Sharon Mfite Uwamahoro joined Performance Monitoring for Action Uganda as a Resident Enumerator for Ankole Region in June 2016. She has since taken part in the different PMA studies.
The 35-year-old wife and mother of two boys aged 10 and 8 years recently got a job with Uganda Bureau of Statistics as a Demographer in the Department of population and social statistics - Directorate of Demography and Gender. Uwamahoro attributes her current achievement to the experience and exposure acquired during her five years with PMA.
She shares her experiences with us.
The first data collection I did with PMA was on the Schistomiasis (Bilharzia) study in June 2016. The past five years as a Resident Enumerator (RE) have been a great opportunity of learning for me. There have been challenging times in the field but the experience I have received cannot be measured.
PMA REs are given an opportunity to be project managers in the enumeration areas they work in. With the guidance of a supervisor, you are accorded autonomy to carry out data collection independently. When you are in the field you know that the project’s success depends on you so you give it your best. This gave me self-reliance and confidence.
Through PMA I have also networked with so many valuable people both within PMA and in the field that I am taking on to the next season of my life. My communication skills have greatly improved through these interactions.
I joined PMA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Population Studies. I decided to go back and do a Masters using with the money I have been making in the different PMA rounds. I currently hold a Master’s Degree in Population and Reproductive Health from Makerere University.
My time with PMA taught me to be patient and resilient. In the field, I faced a number of challenges like bad weather, poor roads and sometimes refusals from respondents. These felt like a challenge then but as a demographer now, I know I was being prepared well.
In the past I had done other studies that were not population related. Demography is a population science and therefore my experience will come in handy in my new role.
I am proud to have been a part of such a great project that informs family planning policy and planning in Uganda. Over time I have seen the national data on family planning showing that there is an increase in the access and use of F.P methods by women in Uganda. This means the size of the population will be checked and there will be an improvement in the wellbeing of families. Women will also be able to have children they can take care of. I am proud to know that a project I have been a part of plays a role in creating this change.
I am thankful to my supervisor, Sheila Kisakye who always encouraged me to persevere even when it was difficult. She assigned me to hard-to-reach areas and whenever I inquired why, she said I was her best fit for such places. This made me believe in myself.
I also thank the PMA Field Coordinator Victor Guma, and Principal Investigators Prof. Fredrick Makumbi and Dr. Simon Peter Kibira for the opportunity they gave me every PMA round.
I encourage all REs who are looking forward to getting to the next level to be patient, believe in yourself, work hard and stay resilient.
PMA is a family and I plan to be a part of it forever.