Brian's Column: Does your organisation have a birthday?

Brian's Column: Does your organisation have a birthday?

Our regular columnist Mr Brian Bilal Mwebaze is back focusing on the recent 50 year celebrations of Uganda Red Cross since its birth. The organization has used this big milestone to work on road safety initiatives around the country and Brian explores how you can use your organization's birthday as a platform for action!

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Aha! So, when you just thought, we (at YOURS) had gone on vacation without running your favorite #BriansColumn, we, without warning switch the lights on! Salutations from the worlds beautiful continent: Africa ☺ (Don’t be jealous).

Have you ever met some one who swears thunders and typhoons that, interestingly, he or she could do anything? Yeah, is it possible that we could translate that energy by conduction, radiation, convection and this time, by birthdays of your organisation into road safety? Hell, yes…considering that, Road Traffic Crashes are the leading cause of deaths among young people aged 10-24, and most of our organizations have either young staff or are relying heavily on the zeal and zap of its youth volunteers to reach out where it would have been impossible.

For example, the Uganda Red Cross Society (where I work as programme manager for first aid and road safety) has a total of 250,000 volunteers country wide (URCS 2012 report). Out of these 85% are young people aged less than 26! These are spanned across 51 branches all over the country, so when I started asking about young people what our birthday celebrations as an organisation should be, I was thrilled to hear from the horse’s mouth:- 'Road Safety needs to be in there’.

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State minister of refugees and disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru attended the launch at URCS headquarters in Kampala. PHOTO/Francis Emorut (Newvision Source)

To be precise, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement all over the world celebrates 8th of May as an international birthday because that was the birth day of its founder Henry Dunant. But in Uganda, the Uganda Red Cross will be celebrating 50 years of existence on 30th July! This acted as an aperitif (like the French call it). With a lot of meetings happening at local and national level, we decided to mobilize every youth leader from each branch to advocate for the inclusion of road safety targeting boda boda riders (local name for motorcyclists), pedestrians and children (as schools were opening in that period).

You can't underestimate the power of young people. Even when, they didn’t have a formal course in road safety and road safety advocacy, the young people did very well to ensure that our national focus with a bottom up approach culminating into a focus on road safety was fulfilled. I don’t wanna take credit for it (but if you give it to me, I will take it) for it was the young people from the local scenes that did the real job, possibly because the effects and burden of road traffic crashes in Uganda (and your country) is there to see.

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Brian's road safety training wth youth leaders from Uganda Red Cross in action!

The news bulletin can be read here. As a result, we’ve since conducted a basic road safety course for 24 youths leaders from the whole country. The course covered the road safety problem, risk factors like non use of helmets, distracted driving, non use of seatbelts, speeding (not overspeeding) and road safety advocacy.

The course was conducted under a YOURS-workshop approach, which I learnt about during the YOURS Workshop in Nairobi last year! Upon which we give credits to UNRA (Uganda National Roads Authority) and Ministry of Works and Transport for the technical support!

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L-R: Helmet removal skills in prehospital care, group discussions on the helmet including myths and facts

Does your organisation have a birthday? Or would you like to initiate a celebration of your organization’s birthday? It’s a time when the organisation wants to do something visible for the community and can use the auspicious occasion to do good on a national level. The same time when they would want their activities to be seen by the greater community. That’s the ripe time to propose to your partner:-in this case, proposing to have road safety in your celebrations. #StaySafe @BrianBilalK1



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