Olga Nasaazi Kayima, RapidPro Community Manager, and Deployment Consultant

Tell us a bit about your background.
I am Ugandan and spent the first 9 years of my life in Kampala, Uganda. I was sent to the UK when I was 10 years old to live with my maternal aunt when I lost my parents. Thanks to a large, supportive, and loving extended family both here in Uganda and in the UK, I have truly been “raised by a village.” After my pursuing my undergraduate in the UK, I spent my early twenties in China, where I worked and completed my masters – while of course attempting to see as much of Asia.

My experiences have exposed me to realities of life – that it can suddenly change and that one can feel a sense of powerlessness during those times. These realizations showcase why I deeply value the work that we do at UNICEF.

What do you do?
I support UNICEF country offices with the roll-out of their RapidPro deployments. I also develop online resources for RapidPro and foster engagement within the RapidPro community. To achieve these tasks involve a fair amount of Skype calls, answering questions, tracking, giving tutorials and orientations on RapidPro, to name a few.

What’s your working day like?
I typically start at 8:00 am – usually checking emails from the day before. Most of the morning is spent emailing back and providing support to UNICEF country offices around RapidPro features, deployment, and troubleshooting. After lunch, I will have a few more calls with other country offices either to orient, check-in, or offer support around RapidPro. My afternoons also include catching up with our senior deployment specialist to discuss strategies and improvements.

How would you describe your job to a 5-year-old?
This is a tricky one! I will tell a 5-year-old that I help people learn how to use new tools that help solve problems for children.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a teacher. I was so dedicated to achieving this dream – I even took a Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL) course leading me to volunteer at a local organisation. During this time, I taught unaccompanied minors basic English while also supporting them in finding services they needed.

How/when did you join UNICEF?
I joined UNICEF in August 2016 volunteering as a digital content editor at UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre (GIC). I was tasked to support testing a learning product called Kolibri. When my present role was advertised, I knew it was perfect for me – so I applied, and now here I am.

What are the most satisfying parts of your job?
The most satisfying part of my job is when I see UNICEF country offices really taking advantage of RapidPro’s dynamism and capacity. To the extent of maximizing all its capabilities and finding new, effective ways to utilize it. Examples can be using RapidPro to disseminate information and reminders to expectant mothers, or empowering communities and children to advocate for quality education through U-Report.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect for me is how our team is spread across various continents around the world. It’s not very easy to see a team member in person and of course, time differences can be hard to arrange meetings. However, I think it’s also fantastic to have a unified team working in various areas across the globe!

What’s your best UNICEF experience/memory?
My best UNICEF memory to date is our (now closed) GIC Innovation Lab office in Mbuya. From the lush green space, full of monkeys, and jackfruit to the different prototypes laid around around the place, it was a beautiful and inspiring place to work.

What’s one of the biggest risks you’ve ever taken in your life?
After deciding to leave Beijing, I was contemplating on either going back to the UK or moving to Uganda. I decided to go to Uganda (where I didn’t have any firm job opportunities or friends). It has been a great (re)learning experience and one of my best decisions so far.

What are your passions?
I enjoy travelling – especially for food. I love seeing the ingenuity and innovation in cooking – especially in places that have scarce resources.

What advice would you give others who are seeking a similar job as yours?
I would say be open to opportunities, even when they might not seem like what you have planned for. Being quite early on in a career, I think it is important to listen and learn as much as you can from all experiences you have. It is through this that you will find what makes you excited and inspired. Also, don’t be afraid to try and fail – it’s part of the journey.

Who do you look towards for inspiration?
I look up to my aunt for the determination and willpower she possesses. All I have learned about being tenacious and pragmatic has come from her.

My colleagues don’t know that…
I am a complete Steven Seagal geek. I have watched pretty much all of his filmographies.

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