Brian Kirya is the founder of a non-government organization called Poverty Eradication Mission Uganda (PEM-Uganda) that aims at addressing poverty issues in eastern Uganda. He shares his passion with Sarah Karungi.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a very visionary young man who is always motivated by my own dreams. Always looking forward to being part of the history that will be read to the coming generations as one of them who contributed to the development of my own country.
How did you develop the love to work for women and children?
I have grown up seeing women fighting for other women so finding a young man like me with this passion makes it a unique case. It’s basically my background that greatly gave me this desire.
Having been raised by my grandmother from the age of three made me develop a strong attachment to women. I came to realize that every woman has potential that can only be exploited if given an opportunity. That’s why at PEM-Uganda we always look at providing such an opportunity to women and girls to have their potentials fully exploited.
What exactly do you do?
Our focus is geared towards economic empowerment, reproductive health and gender empowerment for the girl child and women in the districts of Mayuge, Iganga, Kaliro, Namutumba and Kamuli.
We work mainly on women and girl rights, sexual reproductive health, human resource development mainly in vocational skill development in girls and women and economic development through agriculture.
How many people have you touched and how?
Seriously am not sure if I can tell you the exact number of the lives we have impacted, but am pretty sure the number is impressing and we are still counting.
We have seen many gender based violence cases solved in Mayuge with help of police, organized 6 medical camps around Mayuge and Kamuli, lobbied for a medical ambulance for Mayuge through the partnership of our donors and our Patron Hon Mukoda Julie Zabwe.
We have started up 14 women saving schemes, we have trained a number of young girls in vocational skills, we hold daily sexual reproductive meetings in schools, supplied over 20,000 reusable sanitary pads and much more. We are currently working with Girl Talk Foundation to produce a Girl Talk Newsletter addressing girl related issues.
As a child what did you aspire to become?
As I was growing up I always wanted to become an architect being inspired by my uncle Waix Fred though along the way my desire for charity became stronger hence becoming what I am today.
What has the PEM-Uganda journey been like?
I got a desire to start helping vulnerable women and girls when I joined Makerere University. I was sponsored by the government for all the 3 years at Makerere University Kampala, this sponsorship came with an allowance, which I always used to travel to the Villages of Mayuge district to sensitize the women and girls on their rights and also encourage them to stand for their rights.
Towards my second year at campus I was joined by two of my friends Eramwe Sam and Hilda Mubugumwa who started working with me. I always solicited for funds from fellow students which I used to buy scholastic materials for girls in Mayuge.
It’s out of this simple desire that gave birth to PEMU in 2014 on a core goal of empowering women and girls affected by poverty. PEMU was later registered as a non-government organization currently having its head offices in Magamaga Town Council.
Who do you owe your success to?
My success is firstly owed to God then my family spear headed by my grandmother Janet Ekibina that choose to believe in me. Last but not least, Hon Julie Mukoda Zabwe who is currently the patron to PEM-Uganda, she has been very fundamental in the success of me as an individual and the entire organization of PEM-Uganda.
What challenges have you faced?
Like any other institution, being a young NGO we are always constrained by little finances which make the implementation of our programs a bit trying but we have been able to put up with self income generating projects to help us out.
We also face the challenge of misconception from political leaders who usually look at our activities as political threats.
What is your advice to the youth out there?
One is that they should believe in themselves and pursue their dreams when they seem impossible. Learn to seize opportunity and above all let them know that the choices we make today will reflect in our tomorrow.