KAMPALA - CIU alumnus has been recognised for exceptionally working towards improving and transforming the lives of people living with HIV in the country.
When she was first told to submit nominations for the Beckman Coulter Cares Award, Evah Namakula was a bit reluctant.
All candidates were supposed to fill an application online required to represent humanitarian values reflective of sustainable work over a period of time. Also, individuals who are considered within their communities as people who have made a difference helping people were eligible.
Namakula said her friend encouraged her to participate, but she first declined.
“I was only surprised when I saw an email indicating that I was the best. I could not believe it. This is a continental award which attracts entries from all African countries and only one person takes it,” she said shortly after receiving the award.
Namakula, 27, was announced the Beckman Coulter Cares Award winner last month, and her award was delivered to her over the weekend at her Ignite international offices in Makerere, Kampala.
The Award is designed to recognise individuals who have shown care, dedication and commitment in their communities as part of the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The award was presented by Beckman Coulter Cares Award’s Samuel Tony Boova, also Director Alliance Development High burden HIV/AIDS Markets. The ceremony attracted youth, family members and the Makerere community.
The award is an initiative of Alliance Development High Burden HIV/AIDS Markets, targeting individuals in Africa, who work tirelessly with exceptional approaches to improve the lives of others, especially those living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities.
They look at the methods one uses and their impact on the community.
Who is Namakula?
Namakula, who is now pursuing a Master’s degree in global health at Manchester University, started her own organisation called Ignite International in 2016.
She also works as a global youth Ambassador for Reach out Integrity Africa and a participant and engagement committee chairperson of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
YALI is an initiative that was started in 2010 by President Barack Obama to empower African youth into powerful leaders.
Namakula did a certificate in biomedical laboratory at Nsambya Hospital, and a bachelor’s degree from the Clarke International University formerly International Health Sciences University (IHSU). She went to Kitebi Primary School and Ndeeba Junior School, and later joined Makindye Secondary and Lowel Girls for her secondary education.
Namakula beat candidates from over 40 countries
How she started
While at the University, Namakula started Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) with her friends. The organisation worked on several community projects through condom distribution, HIV/AIDS testing and counselling, cervical cancer screening and safe male circumcision.
She later quit to start Ignite International in 2016.
Namakula also volunteered at Nsambya Hospitals and other organisations working with people with HIV/AIDS. This helped her gain experience and exposure to start Ignite International in 2016, with a new approach.
Through her organisation, Namakula empowers people living with HIV/AIDS with vocational skills such as metal fabrication, carpentry and weaving. This is meant to help them live a better life.
“I encouraged people living with HIV/AIDS to form small groups of five to encourage each other take their medicine. Every day, one person in the group is responsible to remind everyone to take their drugs and every month to remind them to pick drugs from health centres. It has worked wonders,” Namakula said.
She also uses sports and cultural events through outreach programmes in different parts of the country to end discrimination of people with HIV in communities.
Why she won
Boova described Namakula as an exceptional candidate for the award.
“She beat candidates from over 40 countries to get shortlisted as one of the finalists. She has accomplished a lot at her age. She exceeded our expectations from what we thought,” he noted.
Boova explained that the Beckman Coulter Cares Award independent committee was impressed by Namakula’s extraordinary works in helping HIV/AIDs vulnerable communities in different rural areas of Uganda.
Catherine Namanyi, Namakula’s mother, described her daughter as a determined young lady.
“I am so grateful for my daughter’s achievement. Namakula is a go-getter; she can never rest before achieving what she wants,” Namanyi said.
By Henry Sekanjako, Jeff Andrew Lule