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Going beyond the call of duty – Prisca Murungi

Prisca is a Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Supervisor at Makerere University Joint AIDS program. She is a passion driven lady who goes beyond the call of duty to make a difference inher community. Even before she became a social worker with the SGBV team at MJAP, Prisca helped her friend who was the then supervisor to start up the program. It was then that she realised that Sexual violence is a new topic in the HIV world.

She would soon equip herself with knowledge from various literature about sexual violence to be able to understand how she could help the victims and became a point of reference in sexual violence in the clinics under MJAP where she used to work as an ART Counsellor. Because of her knowledge and passion, she soon became the focal point for Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Emergency Contraception (EC)and would also give emergency trauma counselling.

Going beyond her day job, Prisca started to give her number to the victims to call her in case they needed further help. When SGVB supervisor job fell vacant, MJAP thought it right and fitting for her to take on the job. She has since offered a glimmer of hope to many victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence beyond just givingemergency HIV/AIDS prevention and Contraceptive drugs. Prisca offers a listening ear, words of encouragement, is the voice beckoning them to move past their trauma and achieve their purpose on earth.

Community engagement through innovation

Through funding from PEPFAR and technical assistance from CDC, MJAP is offering services for sexual and gender based violence victims at the National Referral Teaching Hospitals of Mulagoand Mbarara, Butabika Hospital and Makerere University Hospital. Through her work as the SGBV supervisor, Prisca has come to learn that it takes collective effort to fight the vice of sexual violence. Her self-drive has seen her innovate ways to counter the sometimes inadequate funding to go to communities to talk about sexual violence and offer advice about what can be done in case one is victim of the same. Making use of every opportunity, Prisca collaborates with other teams within MJAP during their outreach programs, partner state and non-state organisations to leverage on their resources and reach as many people as possible.

“I talk about sexual violence every chance I get. From the bodaboda cyclists at the stage near my home to the students at my children’s schools. Every opportunity I get to offer hope, I will use it,” Prisca says.


The PEPFAR hero

Prisca’s efforts have not gone unrecognized. In December 2013, together with four other Ugandans, Prisca received the PEPFAR Hero award, an award to honor individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment, passion, and dedication in the fight for an AIDS-free generation in Uganda by the US Mission. “Receiving that award was like a dream come true to me. I was flooded with congratulatory messages, my profile was on the US Embassy website, I was interviewed by many media houses and I visited the US ambassadors’ home during the dinner award ceremony, with the Executive Director as my chaperon,” she recalls with exhilaration.

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As a result of the award, Prisca took part in the 2015 International Visitor Leadership Program in the United States of America. “The three weeks visit was fully funded.I visited seven states of the US. It was my first time on a plane but after the visit I had taken over nine flights,” she says with glee.

Lessons from the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)

“The International Visitor Leadership Program was an experience of a life time which I can probably not summarize in one interview,” Prisca says. She had opportunity to interact with different people from all walks of life, visit Organisations focusing on sexual and gender based violence, women and justice and physco-social rehabilitation among others.

“I learnt that social issues the world over are the same. What makes the organizations we visited different is the detail that is put in every program, from the services offered to the premises where these services are offered, to ensure a comprehensive solution to the survivors. The passion with which the social workers do their job is amazing. For them it’s more than just working for a paycheque. It is offering a service. And it makes a huge difference,” she says.

Reflections “Sexual violence response is still a raw area in Uganda. Many people condone it. They think it’s a way of life yet potentially anyone can be abused. Our society doesn’t appreciate that sexual violence is a crime and there are limited services available for the victims. Even were services are available, the service providers have limited knowledge,” Prisca says With the ongoing trainingof Police, medical officers and the judiciary by WHO, Ministry of Health, Uganda Police, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development about sexual violence, Prisca is hopeful that the victims of sexual and gender based violence will soon receive the comprehensive services that they need to life better lives.Prisca is also part of the High level GBV reference group that is putting together a data base where all state and non-state partners will be feed into one system so that by one visit, a victim can be able to access all related services.