Never underestimate small beginnings - Kibet

Sunday September 8 2019

Aggrey Kibet is a programme manager at

Aggrey Kibet is a programme manager at Actionaid International Uganda. Courtesy photo  

By EDGAR R BATTE

The first thing I do in the morning…
I always say a prayer. I seem to have become accustomed to silent prayers because it works for me. I must admit, I sometimes fail to do it and rush out of bed to get ready for work.

The first thing I do when I get to work… I immediately post my day’s tasks on a sticky note. I derive satisfaction in knowing what lies ahead and work through it.

My earliest childhood memory…
I have a negative and positive one. I do have memories of running through a hail of bullets in the late 1980s in Bukwo District during a violent conflict between Sebei and Bagisu over land wrangles.

Our home in a place called Suam at the border of Uganda and Kenya. I was probably four years old, that was scary and traumatic. The positive one was riding on the back of my father’s motorcycle. He used to work as a forester in Kapchorwa then and there were not many motorcycles so it was a privilege. The children in the neighbourhood envied me and it felt good. It’s still etched in my memory.

My first best friend…
That has got to be my sister Jackie. We had only three families at the forest staff quarters in Suam, Bukwo and so when she was born, we played together and bonded very well. We still enjoy a very close relationship. You know there are many times when siblings are not necessarily the best of friends.

My first girlfriend…
This is tough. She was a girl from our neighbourhood in Kapchorwa town. I know her name but don’t know where she is but they say she is married. It was short-lived. We had a special bond but since I was in Primary Seven, I am not sure I understood love. It ended soon after her family relocated. This was a secret since I grew up in a family with strong religious values with my mother as the chief priest. Girlfriends were never tolerated really or even expected in the first place.

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My first kiss…
That is interesting. In Senior Four, in 1998, Becky, a naughty classmate passed by and abruptly kissed me. She was probably going to the washrooms and found me outside our evening prep reading room. She stealthily did it and dashed off as I scrambled to wipe my lips. I had never done it and thought it was so awful because of my family values and background.

It was a ‘sin’ to kiss or love a girl, my mother used to tell me as I became an adventurous teenager. Ironically, Becky laughed it off and we never talked about it. I was later to meet her at Makerere University in second year but we only ended up as acquaintances. I don’t know where she is today.

My childhood hero…
My mother. She has always been such a workhorse, focused, clean and became an image of resilience. I have always looked up to my mother. She is in late 1960s but she is still quite independent, does business, farming, operates a village merchandise shop and a moneylender. Oh, she is such a heroine. I knew she would surmount any challenge and somehow she has never disappointed.

The first book I read…
It was Gifted hands by Ben Carson, a renown African American neurosurgeon.

My first job…
A teacher at a secondary school near my village during my Senior Six vacation.

My first salary…
I earned the first salary of Shs40,000, around 2000. It was quite exciting to earn my own money for the first time. I don’t remember what I did with it though.

My current job…
I now work as programme manager at Actionaid International Uganda, a non-governmental organisation. I oversee community climate resilience work and it involves supporting and coordinating programmes that reduce the impact of climate change on farmers and indeed communities across the country but also working with other stakeholders to ensure we have favourable government policies and laws that favour farmers and communities in as far as adapting and mitigating climate change is concerned.

What I like about my job…
The challenge to deliver. I am challenged every day to be better and offer shared solutions to challenges of communities especially farmers. I personally grew up in a farm so anything that helps farmers overcome challenges is my inspiration.

It is sometimes not easy when people think of quick fixes when the actual work means you have to be patient and work through to a lot to see success but generally I love the small positive steps we make everyday as we mobilise, train and pass information on climate change to communities and government.

What I dislike about my job…
The fact that many people don’t fully appreciate climate change even when they acknowledge the effects. It is seen as technical and yet it is written all over everyday life.
The long droughts, water scarcity, desertification, floods etc. However, my work involves making sure the issue of climate change is simplified, profiled and easily understood by farmers and communities.

My memorable experience…
My memorable experience happened in 1993 while in primary Six at Kapchorwa Primary School. I remember my teacher David Mangusho Cherop was teaching, I think Religious studies and he asked what seemed to be a difficult question.

No one knew the answer but somehow, my mind raced as I remembered what the answer was…
I don’t exactly remember the question but I think the answer was in a bible verse. All I remember was him referring to me as ‘a capable boy’. I didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘capable’ then but I could tell and see the pride in my teacher and admiration from my classmates.

I have never forgotten this phrase and I believe it spurs me on. I derive confidence from that and always believe in myself.

Best advice I have received…
‘Never to underestimate the power of small beginnings’ and this came from my dear wife Jackie. She usually says let’s start small and grow and I embrace it every day.

Biggest regret...
I have no regret.sometimes I think I should have done something but realised God’s timing is always the best.

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