Thursday, June 4, 2015

Turning her passion for Mentorship to elevate Young African Women – Meet Ms. Nodumo Dhlamini

Ms. Nodumo Dhlamini (center) with some of the Girls from AfChixUganda
Afchix Uganda was originally born as LinuxChix Uganda. It came about after a group of women led by Dorcas Muthoni and Ana Badimo met at Kalangala Island in Uganda in January 2006. Evelyn Namara and Lillian Achom championed the formation of LinuxChix Uganda. Evelyn was the board member for Eastern Africa on the LinuxChix Africa Board and Lillian Achom was the Council Member. AfChix Uganda was re-organized in 2009 and is led by Lillian Achom. When Ms. Nodumo Dhlamini came into Uganda in January 2009, she sought out Evelyn and Lillian and they agreed to rejuvenate LinuxChix Uganda under the name AfChix Uganda. Their simple goal is to give back to the community by supporting girls and women to succeed as IT Professional.

Passion for Mentoring Girls
Ms. Nodumo discovered she was passionate about young girls while working at Africa University in Mutare Zimbabwe from 1999 to Dec 2008. She found herself drawn to support girls in the IT Department as well as support girls in her role as part-time Assistant Warden responsible for female hostels.

In Uganda, Ms. Nodumo believes AfChix Uganda has done some good work - visiting schools to talk to girls about careers in Information Communication and Technology (ICT), celebrating girls in ICT days, identified girls to mentor and held their hands, held meetings to strategize in developing proposals for funding and met to draft conference papers for international IT related conferences. As the girls did all this, they had immense fun, became a family and learned from each other.

What kind of AfChixUg do you see in the next 5years?
  • Ms. Nodumo would love to see each Afchix Uganda member picking one girl every year to mentor. Mentorship does not have to be stressful - it can be checking on your mentee regularly, identifying opportunities for that mentee to participate in, giving career advice and supporting them if they are going through a hard time at school, college, work or personal life.
  • She would like to see Afchix Uganda champion the holding of an international conference for women in IT - something like a version of Grace Hoper Conference for Women in IT in Africa.
  • Finally, she would love to see the AfChix Uganda social media platforms growing to e.g. 8,000 Facebook likes and 10,000 Twitter Followers.

Rewarding efforts: Mentorship goes a long way - Nodumo's legacy. 

Here are some testimonies from the girls. 

Lillian Achom: Lillian's interaction with Ms. Nodumo dates back in 2006. In about six months’ time, she will be celebrating ten (10) amazing years of quality friendship with her. Over the past years, she has found Ms. Nodumo to be a dynamic woman who by heart, has a unique insight and tremendous ability to connect with people, inspiring and nurturing them to move in a positive direction; Ms. Nodumo is devoted to taking the time to understand your goals, dreams and aspirations, is dedicated to your success and finding new ways to support you. One of the very important moments in Lillian's  life was her education. She would not have got scholarship to upgrade her studies had it not been for Ms.Nodumo's devotion.

Ms. Nodumo's seemingly endless “You can do it” enthusiasm and generous spirit brought a new meaning to Lillian's life. By keeping her focused and accountable, yet providing an unbiased point of view, Ms.Nodumo has provided her with a clear vision of where she is going, defining what she wants and her future. Being close to her, Lillian has learned to: be a leader, have patience, live by example, positively impact the society she is in irrespective of our background, always give her best, love and care for those around her. Lillian has learnt that a good manager is never too busy to listen.

"I want you to know that I always looked forward (and still look forward) to meeting you always because I knew I would learn something important from you. Thank you so much for the many wonderful things you have done in my life. Your advice and deeds have made profound difference in my life. Together with the team, we promise to take Afchix Uganda to the next level." said the grateful Lillian.

Lisa Katusiime: Lisa a Software Entrepreneur. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering at Makerere University, she was introduced to an amazing woman (Ms Nodumo) by a friend Emily and she is blessed for having met her. Lisa testifies that she was always afraid of speaking in front of large crowds but when she joined Afchix, She BELONGED to a group of ladies that brought out the best in her. This boosted Lisa's confidence and she is now able to present at larger gatherings like the Grace Hopper Conference (2013), TEDxKiraTown (2015) and was currently profile on NTV Uganda. Lisa is grateful for Ms. Nodumo's words of encouragement, “It doesn’t matter whether they refuse but they get to know about you every time you knock at their door” that has enabled her to keep going even when she gets NO everytime she is advocating for her startup - AgroMarketDay. Lisa is now her own boss today because of you Ms Nodumo #ThankYouNodumo. 

