Mrs. Babirye M. Yudaya Kigenyi, and her husband Mr. Benon Moses Kigenyi both founder members of Harambee Youth MHA have a long history of youth humanitarian and social support activities spanning from their youthful years at Makerere University Kampala, Uganda.
Yudaya was the first female student leader of a cultural oriented organization, the Makerere University Abasoga Nseete students association (students from Busoga Kingdom in eastern Uganda), while Benon as student representative, served on two high-level University management boards at the University which included; the commercial Unit Board and Establishment and Administration Board respectively.
Using her position, Yudaya mobilized fellow Abasoga Nseete students and they pulled together resources to put a Zebra Crossing at the lower eastern gate of the University, she also used her leadership to inspire many Basoga and other students to join positions of leadership which gave birth to one of the most outstanding guild presidents the university has ever had, Hon Asuman Basalirwa, the current member of parliament for Bugiri municipality.
Benon, a current holder of a master’s degree in Public sector management, on the other hand was very instrumental as a student mobiliser and strategist for many university initiatives and activities including organizing a very successful International Youth conference in 1998 as the secretary general.
In 2003 the two got married after university, and Benon would later join public service where to date has climbed to top ladders as a senior public officer working as Undersecretary ministry of Gender, Labor and Social development (MoGLSD) of the Government of Uganda. His wife Yudaya is the Minister in charge of Kyabazinga (King’s) Affairs to the king (Kyabazinga) of Busoga Kingdom in eastern Uganda earning her the title of ‘Owekitiibwa’ (honorable). Commonly known as the King of the Nile because the longest river in the world starts its journey from Jinja in his kingdom of about 4 million people, Hon Yudaya is charged with the huge responsibility of taking care of this popular king’s office and palaces, official programs, protocol and welfare plus the royal family.
Inspired by her own challenging but successful story of overcoming all hurdles such as being from a poor rural family, being cared for by a single mum (father was in prison), being a girl BUT managing to get tuition, avoiding temptations and finishing school with a degree in Biochemistry, a post graduate certificate in Strategic management among others and a getting a descent job with the best hospital in Kampala, the International Hospital Kampala, Yudaya was very interested in encouraging young girls and boys with similar challenges. She turned herself into some sort of a Senga (counselor) to anyone who crossed her path and cared to listen. She was encouraged by the positive feedback and better focus and outcomes of those she counseled.
Through the Abasoga Nseete association where she was given a title of chief elder, she would then organize student and community talks with the purpose of inspiring young people to focus and lecturing them to getting soft skills that help to overcome challenges that hinder success. The results were overwhelming and the gap was glaring, she could no longer do it alone!
From the start, thanks to her ever supportive husband, the couple decided that out of their savings, they would allocate some money to support vulnerable youths within their immediate family and the communities both in Kampala and in Busoga and as well continue to support many underprivileged university and community youths through counseling and giving advice. Apart from paying school fees for orphans, siblings, relatives and others, the coupled agreed to pull together their savings and minds on three major gaps they had identified. These included, 1). Mindset change- changing the way of thinking or looking at things among young people (self belief) and this would be coupled with promotion of health living and environment protection, 2). Provision of life skills training to sharpen their resolve and practical skills that together make a holistic confident, self-driven youth or person and 3). Entrepreneurship through training coupled with business skills to earn income rather than depending only on public jobs acquisition and government handouts.
Although it hasn’t been easy, every time a youth would present a problem, the couple would often say, to themselves this is “A Harambee” Swahili word for “All pull Together, its safe” for which the connotation for naming the organization Harambee Youth Mentorship and Health Advocacy was derived.
In 2014, the need for these talks and seminars had grown with over 1000 beneficiaries in Universities and communities in Kampala and Busoga region. Yudaya would then rely on close associates to help tell their stories and inspire the students and Ghetto (slum) youths. She is particularly grateful to her awesome, generous and supportive husband for his guidance and sound counsel that helped in the development of HAYMHA. Teams of other supportive people like, her childhood mentor Mr. Aziz Buwedewo a diplomat with Uganda foreign affairs ministry for the encouragement and guidance, plus giving time to the youth cause.
Also important to mention are the key pioneer volunteers and sponsors such as Mr. Kalema Paul, Ms Irene Kawala, Ms. Bayat Mpabulungi, Eng Muwuluke, Ms. Philis Namuwoya, Ass Prof. Waiswa Peter, Mr. Wunyi Aggrey, Mr. Hannington Isabirye and Mr. Afraitane . Some earlier beneficiaries of the talks such as Eng. Derrick Mbenyi, Mr. Kaliro Alex, Mr.Kyebagadha Binasali and many others would become the drivers of the organization and have remained very instrumental for the growth this far.
Through his Kigenyi Family Foundation Ltd, he has committed nearly USD 30,000 to the philanthropy and the organization. Through Quality clean Ltd Kampala’ a top brand cleaning company Mrs. Babirye Yudaya Kigenyi has contributed over USD 25,000.
Ben and Yudaya as commonly called have a Vision to contribute to the development of Africa and beyond through Harambee Youth Mentorship and Healthy Advocacy by together with you, developing it into one of the World’s leading youth social development organization that provides evidence based interventions, positive impact transformation of young people and creating a world of shared prosperity, and living well together through sustainable development.