providing a close knit web of support. Extended-family members often lived under one roof or in the same compound, or just down the road. Children saw their relatives often enough to know who was who, were able to build strong relationships and act as pillars of support in times of crisis.

Today, this is frequently not the case. Children may have to drive or even fly before they meet some of the extended family members. Geographical isolation is far more common among upper-middle- class families, who move for occupational opportunity, than it is among middle- and lower-class families, who tend to move to cities where they already have relatives.

But even when extended family members are relatively close by, there is no escaping the fact that families do live more privately than they once did. In some cases, extended families still give each other assistance with health care, and other tasks. More often, though, each branch of the family retains its basic independence. There are some advantages and disadvantages that arise from this new face of the extended family.

The result of this separation of the extended family has created a whole generation who don’t know “who they are.”When you grow up under the family tree, there is little doubt of who you are. If you have a fine voice for singing, you will know who you inherited from; you could have listened to grandmother singing lullabies. If you are a great artistic, probably you picked it from your uncle who was also a great artistic.

Essentially, with fewer significant adults in their lives, children become more emotionally dependent on their parents. Don’t expect your child to consider a seldom-seen relative important. Unless you find a way to open up your family’s network, your children will probably be isolated from the extended family.

In 2017, as a family we began to hold regular family get-togethers to reestablish a more integrated sense of family. Other families in Uganda have started investment clubs that have grown leaps and bounds providing both economic and social benefits. Such spaces are important for helping our children forge strong family ties.

Beyond the blood relations, we also need to help our children grow other social networks. Children also benefit immensely from belonging to other communities or sporting networks. In the religious setting, many churches have started small group meetings that help the members to do life together. This comes in handy where the extended family is far away or nonexistent. Such networks can become really powerful especially if the children come together to embrace their strengths; develop collective plans and strategies that are impossible to attain without leveraging a shared sense of vision and values and strengths.

So whether you decide on regular family re-unions or strengthening your child’s school and community networks, building strong family bonds has to be intentional. Some day our grandchildren will thank us for building a strong family.

 

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Teach Boys Positive Masculinity by Eunice Musiime

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 As a mother of two boys and one girl, I was fascinated to learn about strength-based approaches to psychology such as Positive Masculinity and wondered what I could learn from such a model that would be useful in my parenting role. In recent years, there is been growing focus on applying strength based approaches to resolving disorder, distress and disease.

An article by Mark Kiselica at the College of New Jersey and his colleague Matt Englar-Carlson at California State University – Fullerton, suggests a far more effective way of building the Positive Masculinity Model – a framework which accentuates the positive aspects of male development. The goal, they say, is to help men and boys learn and embrace healthy and constructive aspects of masculinity.

Parents, educators and society at large are yet to fully embrace the concept of positive masculinity as a critical 21st century skill for men and boys. Take for example, we teach young boys to hide their emotions in times when it would be acceptable to express what they are feeling. Phrases such as big boys don’t cry are often amplified to suppress their emotions lest they come off as weak.  Consequently men and boys are raised not to show any emotions and when the lid is off, what has been suppressed erupts often negatively.

The critical function of role models in developing positive masculinity needs to be underscored. In a research by Roberts –Douglas, K and Curtis-Boles done in 2013, exploring  positive masculinity development in African American men, it was found that positive male models, in particular fathers and grandfathers, play the largest role in building  healthy and adaptive masculine identities in contrast to one’s peers and media.

We also need to de-emphasize labor division in the home stereotypes such as that only women can nurture children while boys are incapable of looking after children. That already sets in motion unequal power relations in the home and later in the public sphere. There is no women’s work. There is no man’s work. There is work and men and women are a team. It is important to promote the fact that every member is valuable. This will show that anyone can do anything and there are no roles for only men or women.

While there is no silver bullet as to how to raise boys to respect women and promote a fairer world, we trust that by developing the positive aspects of masculinity, we shall instill the value of gender equality right from birth and better equip men to operate in a world where women are increasingly and rightfully in positions of power and authority. We can all be part of creating a more equal world by planting seeds right now.

