Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, a 1996 graduate of the Human Rights Advocates Program, began his advocacy work with the organization, Human Rights Concern (HURICO), located in his home country, Uganda. Kaguri co-founded HURICO to help victims of human rights violations in Uganda and to educate the public about their rights. Reflecting on the impact of HRAP to his work, Kaguri says, “Without skills and knowledge from the Advocates Program, I would not have continued with HURICO.”
HRAP provides its participants with a greater understanding of human rights tools and methods as well as the confidence and leadership skills to enhance their individual pursuits. In addition, many participants take advantage of the courses available at Columbia University and the infinite resources available in New York City. Kaguri recalls that during the program, “I started using a computer for the first time and never stopped.”
Since leaving HRAP, Kaguri has made a number of professional and personal accomplishments. He served as a Program Assistant for People’s Decade for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) after having met the founder and director during his participation in HRAP. He also completed a second bachelor’s degree, specializing in fundraising and management, from Indiana University as well as received numerous certificates in various areas of fundraising.
Kaguri currently works with the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, which he founded and directs. Nyaka builds schools for HIV/AIDS orphans in rural Uganda, using a holistic approach to provide free education, uniforms, books, healthcare, shelter for the children, community water, and a community library. Kaguri has successfully started two schools in the villages of Nyaka and Kutamba, the impacts of which have been profound for the two villages and brought wide praise to Kaguri. He has been named Ugandan of the Year, Ugandan Making a Difference, and Social Entrepreneur by Global Giving. In addition, in June 2010, Kaguri and Nyaka were featured in Time Magazine. He is also the Associate Director of Development at Michigan State University.
Kaguri has also completed publishing a book entitled “The Price of Stones: Building a School for My Village,” released in June 2010 and which details the founding, evolution, and impact of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. However, Kaguri still recalls his experience in HRAP as a crucial component of his accomplishments, saying the greatest benefit had been “networking with fellow professionals and other organizations all over the world.” He concludes, “Without this program, I would not have accomplished what I have accomplished. Our children, their grannies, and communities Nyaka serves would not have anything if not for the exposure I got while at Columbia University.”
November 2016 update: Kaguri has been awarded the 2015 Waislitz Global Citizen Award, named a 2012 CNN Hero, a Heifer International Hero, recognized in Time Magazine’s ‘Power of One’ Series, and spoken to the UN about his work. In 2016 Kaguri received an honarory PhD in Humanities from Shenandoah University recognizing his work with Nyaka. Kaguri divides his time between Uganda and Michigan where he lives with his wife Tabitha, their two sons and two twin girls.
—Article composed by Andrew Richardson, Program Assistant, June 2010