At 42-years, Barungi still sings his mother’s praise like a little boy. This is not without cause.
Barungi’s father was a violent, impatient and indifferent man whose aggression intensified when he got drunk.
“I know families face many hardships but ours was coupled with violence,” says Barungi.
While growing up, Barungi’s father did many things under the influence of alcohol including punishing them to the extent of inflicting physical harm. Barungi says he once almost lost an eye during one such punishments.
“Once I was hit with a stick by my own father and almost lost an eye. By the end of the night, all my siblings had bruises,” he narrates.
Barungi says whenever they heard their father making an entrance, they would go sleep in the toilet or granaries to hide from him.
‘’Most times we would not have committed any serious offence,” Barungi says.
Dropping out of school
Barungi was forced to drop out of school in Senior Four because his mother could no longer afford to pay school fees single-headedly. He resorted to casual labour to make a living.
From that time at 19-years of age, he started brick-laying for almost six years. He used the money to join driving school and ventured into driving vehicles including taxis, trucks, lorries for pay until he returned to school. He says at some point he had to dig a 40ft toilet to earn some money.
Barungi blames his woes on Domestic violence meted out on him by his father.
Dealing with domestic violence
It is from this background that the father of three was inspired to start a mentorship project for the boy child right from a tender age as the best way to address domestic violence.
He argues that more attention has been given to nurturing the girl child who when they grow up have to deal with violent partners who in most cases were never nurtured.
Barungi’s project called The Anointed Men Uganda (TAME-U) is to ensure stable families in the communities through mentorship of men and boys.
The organisation is also set to benefit the disadvantaged, mistreated men and boys as an effort to promote harmonious coexistence especially in family and relationship settings through sensitisation and support.
“We do seminars and one on one interactions too. We take boys through what it really means to be a responsible man,” Barungi says.
Barungi says they offer guidance in many forms for instance through religious leaders, church members, social workers and advocates such as lawyers.
TAME-U an non-governmental organisation also supports men financially as a way of helping impoverished families.
So far, Barungi says, the initiative is appreciated by women who have asked to be involved in the workshops and seminars because at the end of the day the family is built by both men and women.
“Maybe if my father had got this kind of training on how to manage a family and behave like a husband and father should, my siblings and I wouldn’t have been abused,” he says.
Since they target males right from their childhood, the organisation plans to establish mentorship clubs in schools.
“Through those clubs we get days and meet them [the boys] at school and we talk about how a boy child should behave,” he says.
Although Barungi eventually broke the barriers when he returned to school and achieved a Bachelors of Arts in Arts (Organisational studies) and a Master’s in Human Resource Management, he wants to ensure no child goes through a similar experience. Barungi is currently a Human Resource Officer at the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI).
Domestic violence remains one of the most widespread human rights violations in Uganda and the world today. The acts include battering, marital rape, femicide, female genital mutilation, and child marriage
According to the Uganda Police Force’s annual crime reports the number of unreported gender-based violence cases at about 50,258. Majority of this violence is committed against women.