Meet Victoria Namusisi, the Remarkable Woman Providing Shelter for Hundreds of Kids From Disadvantaged Backgrounds in UgandaApr 24, 2023 10:00AM ● By Kufre N.
Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby humans practice humane treatment and aid other humans to reduce suffering and improve the conditions of humanity for moral, altruistic, and emotional reasons.
One woman shining in this field is Victoria Nalongo Namusisi. A Ugandan philanthropist who won the 2023 African Humanitarian Award recently.
She is a trained journalist and the founder and director of organizations such as Bright Kids Uganda (which provides shelter for street kids), Blessed Survivors Organization (which helps survivors of acid attacks), and Noah’s Ark (a home school for kids with disabilities).
She is passionate about seeing a safe and prosperous future for Africans through her work in providing shelter for homeless children, rehabilitation, and educational support.
In an exclusive interview with FunTimes, Namusisi discusses the origin and passion behind her impactful philanthropy.
Tell us what first inspired you to be a journalist?
My inspiration was mainly first and foremost from that young lady then called Rebecca Katumba, who was a brilliant journalist covering politics and parliament and the way she carried herself with confidence in the midst of so many men. Then, I began to bury my earlier thought of joining the prisons services as an officer and an athlete (of which I was a lower level).
I was always bitter that football and boxing got a lion’s share when it came to publicity in newspapers, radio, and TV. That’s where I made my final decision to go to the Institute of Public Administration in Kampala to study Journalism under some of the best media personnel my country has ever produced.
Before joining, I was attached to Voice of Uganda Newspaper which was then a government newspaper. I asked to be put onto the Sports Desk as I was already sending them news items from our weekend athletics events while I was still in Secondary school as a freelancer. The ‘byline’ was something unheard of as a freelancer then. So, at 19yrs old, I appeared at the football stadium for the first time and sat on the media bench with all the young and old sports journalists. I never felt intimidated, and my story took off from there.
How does it feel to be the first Ugandan sports journalist? And what do you hope for the future of journalism in Africa?
At the time when I started covering football, I never knew that I was the first woman to do so until another paper carried a story about me. That’s when I knew that I had actually made history in independent Uganda, from being a simple fisherman’s daughter to the first woman sports journalist in my country!
I can’t tell right now where the future of journalism lies. For sure the women have invaded the profession and may one day overrun the men! However, journalism as a profession is somehow dying due to a number of reasons; such as state censorship of news or journalist writing what they think those who fund them would like to read or hear about.
What are the top five qualities you would say make a great journalist?
Things such as being smart upstairs is number one for any journalist. As well as constantly yearning for knowledge in all spheres of life because as a journalist, you are expected to be “a jack of all trades but a master of none.”
In brief, you must be knowledgeable in basically everything because you never know where your editor will send you tomorrow. I would also add that always do your best to protect your sources of big sensitive stories otherwise, you will have no scoops the following day.
What inspired you to start an orphanage in Uganda?
My motivation towards starting an orphanage was and is still based on the fact that I was born into a poor fisherman’s family. We struggled to get textbooks. I walked miles to school while in my early years barefooted and only put on shoes on Sunday.
I always got two new dresses shortly before Christmas, and that was it. Any additional clothes would come as a surprise. I simply read my books and did homework using the small lamps filled with a lot of smoke in the room. Yet, throughout my primary school years, if I was not getting first place, I would come in second. I have always been a high achiever.
Some female senior students onetime tried to undress me, saying I was using witchcraft because I was always getting first place after borrowing their textbooks because I could not afford mine.
Due to my poor background, I knew there were so many kids out there like me who were very smart upstairs, but coming from poor families limited their capabilities. I started helping kids way back in the late 80 and early 90s, even before I started the orphanage. I can’t even count how many kids have passed through my hands right now and went ahead to make it in life. I understood their plight better because I have been there. Sharing my stories with them has always motivated them since I started the orphanage 23 years ago.
What are the qualities of a good philanthropist?
You cannot be generous when you have nothing to give out. Sometimes I want to take on more kids or help an albino or disabled kid when I see them; however, I get limited by the lack of funds. What can you do when you have no funds? One thing I have learned, though, is that even when I have almost nothing and give away the little I have, God surprises me with even bigger things.
The Bible talks of a giving heart and how God rewards it. Never just focus on your family when God blesses you with plenty. Always think of those less fortunate than you are.
What or who inspires you these days? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?
I was inspired by Mama Theresa, Princess Diana, and these days Prince Harry and how he has continuously gone out of his luxurious Royal family life to what he does in Lesotho, Botswana, and South Africa. I want to see a world where all kids are able to access free education, health care, and feeding.
A world where some kids don’t feel inferior to others in class because they have no shoes, school bags, decent clothing, and all that. I want to see a world where our children are no longer dying of treatable diseases. A world where countries can determine what they want for their young people and not just the rich reap the benefits.
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