Blog

My story - Part 1

By

Joanita Nassiwa, Refactory

on

May 6, 2021

Michael Green- Founding Member- Refactory

They say that every journey starts with a single step and for me, that step was believing that we could contribute to building IT capacity in East Africa. Because in December 2013, I received a Christmas Card from a former YWAM colleague, and inside it was a very large cheque with the request that the money would be used to do exactly that. I considered that perhaps we should give the money back, because we had never attempted a project like this before, but I felt that we owed it to the donor, to at least take a first simple step; fly to Uganda and see where the gaps and needs were.  It helped that two very capable IT professionals, Karl Pritchard and Pete Sampey, had also just joined YWAM England, and were wondering how they could put their skills to use.

 

I’d love to say that the journey we took, was a nice simple straightforward line from where we started to where we are now, but it took many meandering turns and had its fair share of dead-ends.  There was the Rwandan eLearning platform for nurses, the rural IT vocational training in Lira, and the IT accelerator programme, but the path definitely became much straighter with the arrival of Michael Niyitegeka! Michael’s clear strategic thinking, combined with an agile approach to building programmes, enabled us to start realising the vision to see the gap between the education that universities provided and what employers wanted, start to be closed.

(Front) Michael Niyitegeka-Program Director Refactory speaking to workshop participants in Mbarara.

 

I clearly remember telling the first cohort that went through our “AdvancedCertificate in Applied ICT and Health Leadership” in 2015, that they were the“pioneers” and applauding their bravery in being part of a new way of preparing people for a career in IT.  They each were prepared to take a step in to the unknown, and for many of them, it was the beginning of a new and exciting journey in life.  To the “Applied ICT” course at CIU, we then added a Bootcamp, incorporating the idea of learning by working on live projects with actual clients – a much better way of learning than just being in a classroom!

 

In 2018, we joined forces with Laboremus and Fontes, and ReFactory was born.  Many of the original people and programme DNA carried on through, but the pace of the journey accelerated!  The man who gave us the original donation, recently joined one of the Bootcamp demo days, and was greatly impressed by the quality and standard of work that the students demonstrated.  He definitely felt that his investment had born fruit well beyond his expectations.  More than seven years on from that first step, I can also say that this unexpected journey has gone far beyond my expectations.  It hasn’t always been easy, straightforward or the next steps clear, but I’m glad to both have started the journey and for the many people who have continued it.

Ladies attending a Women in tech workshop in Mbarara.

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