For 2016, The Pollination Project is launching 4 new grantmaking hubs which are run by 17 successful grantees. These hubs help us support local leadership, make better grants, and mentor and develop start-up social change projects. Who better to introduce you to our hub members than their team mates?!
In this installment, Fred Batale interviewed and wrote about Suzan Wilmot, his fellow Ugandan team member in our East Africa Hub.
Suzan Wilmot grew up straddling the line between poverty and privilege, a foot in each world as her father struggled to raise her single handedly while doing odd jobs for wealthier families. These contrasting experiences gave her the chance to determine what is truly meaningful in life. The history we go through shapes our future and determine what we can become in life, and Suzan didn’t let this situation stop her dreams.
Now in her twenties, and a mother of two children, Suzan continues to find herself between worlds. She’s a social change trainer, while also running an international business. She’s an activist shunned by many of her agemates that prefer the perks of being politically connected to a military regime, while also spending her time digging up her groundnuts, boiling dodo, and enjoying the other day-to-day tasks often associated with Lango womanhood.
Suzan has trained refugees in upcycled crafting. She has organized women and youth for nonviolent demonstrations against some of the most viciously powerful men in the African Great Lakes region. She has consulted social change groups, and she has joined campaigns for things like Internet accessibility and less repressive laws. She has endured arrests and has helped others do the same. Her work is colorful, intense, and dynamic.
Doing all the above paved the way for Suzan to become a change maker because she was able to reach many lives. She directs Solidarity Uganda, at the forefront of work in Uganda dedicated to movement building, nonviolent action, and community organizing. She started Solidarity Uganda to train people to achieve peace and justice due to increasing cases of land grabbing, human rights abuses, corruption, and economic exploitation, among others. Her method of operation is realism. She truly pursues high impact, even where there are few inputs. All of these things and more qualify Suzan to be an excellent leader.
“For social change to fully take its course, there has to be two of three key necessities; human resources, time and money. For the case of Uganda where economic poverty is hitting people hard, we need to invest more in time and human resources.”
In a society where young women of Suzan’s tribe get little respect, in spite of their hard work, the hardships that people go through as a result of violence and economic exploitation drive Suzan to continue with her work.
Suzan has always liked to connect people from different aspects of life working towards social change. In her role in the Pollination Project hub, she hopes to engage more people in dialogue on key issues that affect communities and to work with them to come up with clear realistic action plans. Some of her ideas include schemes to support economic empowerment and sustainable activities (such as forming cooperatives), organizing work groups, and making campaign plans.
Suzan hopes that the work of the Pollination Project East Africa Hub can create a space and environment which invites more and more people to be a part of the change they want to see. She says that “for social change to fully take its course, there has to be two of three key necessities; human resource, time and money. For the case of Uganda where economic poverty is hitting people hard, we need to invest more in time and human resources”. She hopes that if enough people can become involved in making change, then the issue of money can come last and a seed grant can just become the icing on the cake!