 

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Personal Growth must be Intentional

Maxwell

When I started my current job as the Executive Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) in September 2015, on one hand, I was extremely excited to have an opportunity to advance the rights of women and girls, but on the other, I had this crippling fear that I could run the organization to the dumps, given that it was my first time to be at the helm of an organization.

For starters, I would double check my ideas, plans and decisions and in the end either delay or fail to execute some critical tasks. It equally took me a bit of time to connect with the small team that I found in AMwA, some very loyal and capable leaders. I dedicated little time to energising the team and providing the right environment for the team to flourish. I did have moments where I questioned whether the board, had actually hired the right person for the job.

My experience is not unique, many leaders have testified to the challenges they faced when called to lead in different spheres with pint-sized or no on job training and little time to demonstrate results. Personally, my saving grace was the leadership development institute that AMwA holds to enhance African women’s leadership skills and capacities to effectively engage in decision-making processes. AMwA’s leadership development is through her flagship programme the “African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) that begun in 1997.”Being part of AMwA’s leadership development programmes provided me with an opportunity to become intentional about my growth as a leader. It also spurred me on to seek other leadership development opportunities that have provided me with invaluable lessons.

The AWLI that AMwA has run for the last 20 years is celebrated for having transformed the individual and collective capabilities of over 4,000 women who have contributed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment at national, regional and international level. From reading herstories and interacting with AMwA’s alumni, I am persuaded that leadership development is one of the critical pathways to sustainable development.

Equally, since I joined AMwA, I have witnessed first-hand the 360 degree transformation that takes place during the onsite training and post training interventions. There is no doubt that the women unlearn to learn to relearn. Clearly, their previously held beliefs are challenged, their critical thought processes are triggered and their passion for social justice is ignited.

While AMwA’s leadership development targets young women, one of the setbacks is that the level of uptake is slow, given the years that one has spent learning certain beliefs, practices and norms, that unlearning becomes a life long journey. For most people our idea of a leader is someone who is at the top and commands people below. Deconstructing deeply ingrained leadership models, requires concerted efforts by several actors. Any time an attempt is made to diagnose Africa’s numerous problems, the first issues most commentators usually raise are bad governance and corrupt African dictators. In most cases no attempt is made to trace the root causes of the so-called “bad governance” in Africa.

In John Maxwells’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, he states that for one to reach their full potential, they must grow, but in order to grow, one must become intentional about their growth. The growth I have experienced in the last two years as a result of submitting myself to different learning opportunities is what sparked my desire to write a book that focuses on equipping the next generation of leaders with critical leadership skills that would transform the African continent. My major premise is that if leadership development was part and parcel of our formative journey, it would complement other ongoing initiatives to scale up a movement of transformative leaders on the continent. That takes me to the often asked question, are leaders born or made?

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Raising responsible children

Boys washing plates

 

I decided to get two dogs mainly for security reasons but with an added objective to get the boys to exercise some responsibility. First, we had to jointly discuss and agree what would be the right dog to get. Through some research, we discovered that breeds of a medium size are probably best for families with children, as evidenced by the overwhelming perennial popularity of such breeds as the German shepherd.

Hence, DJ and Taffi as named by the children are now members of our small but growing family. DJ wears a beautiful black and tan coat while Taffi is wears a white coat. It is also important to get children to look after something else, other than themselves such as a pet. The benefits of interaction between children and animals go beyond the physical, as well. Pets also fulfill many psychological needs. As parents, we should not overlook the fact that young children can derive benefit from the mundane daily actions we often take for granted. Small tasks associated with looking after a pet or house cleaning can be monumental. They allow children to gain a greater understanding of their environment through simple experiences.

A key aspect regarding raising happy and responsible children is helping children to make decisions on matters that concern them. Learning to be a decision maker is a lifelong skill that, according to Bellevue College parenting coach Jennifer Watanabe, can’t begin too early. “We are presented with choices every part of every day,” says Watanabe. “Am I going to get up now or in five minutes? Should I have breakfast or work out?”

