William Asiimwe is the founder of Real Action for Community Empowerment (RACE). He kindly sat down with our Program Director in August 2019 to tell us more about his motivation behind starting RACE and why he feels Her Health, Her Future (HHHF) is such an important project.
Can you give us an introduction to RACE, and why you started it?
In 2012 I went as a missionary to serve in Sierra Leone. There was no power for the 6 months I was stationed there and we used a generator. I saw things that would help bless the lives of people and things that people take for granted, like water, WASH facilities, schools... that touched my heart. By the time I was about to finish my mission trip, I had a statement that I had written down, and that slogan was: “Be a voice to connect, empower and restore communities.” If I had the means it is what I wanted to do.
When I got back home that is when I started if I wanted something to be implemented I have to start. So I called some friends and gave them my idea and told them what I needed. We started with a group of 15, then called for another meeting and it was 7, and when I called the last meeting only 4 people appeared. So, I said, let’s start the work. We registered in 2015 and started operating in small places.
RACE was registered in 2015 and started with small donations from individuals - “so and so if you can add something we can combine it and give it out to communities”
If you start something today … eventually, it will go beyond this country to where the challenge is mostly.
Can you tell us about Her Health Her Future and TEL?
We started a relationship with TEL to create the Her Health Her Future (HHHF) project- bringing sex education clubs into highschools in Jinja district. In March 2019, we launched the clubs with the goal of being interactive, reducing period stigma, understand menstruation, sexual education, and to look at life skills. We meet once a week on Fridays and ask for student feedback each week.
Part of the HHHF Partnership we had reusable sanitary pad training with days for girls. From this we created Daily Della to employ single mothers and make reusable sanitary pads, soap, bags, and backpacks. Daily Della is very special to us, as Della is the Ghanaian word for savior, meaning Daily Savior. Daily Della is an enterprise in hand with RACE to create a supply of reusable sanitary pads and include them in the HHHF clubs
What would else would you like people to know?
As we are carrying out these surveys [evaluating our program], there are so many things we encounter. The most things we encounter are requests. “If you do x you will make this community much better.” The needs of the community may be more than what we are doing now, and If we can think beyond (today) we want to think about Energy and scaling up the sex education clubs in schools. The first lady of the country (Uganda) is emphasizing more and more sex education to help girls stay in school…. There are only a few clubs in government schools but they are not active.
We spoke with a (government school) and asked them if they had a sex education club, he said yes. So I asked a follow-up question, how often do you guys meet? He responded - oh no, that is just there for formality. This is why we really need to scale this club.
To learn more about the work William and RACE are doing through the Her Health Her Future project check out the full project page.