Transformation in action

By Moureen Wagubi Institute for Social Transformation,
Uganda, 2018-19 Diploma course

I am Moureen Wagubi, a development worker and the Monitoring and Evaluation officer for the Institute for Social Transformation (IST), an organisation born out and using the same approach as Training for Transformation in South Africa.

When we were at TFT, we had to go on a silent retreat and reflect on our lives, thinking about what we want the most. I had to ask myself what I really enjoy in life and how I can use what I like to do to bring change in the community. Before TFT this exercise would have led me to have ideas then say that things were impossible before I had even tried them, but now I have the courage to give my ideas a chance. I see myself and the world around me differently.

The way I look at life, the way I look at people, my ideas of how to love the poor and how to get people together to work as a community have all changed. Sometimes we serve communities but there is no love in it, it is just a job. But how do you fall in love with what you’re doing and how do you get people on board? These are some of the questions I had to look at. My perspective was not the only thing that changed. I greatly improved on my public speaking and facilitation skills. This helps the office because now we can balance the responsibility of facilitation a bit better. It also feels good when people come after trainings and give positive feedback. They tend to ask for further conversations and wanting to discuss more. It is also good when you see the change in people you have been working with.

Uganda has a high unemployment rate and I have started a few initiatives to make the difference I can. After I attended the TFT first in-residence phase, I acquired some land and started green banana farming which provides an income for the people working on the land. I also started two new companies: M’s Kitchen which does catering and Wagubi Apparels – a tailoring company that does designs and makes clothes. This is more of a social enterprise because I plan to use the money to open up a tailoring school. Some parents have asked for this because they would like their children to have more skills beyond the academics that they are offered in school. For now I am happy that the people I have employed are using the money they are earning to pay for school fees, buying food, paying medical bills, paying rent and saving some.

I find myself constantly telling people about TFT and many have even become interested in doing the course. When I went back in July 2019, I had a meeting with the headmaster of the primary school my daughter attends. We were talking and I was trying to share about TFT and they were really interested. They wanted me to give them a brief session on how they can improve working along with the children, not to box them. They wanted to know how to move from the “banking method” (that assumes children cannot think for themselves) and to ignite their thinking and questioning. I had a session with them. They changed the sitting arrangements in the classrooms. They have started to have debates for all classes, allowing kids to question and they incorporate teambuilding activities and creativity classes in their curriculum.

The organisation already reflects the values of TFT but when I went back I trained the staff on prioritising their tasks with the ‘Time Management Matrix’ from Eisenhower. This has taught people to de-clutter their offices and e-mails and to prioritize planning. It enables us to balance time between work and personal life commitments.

TFT emphasizes the importance of working together. At IST we are always talking about togetherness, pulling resources together and encouraging women to form savings groups and cooperatives. I have been part of those women who have joined a savings groups. We are a group of 50 people who have saved about 100 000 Ugandan Shillings per month. We are trying to pull resources together and see how we can get ourselves out of poverty. Members can borrow it at a low interest rate. Women are buying land and those with land are trying to start building houses-so it is really playing a big role.

On our savings group, we don’t only focus on money but we also talk about different things that affect women like gender-based violence, professionalism, values, raising families etc. Moreover, we are trying to increase access to finance. Most women have been unable to access funds from banks due to lack of collaterals. In addition, we have improved networking and collaborations, boosting the spirit of sisterhood. The women now have bigger visions for themselves and have drawn plans on how they are going to achieve them. I thank the TFT team for not empowering us, because we already had the power, but for getting us on the journey of self-discovery. We are applying the knowledge. I am really grateful because I’m a changed Moureen, I am really happy with everything I’m doing. The TFT methodologies are all around me and I apply them on a daily basis.