Health Economics and Promotion alumna Iryne Marunga Banoba combines research and social action in Uganda
Name: Iryne Marunga Banoba
Degree: Master's in Public Health - Health Economics & Health Promotion
Graduation year: 2011
Tell us your story!
KI was recommended to me by Dr. Milton Mutto, who was then a PhD student at KI. The university offered courses that were of interest to me. In 2008, I applied to study a MPH in Safety Promotion. However, I missed my admission due to financial issues. In 2009, I applied again for MPH Health Economics and Health Promotion and, as luck would have it, I was admitted the second time. I still remember the moment I opened the email at an internet cafe....I believe I was destined to be at KI.
I went back to my home country of Uganda. I joined a friend in a consultancy firm where we got work with World Vision Rwanda for one year. Then I supervised some research projects in Uganda for one year which was spearheaded by Dr. Stephen Lawoko, who was also my former supervisor for my Master's thesis at KI. In 2016, I joined the team at Save Street Children Uganda, a non-governmental organization thatI helped to found.
As Head of Programs, I was in charge of the daily running of the organization. At Save Street Children Uganda, we rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated/resettled children living on the streets. We provided the children with education and vocational training skills, empowered the families where these children came from, advocated for children’s rights and protection among other.
As part of my role, I supervised research projects and university students studying Public Health who carried out their field activities with the organization.. For example, I was developing a biometrics information system to track children living on the streets in Uganda. Together with my team, I also supervised interns and volunteers form different parts of the world. In addition, I was engaged in writing grant proposals and fundraising for our organization.
I was also organizing a two day event in Fort Portal Municipality in Uganda. The event was aimed at creating awareness on gender equality. Together with office of the mayor in Fort Portal, we hosted a radio talk show in order to spread our message at the grass-roots level.
We hosted leaders from different sectors, cultural, religious, political, youth leaders, educationists, women group representatives, and police (child and family protection unit). We had presenters from different sectors including the Swedish Embassy, Ministry of Gender, the Deputy Mayor (female), and Swedish Institute Alumni among others. We discussed different topics including attitudes, gender mainstreaming, the role of men in gender equality. We had a panel discussion on the issues and action points.
The work/life balance with family has been quite challenging. However, I have managed to pull through with support from family and friends.
I have a strong family network who have always supported me, from my husband, to my in-laws, my parents and siblings and especially my children. They have always covered the gap. Above all they believe in me. The team I work with is very supportive and understanding.
What is your advice to students
The world is full of endless opportunities, be open minded and ready to work in different situations/environments.
If you can’t find a job immediately, find an organization and volunteer. Build lasting relationships and above all - be a job creator not a job seeker.