Interview with Rehema Nsanyiwa from GirlBe

Serendipity, the magic of unexpected encounters, can happen anywhere. This week it happened to me on Facebook, when my colleague and friend Lenneke tagged me on a message Rehema Nsanyiwa wrote on the Permanent Future Lab group, asking for people to collaborate with ideas on how she could initiate a PFL in Uganda. As this is a great opportunity we immediately thought about publishing it here. But what we got was way more. Meet Rehema Nsanyiwa, a real-life superwoman.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Rehema Nsanyiwa. I am a social change enthusiast. At 16, having had a deeply fractured childhood, I started to get very involved in the affairs of low-income communities (those living below the poverty line). I taught children and young women how to take charge of their lives through creative means of learning like dance, drums, songs, and talks. I am passionate about breaking the cycle of poverty in low-income communities. I believe that every person that has been blindfolded and trapped in poverty for years, can recognize a glimpse of light to their true sight and take action in opening others’ eyes.

Can you tell us more about GirlBe?

Founded in 2011, GirlBe is a non-profit initiative dedicated to empowering girls aged 3 to 12 in low-income communities, through the facilitation of creative Skills, Space and


A society full of empowered young women, equipped with the awareness and the
ability to transform their lives and uplift their communities.

GirlBe is currently based in Kansanga, a suburb of the capital Kampala. Through in-kind and personal support, we have reached more than 5000 girls in low-income communities and partner schools. These girls are engaged in numerous empowerment activities to know who they are and express their truth through art. One of the girls, Marion Nabukeera, is currently a professional photographer at age 12. Her works have been selected for one national exhibition and many various events where she shared her creativity. She represents our vision. Empowerment, Awareness, and Ability!

GirlBe is a call for girls to simply be themselves. It was my mantra as a teenager. When I told myself GirlBe, I became the girl I aspired to be. It is now helping many other girls to realize their true worth and use that to confidently challenge the demeaning status quo.

What inspired you to begin this initiative?

At 18, I dropped out of school because what I studied didn’t respond to the needs of my
community. Girls left out in my neighborhood had no place to call home. They were getting pregnant and catching sexually transmitted diseases while no one took responsibility. This challenge among others put girls at a higher risk of living a completely hopeless life. Therefore, I started GirlBe, to address this challenge by providing them with scholarships, a safe space, and fun out of school skills.

How can people support GirlBe?

People can reach out in various ways. As teachers of creativity and critical thinking, as
fundraisers or as donors.
We have so far given out 126 scholarships and hope to reach more vulnerable girls to
support. For only € 18, A girl can be kept in school for the period of three months. Anyone willing to contribute to that will be investing directly in a girl’s education. Click on our Donation button on our website to contribute.

You are looking to start the first Permanent Future Lab in Uganda, how did you get in touch with this movement?

Last year in November, I was in the Netherlands representing GirlBe, with a number of
young women leaders from Africa. I got a chance to participate in the coding course that led to the Code to Change conference, where I met Jurjen. His presentation of Permanent Future Lab got me enthusiastic about technology. He later invited me to visit the lab where I met his colleague Samir among others. This was an eye-opening experience. Taking a look back home where we live below the poverty line, I was filled with a ray of hope that Permanent Future Lab could be a means and learning tool of technology, to inspire a community that motivates its people to innovative around its needs.

How can people support you?

This is a call for a team. I need anyone willing to share ideas, motivation, and inspiration to help me set up Permanent Future Lab in Uganda.

Jori Questions

Weird question: If you were a magic potion, what would your effect be? What kind of person would seek a potion like you?

If I had a magic potion, it would be Imperial Blue. A substance you take that reveals visions of the future. Anyone curious and ambitious would seek me.

Profound question: What’s the day-to-day activity that makes you feel the most
powerful? Describe this feeling.

The day to day activity that makes me feel powerful is Imagination. I imagine a world of
endless possibilities for happiness.