International Women’s Day is just around the corner. So we’re shining a light on women who inspire us every day. Because, we’re all for women and we know that when we stand for equality, the whole world wins.
Clare Najjemba has been an integral part of the Cotton On Foundation team in Uganda for over six years. Beginning her Cotton On Foundation journey as the Mannya Social Worker, Clare is now the Head of Student Wellbeing, based out of our Masaka office. Clare balances her career with being a mum and her passion for writing, and is an inspiration to us all!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR HIGHLIGHT WITH COTTON ON FOUNDATION SO FAR?
I have many highlights but getting the role I have now was a big one for me, I didn’t see it coming and it relates to what I love doing every single day.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT COTTON ON FOUNDATION?
As Head of Student Wellbeing in Uganda, I am responsible for ensuring that all students in Cotton On Foundation supported schools feel safe and supported and are getting the most from their educational journey. I am focused on promoting harmonious communities, where children’s health and general wellbeing is catered for and ensuring that students learn the necessary life skills to support them on whatever path they choose.
My day can include planning on how to support the students in school and at home, visiting the schools to ensure they implement the good schools/violence free concept as guided, working on the water, sanitation and hygiene of the entire school but also organising empowering talks and programs for the students.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR ROLE?
Connecting with different kinds of people (children, teachers, parents), I learn new things from them every day, its humbling. Children calling me aunt, mummy when we have no blood relationship whatsoever.
WHAT DOES CHANGING LIVES MEAN TO YOU?
It is so fulfilling to know that someone else is happy, getting an education, getting health care because of your support. Working with the Cotton On Foundation has exposed me to seeing children evolve from being out of school to joining school and finishing various levels, some are now joining university.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN STUDENTS SINCE 2012?
They are more confident, love for education has greatly increased and are great communicators – they have the confidence to speak out in bi-linguae (Lugandan and English) the standard of education has improved including the access to school uniforms and footwear.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR GIRLS IN UGANDA TO RECEIVE A QUALITY EDUCATION? WHY?
When girls get an education, they will acquire the knowledge they need to speak up, they will be able to say no until it is right to say yes, they will no longer be coerced into doing things they don’t want, education will show them the opportunities that lay ahead of them.
It is high time that society realises that we are all equal despite of gender, that girls can think and work as well as boys, that girls have a lot to contribute to a better society.
AS A WOMAN GROWING UP WHAT WAS ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
Growing up, I never had the opportunity to get menstrual health education and for my first period. We were also never free to talk about girl issues in general with the elders, but we taught each other as children at school by ourselves.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR CAREER WITH BEING A MUM?
I balance my time well to suit both work and parental duties. Since we both spend the day away from home, him at school and me at work, I make sure to use the morning and evening hours for us. I wake up early and I prepare him for school and wish him a good day. Every evening, we do the homework together, watch his cartoons together and even argue. We always have the weekend to ourselves so it all works well.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
If I am not watching a movie or writing, I am spending time with my son doing whatever he wants us to do.
FAVOURITE DANCE MOVE?
Twerking, I’m not perfect at it but I love it.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I have a number of things I want but getting my own family tops the list.
IT’S 10AM ON A SATURDAY, WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY DOING?
Cleaning the house thoroughly.
FAVOURITE COUNTRY TRAVELLED TO SO FAR?
I have been to Ghana and Kenya but not my favourites yet.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE?
“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them” – Chris Grosser.