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STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Meet Allan Denis, Health Advocate

(Photo: Coach Allan dancing with Coach Joan during one of our Monday Team Meetings)

In 2015, Allan Denis Zziwa (otherwise known as Coach Allan) officially joined our Girl Up Initiative Uganda team as a Programs Officer for the Ni-Yetu Youth Program. Through this program we work with youth living in the slums of Kampala to prevent gender-based violence and educate them on sexual and reproductive health so they can make informed and more empowered decisions. Allan brings a wealth of experience in community work and counseling together with a passion for our team and programs. We invite you to get to know him a little better!

1. What is your favorite part about working at Girl Up Initiative Uganda?

At Girl Up Initiative Uganda, there is a sense of sisterhood/brotherhood. This keeps me moving as I’m working with people I can count on, not strangers.

Also, since I was a child I’ve had a dream of working in health related programs and now I’m engaging youth in activities related to sexual and reproductive health, so this is a dream come true!

2. What’s one of your special skills or ‘super powers’ you bring to the Girl Up team?

I have always given a hand in problem solving. Challenges can never be dodged in life. With my skills in problem solving, I have managed to find solutions to problems ranging from the management level to the lower levels of the organization to ensure the realization of the dream of Girl Up Initiative Uganda which is “Putting Girls and Women at the Centre of Development.”

3. Why are you passionate about this work?

I am delighted to be part of community transformation. Having the opportunity to combat gender-based violence to develop healthy relationships and safe places in communities for all to fully enjoy their rights, pushes me to continue working with youth living in the slums of Kampala.

(Photo: Coach Allan and Clare with the Ni-Yetu Champions of Change boys’ sports group)

4. Why is this work needed?

This work is needed! We are living in the 21st century where everything requires support rather than leaving out a particular group. We all know that Uganda has a larger percentage of youth, many of whom are uneducated, unemployed, or even school dropouts. The Ni-Yetu Youth Program gives me a chance to reach out to these vulnerable youths with the right information on sexual and reproductive health and engage them to prevent gender-based violence.

Seeing youth looking at employment as the only way to avoid poverty frustrates me. Each time I find a fellow youth asking me for employment linkages I get a headache. Our government has failed to adjust the education system to train job creators rather than job seekers.

(Photo: Coach Allan addressing pupils at Murchison Bay Primary School)

5. What is your vision for the future… for these girls and women, boys and men; for Uganda; for the world?

I want to see a world where all youth have access to health services and gender-based violence is no longer the talk of the day and an old reality where there are equal opportunities in all spaces.

6. What is your vision for your role in creating that future?

I am going to work closely with the government and civil society through advocacy, and any other avenue, to ensure that what matters to people in this 21st century is put as priority for the State, not only in Uganda, but across Africa, holding both the states and civil society accountable to their commitments!

7. Is there something special you’re highlighting or celebrating this month?

Yes! I am celebrating all the advocacy groups who have come out to fight for the cause of health related services to be available and accessible by all. At the same time, I celebrate myself for the confidence that I apply in my work, facing new challenges without fear.

(Photo: Coach Allan at one of the Ni-Yetu Health Camps in Katwe)

I attribute my successes to my fiancée. She has always encouraged me and taught me how to be patient with people and life. She opened my mind to believing that, “The sky is big enough for all birds to fly,” thus strengthening my capacity to fly above this harsh economic situation.

8. What do you enjoy doing/eating/exploring outside of Girl Up?

I love to love my Lady (She means everything to me).

I enjoy reading and learning.

I like adventuring.

Music and dancing make me alive!

Ohhh! Swimming and gym as well.

9. What is a fun fact about you?

I make life easy for people, if they don’t cross lines.