Meet Rehema Nsanyiwa
MEET THE MUSES: Rehema Nsanyiwa interviewed by Else Kerkmann ~ friends, activists, artists, mothers.
How do you know each other?
Rehema: Else is my sister. She sheltered me, fed me and loved me during the time I spent in
Bend, Oregon where I had been invited by World Muse, a super awesome program.
Else: I very briefly met Rehema on a trip to Uganda. At the time, she was the top girl breakdancer in the country.
What do you have in common?
Rehema: For women who want to be. We are both mothers and lovers of change.
Else: We both love to help lift people up, but both need time to reboot. I think we are both
learning to invest a little more time in ourselves.
What do you admire in each other?
Rehema: I admire her tenacity and comprehensiveness.
Else: Her courage and her capacity for love of others.
What two words would describe your friendship?
Rehema: Empathy and curiosity.
Else: Trust and laughter.
About you, Rehema:
What makes you leap out of bed?
Dissatisfaction, emptiness, and celebration.
What did you dream about when you were 8?
At 8, I dreamed of being like Samuel. The child talked about in the Bible who became a key figure in restoring the Israelites religious heritage after his mother Hannah had suffered not having had a child in a society where having a child brought approval and acceptance (1 Samuel1). I had just lost my mother and I really had no idea how I was going to turn out to be, even when I had a vision. I stayed within incredibly dysfunctional families where I was extremely discriminated upon. I spent more time on the streets looking for a place to call home. In relation to Hannah who later birthed Samuel after countless times of prayer and dedication to the point that the priest Eli in the temple misunderstood her for being drunk; that was the point in my life when I discovered that I would get whatever I wanted If I knew what it was, worked and prayed towards getting it. I remember praying, “Please Lord, make me an adult now. My promise is to work hard and achieve my goal. I don’t have anyone to sacrifice me to you like Samuel but I can sacrifice myself to serve you.”
What do you dream about now?
I always envisioned myself being talked about in a magazine, particularly from South Africa. I don’t think I have a dream now. I think I only dreamed once. I just envision things now.
What matters most to you?
I hate giving halves or quarters of myself. Being whole matters most to me.
What do you tell young people to do?
To reach a point where they are most themselves. That’s where the magic happens.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My most marked characteristic is playful independence.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having reached a point that best describes the idea of who I am and supporting others to attain theirs.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Caring for those that don’t have.
What is your motto?
Inside is the source.
Tell us about your work:
What are you working on now?
I am the Director and founder of Girlbe; a grassroots initiative that empowers young
women and girls from local communities through creative means of learning. At Girlbe, we do creative workshops (both awareness and ability) in capacity building and entrepreneurship among young women aged 17-23 years old and regular artistic, domestic, and literacy support for girls aged 8-16. We create a platform for learning by sharing skills, experience, knowledge and space for young women and girls to build self-esteem, entrepreneurial skills, literacy, leadership, intra and inter personal skills to create employment opportunities for young women from deprived backgrounds. We connect girls and young women with raw creativity and fresh ideas to well established professional artists. We are currently working on establishing the Girlbe academy which will be a three months intensive creative residential program for sexually abused young women in Uganda.
After running Girlbe for four consecutive years, I realized the need to address issues related to sex abuse among girls and young women from local communities. When a girl lacks the most basic requirements of life like food, love and shelter, she is at a higher risk of being taken advantage of by those that seem to have the resources. It’s essential to cultivate a new awareness in them about self, supplemented with practical skills and material resources that can earn them a decent living. The worst decision is that made out of despair; we want to minimize that.
What should people know about your work?
People should know that my work is life. It’s not about pamphlets and research documents – even when they are also needed especially in resource finding and documentation - it’s simply walking for only a fraction of a second in a young woman’s life undergoing any form of social injustice.
How can we support you and your work?
First of all, you are already supporting me and I appreciate. However, to answer your question, you can support me by sharing both mentor and material resources within your reach.
How do you balance work and play?
The only part of what I do that would require play is ‘management’ not leadership.
(Doing something right and doing the right thing respectively as Peter Drucker stated). Honestly, my work is the most natural thing I do. It’s creative, and thus I get to express myself. I dance, I write, I sing and play instruments. That for me is play.
Share your inspiration with us:
When and where are you most inspired?
My inspiration is from daily life experiences. Since my childhood, I always wanted to be. I couldn’t tell exactly what I wanted to be so I tried out a variety of things. Starting with sports that crowned me sports prefect or student leader in sports at my primary school to leadership where I held countless roles to being Head girl even when I was the child that was always sent back home for school fees to studies where I also topped my class a number of times to dance and now to just creative means of learning. So, it’s difficult to grasp who I really am. I think I would be anything. Doctor, engineer, lawyer, political leader, you name it. It’s just not found inside of me. It’s like self discovery is the ideal abstract art piece I can present when it comes to what inspires me most. It’s such a concept!
If you could inspire one change in yourself, what would it be?
I find radical inspiration at the edge of things both positive and negative even when most times it’s too exhausting and painful respectively.
If you could inspire one change in the world, what would it be?
The understanding of money and meaning.
Where do you look for inspiration in your daily life?
Doing things to the point that it couldn’t get any better from an honest place. I can choose to take a rest to recollect my thoughts and heal my body but not in search for inspiration. Deliberate search for inspiration is one way of cutting it short. I just live my life and that’s enough.
Who inspires you?
Everybody can be a source of inspiration from various perspectives. However,
personally specifically and consistently I find Sunoj D a contemporary visual artist
from India Banglore whose life, simple, fulfilling, empathetic but also competent and
my 4 year old son Hayagi Anand Kerkmann who gets me to just wonder.
Who are your social change muses?
My social change muses are Bill Kahirimbanyi Bekunda of Foundation for Advancing Healthy Lifestyle Options, Faisal Kiwewa of Bayimba, Abramz Tekya of Breakdance Project Uganda, Melissa Michaels of Golden Bridge and Amanda Stuermer of World Muse.
Want to share a quote or a poem or a song lyric that inspires you?
I will share something from the Bible even though I am not religious. (1 Samuel 1:12-14)
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli the priest observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. She was mumbling. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ”How long will you keep on
getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”
Now, let’s dive deep:
What is holding you back from living the life you want?
Nothing is holding me back. My life is perfect the way itis. Everything I am now is a result of yesterday’s experience and decisions and I am aware of it. However, I embrace uncertainties.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is the loss of my sense of self.
Learning to be as independent as possible.
What breaks your heart for others?
When they can’t understand things like being honest, speaking from the heart and feeling for others.
How do you break your own heart?
Self criticism and condemnation
If you had the world stage for one moment, what would your message be?
My message to the whole world would be simple. Find a way to help someone else.
Let’s talk about motherhood:
What two words best describe you as a mother?
What do you love best about motherhood?
Interaction, relationship, experiencing each other’s life, and trust that my son and I are heading
What do you find most challenging about motherhood?
Keeping up being the mother. Sometimes I want to be the child.
As a mother, what is your greatest fear?
Failure to provide for my son physically, spiritually and mentally.
What has been your greatest lesson from motherhood?
What two words best describe your mother?
Finish this sentence: What I remember most about my mother is…
That she took good care of her stepchildren.
What story did you inherit from your mother?
Diligence, aggressiveness, versatility, and modesty.
What story do you hope to pass down to your children?
That divorce is due to uniting two people into one.
Thank you both for the inspiration. xo, muse
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