It would be hard to imagine anybody better qualified or better suited to take on the job of Seed Country Representative in Uganda than Bonaventure “Bonny” Ahaisibwe.
Growing up near Mbarara in southwestern Uganda as the youngest in a family of 11, Bonny pursued an education and career in medicine almost by default. “Both my parents were health workers,” he recalls. “I never really made a deliberate choice at a particular time to go to medical school. It was more like, ‘I must go.’”
And by the time he joined Seed last October, he was already deeply familiar with and committed to Seed and our flagship program with the U.S. Peace Corps – the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP). After starting his career seven years earlier as a medical officer in a refugee settlement, he had advanced rapidly through a series of leadership and management positions and landed at the Peace Corps, where he served first as a medical officer and then as Program Manager for GHSP.
“When Seed first expressed interest in having an in-country presence,” he said, “I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring a lot of innovation and creativity” to bear on improving human resources for health (HRH) in Uganda.
Bonny’s goals for his first year as Country Representative include “expanding the visibility of Seed as an important player for HRH in the country” and “exploring how we can amplify the value of the volunteers, both with complementary resources and fostering a supportive environment at the partner institutions where they work.”
To advance his first goal, he hopes he and Seed can take the lead in establishing an HRH “community of practice” in Uganda, starting with plans to convene a half-day conference that would bring together all the key players and stakeholders.
And he sees several ways that he and other Country Representatives can support and amplify the work of Volunteers and the Seed team. Among other things, he suggested, they can provide:
- Valuable perspective by “representing the sentiments of what a typical health worker in the country would think or feel”;
- “Real-time support” at times when “you just need to have a warm body present, someone who can be there in person to hold a discussion and read the body language”;
- “Help connecting with other players” who play an important role in what we do; and
- “More intimate support for Volunteers” on the inevitable occasions when “they need some physical handholding or maybe someone to meet with their counterpart.”
Bonny embraces all of these dimensions of his Country Representative role as ways he can contribute to his ambitious long-term goal for Seed, GHSP, and the partner institutions with which we work.
“My vision for Seed in the next 10 years in Uganda,” he said, “is to see if we can support the Ugandan medical and nurse education system until it gets to the level that our partner institutions can function as centers of excellence and drivers of change for the quality of HRH education in the whole country.”