Welcome to my first blog. My name is Sophia Irepu. I am the Human Security Focal Person and Thematic Coordinator for Human Security in Conflict and Emergencies for ActionAid Uganda. As part of our World Humanitarian Day activities coordinated by ActionAid and UNOCHA, I attended a scout’s event with the Uganda scouts Association. This event made me realize that scouts are often Uganda’s unsung heroes. I learnt that they are often the first ones to respond to a crisis before we even get there. As we commemorate World Humanitarian Day, 2011, I would like to shift the spotlight to an inspirational humanitarian who like most scouts serves his community without expecting anything in return. His name is Wenceslaus Musinguzi. I met him this week during the run-up to the World Humanitarian day 2011 commemoration activities as we visited the National Scout Camporee – a massive scout camp of more than 4000 youth.
Wenceslaus is a scout member with the Uganda scouts’ Association. He is 34 years old, married and with two children. When I met him, he was serving as Scout Commandant for the week long Camporee.
"I handle the day to day affairs of the scouts within the district and extract activities from the national scouts plan. This helps me connect the district scouts and their activities to the national scouts. In my role as District Executive Commissioner, I train scout leaders on basic skills and knowledge of working with the community like giving first aid. I also teach them how to do voluntary work in the community like identifying vulnerable people in the community such as the sick and elderly. The scouts have helped vulnerable people in their homes to do chores like fetching water; promoting hygiene in the compound, digging pit latrines. Other help required may include energy intense labour like construction. In total, we have 1522 scouts in our district who have helped many vulnerable people in the community to learn about self-employment in order to help themselves.
I have been a Scout for the past 24 years and have grown through the ranks to become a scout leader in my district. I chose to become a scout because I respect their values. These include discipline, honesty, loyalty to others and patriotism.
Our honesty is the reason most humanitarian agencies and organisations choose to work with us because we have a good reputation and always give our service voluntarily.
To show for it, Wenceslaus has done a lot of humanitarian work during his time as a scout. He recalls the time when he and his troupes provided support in the camps for 900 refugees from Congo DRC a few years ago. Although they have now become fewer due to resettlement in other camps by UNHCR, 300 refugees still remain in our community as they have not yet been resettled. Wenceslaus and his fellow scouts helped with the distribution of relief items from humanitarian agencies and organisations. They also helped the Office of the Prime Minister to distribute relief items when the district was hit by hailstorms. Other humanitarian activities they have been involved in include implementing road safety programmes and cleaning the town to promote environmental hygiene. On a broader note the scouts helped during the Uganda’s most recent National calamity of the Bududa Landslides in eastern Uganda where over 300 persons were affected. The scouts helped to clear roads that had been blocked by the mudslides, digging up those who had been buried by the mud and carrying people to safety. They were the first at the scene after the incident occurred.
During my visit to the camp Wenceslaus offered me an honorary scout scarf as a symbol of accepting ActionAid into the scout family. The next time I’ll find a Scout in my area, I’ll be sure to give him or her a very firm handshake with my left hand as taught by my humanitarian role model Wenceslaus.
Kudos to all Humanitarians on this World Humanitarian Day.