Health Economics and Promotion alumna Iryne Marunga Banoba combines research and social action in Uganda

Name: Iryne Marunga Banoba
Based in: Uganda
Degree: Master's in Public Health - Health Economics & Health Promotion 2011
Curremt role: Program Director​ with Save Street Children, Uganda

Alumna Iryne Marunga Banoba

How did you decide to study at KI?

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.

After you graduated from KI, what was your next step and how did you find this opportunity?

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.

Describe a day on the job in your current role.

As Head of Programs, I’m in charge of the daily running of the organization. At Save Street Children Uganda, we rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate/resettle children living on the streets. We provide the children with education and vocational training skills, empower the families where these children come from, advocate for children’s rights and protection among other.

As part of my role, I supervise research projects and university students studying Public Health who carry out their field activities with the organization.. For example, I am currently developing a biometrics information system to track children living on the streets in Uganda. Together with my team, I also supervise interns and volunteers form different parts of the world. In addition, I'm engaged in writing grant proposals and fundraising for our organization.

You were recently back in Stockholm because you were selected to attend a Swedish Institute conference on Gender Equality, with the expectation that you will organize an event in Uganda with the same theme. Can you describe more about the event?

I will be organizing a two day event in Fort Portal Municipality in Uganda. The event is aimed at creating awareness on gender equality. Together with office of the mayor in Fort Portal, we shall host a radio talk show on Thursday 17 May 2018, in order to spread our message at the grass-roots level.

On May 18th, we shall host leaders from different sectors, cultural, religious, political, youth leaders, educationists, women group representatives, and police (child and family protection unit). We have presenters from different sectors including the Swedish Embassy, Ministry of Gender, the Deputy Mayor (female), and Swedish Institute Alumni among others. We will discuss different topics including attitudes, gender mainstreaming, the role of men in gender equality. We shall have a panel discussion on the issues and action points.

Read more about Iryne's SI event on Gender Equality here >>

How do you find work/life balance with your family?

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 at KI who are about to graduate?

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.