Our primary role as parents is to ensure that we are raising responsible children that we hope will thrive in the future and withstand the pressures of life. While our parents’ generation of the 1980s and 1990s generally ensured that children were responsible for most of the house hold chores as a way to instill responsibility, with technology and other amenities, there are some aspects to reconsider for 21st century parenting.

The extent, to which we provide age appropriate chores, also plays a big role in grooming responsible children. For example teaching our children h0w to prepare simple meals is a good start. Linda a mom of four enrolled her sons in a cooking class that teaches children to prepare their own meals. Her sons now are able to make a wide range of sandwiches, smoothies and eggs.

Finally the key to teaching responsibility to our children is modelling conscientious behaviour ourselves. It is hard to teach our children to lay their beds, when as parents we are not laying our own beds or asking them to take up chores, when they have never seen us do some work around the house. It’s the old case of “do what I say, not what I do” – that just doesn’t cut it. Our children learn through watching, not listening. If you are dedicated to working on improving your own habits and your children just might follow.

You do not have to wait until a child is in his or her teenage years to start introducing them to responsibility. This should be done right away from birth in small doses and continuously increase with age.

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Raise socially conscious children by Eunice Musiime

Socially

My children and I usually watch the 7pm news to catch up with the happenings as part of keeping up with national developments. This often generates animated discussions on the news items. In fact, I am always amazed at the questions and comments that some of the news items illicit from the children. Clearly children are able to distinguish what is good from evil albeit require parental support to process.

My friend’s daughter and son climbed mountain Muhavura to raise funds for Grace Villa, a home for orphans and vulnerable girls in Kabale District. Asante and Leo, 10 and 16 years respectively, are clearly socially aware of the inequalities that exist in society and the need to work towards a fairer world.  The two have become seasoned activists who regularly raise funds money for projects such as rebuilding their church among other charity work. Such occasions are critical to ingrain deep values in our children that shape their worldview.

Children can be become socially conscious from either their parents or those they regularly interact with or the events happening around them. They might witness either their parents or others standing tall in times of infringements on the rights of others and will follow that example.  Such exposure often stays with them and might spur them to action when someone needs to stand up for a wrong being committed.

A story is told of the writer and activist Grace Paley, who had a lot to say about war, race and women, among other things. In her essay, “Traveling,” she first described her mother and her older sister traveling on a bus from New York to Virginia in 1927. It was an express bus, and so it stopped only in Philadelphia and Wilmington before it picked up passengers in Washington, D.C. At that stop, the black people who had boarded in New York or Philadelphia “rose from their seats, put their bags and boxes together, and moved to the back of the bus.”

Paley’s mother and sister, confronted for the first time with the practice of enforced racism, remained in their seats, which were near the back of the bus. When the bus driver sighed and told her that whites had to move to the front of the bus, Paley’s mother said, quite simply “No” He asked her again. Again, she said, “No”. For the third time, he told her she had to get out of her seat, and while Paley’s sister trembled, her mother said, calmly and without expression, “No.”

Fifteen years later, 20-year-old Grace Paley was on a bus from New York to Miami Beach, where her husband was training to go off to war. Miles and miles, she rode, and somewhere in the South – she did not remember exactly where – a black woman carrying a sleeping baby boarded the crowded bus. Paley was in the last “white row,” and offered the mother her seat. “She looked to the right and left as well as she could,” wrote Paley. “Softly, she said, ‘Oh no.’ I became fully awake.” Paley then offered to hold her sleeping son.

SociallyWhile formal education and extracurricular instruction matter a great deal, it also matters that we raise our children socially aware. The best way to do this is to model a life of compassion and engagement. This takes time and effort, but the good news is that everyone, including the parent, benefits. Standing tall for something bigger than ourselves breeds an expectation that we will serve, and girds the spine for whatever life brings us.