Viola Bazanye: Viola a software engineer by profession, she first heard about Afchix from a friend and classmate called Emily. Emily mentioned to viola and a group of other friends about a very inspiring lady she had recently met and invited them to meet her as well so that they too can be inspired. This lady was Ms. Nodumo Dhlamini. To this day, Viola's life has never been the same ever since she met Ms.Nodumo. "I can confidently say that I am pursuing my dream career of User Experience design because of her. All the conferences and opportunities that have come my way, that have inspired me to be confident in my own right and to never give up on my dreams, all were made possible by her influence". she hinted with a smile. When She looks back five years ago, viola says she would never have thought she would be where she is today if it wasn’t for Ms.Nodumo. She is very grateful to her because of that. #ThankYouMsNodumo

Emily Nemy: Emily first met Ms. Nodumo in an office that once belonged to a mutual friend of theirs. "She was graced with so much humility and kindness in her voice. We had a little chat about my education and exchanged contact details." Emily remembers fondly. This marked the start of an amazing journey, as Ms. Nodumo was willing to be her mentor. Ms. Nodumo had confidence that Emily would make it in life. "She constantly reminded me of how amazing I was and believed in me. Ms. Nodumo introduced me to a different perspective of technology, read all the versions of my curriculum vitae, edited our first paper to the Grace Hopper Conference, was willing to respond to my messages at 5am and her passion to help ladies stole my heart. She made a huge part of me and now I have a task to make another life full of potential". Emily affirms

Shakira Ndagire Seruwagi:  Shakira was just any other software engineer until January 2014 when she met Ms. Nodumo through a training by Afchix ladies at Thoughtworks Uganda. Shakira remembers Ms. Nodumo asking her if  she wanted to join. She accepted immediately since she had been given a brief introduction about AfChix. This was a life changing experience for shakira learning about social innovations that give back to the community for example Afchix solicitated funds and set up a world class computer laboratory for the Uganda School of the Deaf. The group, especially Ms Nodumo gave Shakira the opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Conference in USA through exposure, continued assistance when writing the proposals and scholarship recommendations. This strongly boosted her love for technology after meeting awesome ladies in ICT from allover the world .

"Meeting the various members of Afchix who have made it in technology as Developers, Systems administrator, TechEntrepreneurs changed the perception I had that hard things were for boys and easy ones for girls.This encouraged me to preach Technology to all girls that i meet since this opened my eyes to reality." Reflects Shakira. Afchix is also fun since we engage in activities ranging from meeting young girls and telling them about ICT and life skills, organizing events like Girls in ICT day,Afnog, having photo sessions, meetups, mentoring, being there for each other and so much more. "I am grateful to be apart of the Afchix family, thanks for changing my life for the better and we will continue to put its flag high." she said.

Liz Mirembe:
In Uganda girls or women need direction despite their potential, they lack mentors to help them live to their full potential. This changed when Liz met Miss Nodumo and Afchix. She met Ms. Nodumo in her third year at Makerere University. Before she met her, Liz was merely studying to complete a course, something that many girls in Uganda do because they do not have mentors to help them visualize. "I had no career vision and ambition. I was barely informed of what I could even accomplish or the opportunities that the world had to offer for people, and girls in ICT."   recalls Liz.

When Liz met Ms. Nodumo she was in the process of establishing Afchix Uganda chapter and she was looking for girls who were “passionate about ICT” to mentor them and help them live to their full potential. She joined Afchix and  suddenly had a vision for her life. She knew who she wanted to be and where she wanted to take her career.

Liz testifies that Ms.Nodumo opened her eyes, taught her to always look forward and to aim high. "She taught me the importance of passion and what it actually means to be a leader. I joined Afchix because I wanted to be close to her and to be like her because I had never met a lady like her, successful, composed, passionate, focused and selfless." Ms. Nodumo with her contagious personality made Afchix Uganda what it is. Afchix has taught Liz what it means to work with passion, the true importance of mentorship, teamwork, hard work and to believe in oneself. She has learnt to aim high and that the sky indeed is the limit. #Thank you Nodumo, Thank you Afchix Uganda

AfChix Uganda would like to thank you Ms. Nodumo for your Leadership, Guidance, love and untiring efforts to mentor Girls and see them blossom into Confident women. We wish you the very best in your next chapter. #ThankYouNodumo is our way of saying thank you.


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