Where are they now? Catching up with AYV Alum Esther Nazziwa Rebecca from Uganda

Nazziwa Esther Rebecca

Who: Esther Nazziwa Rebecca
From: Kampala, Uganda
How you were involved with Adobe Youth Voices (AYV): I was a student and peer-educator in Gayaza High School, a leading AYV site in Uganda
Issue you care about: People and the environment in which they grow up

At her school in Uganda, Esther learned to make films through Adobe Youth Voices and eventually screened her work for the president and other dignitaries at an event celebrating World Teacher’s Day.  When we spoke with her five years ago, she urged her peers to “show their media to decision makers and people who are impactful in their communities.”  An AYV Scholarship recipient, Esther has crossed the world to study architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.  She aims to return home and revolutionize housing – to be, herself, a decision maker and have impact in her community.

“I know that people have the ability to rise above and beyond their circumstances, but I ask: why must it get to that?  Why not do something before it’s so late?  It is for this reason that I seek to bring us to a time when slums as we know them shall no longer exist.”

– Esther Nazziwa Rebecca, AYV Scholar and a first-year student at Illinois Institute of Technology

Q:  Why are you interested in making media?

A:  I love making media because it gives me an effective and unlimited means in which to share what’s on my mind or talk about the things I feel are of concern. We live in an age of great technological advancement which means that the audience for any given media is much bigger than ever before thus I get to reach way more people than I can imagine.

Q:  How is media making a part of your life?

A:  I was quite familiar with narrative videos and photo stories, but I have been venturing out into other forms just to see how far my creativity can stretch. I want to do more of music and photoGraphics (Graphic Design in Photography), so I am in a season of skill building.

Q:  What advice do you have for young people like yourself?

A:  It’s imperative to know that anything worth achieving is going to have obstacles in the way, but I daresay: “Never Give Up!” You’ve got to have an inner drive and determination to ride over anything en route and see all the speed bumps as opportunities to slow down, learn, re-strategize and then go for it full throttle. The reward will be so worth every moment!

Q:  What’s the last movie, book, or website that inspired you?  Why?

A:  A documentary titled ‘Urbanized.’ It focuses on the design of cities, looking at the issues and strategies behind urban design and it features some of the world’s front-most architects, planners and policymakers. I found it inspirational because it is in line with one of my greatest life goals, which is to be a part of my country’s growth through infrastructural development especially in slum eradication. The documentary features people who are actively seeking solutions to the same problems I am concerned about, and they have attained a certain level of success and as such it strengthened me to know that it’s not a solo battle I seek to fight and it’s very possible!  I will get there.

Q:  What issue or cause do you care about and why?

A:  I really care about people and the environment in which they grow up. I am convinced that the environment in which one is brought up contributes greatly to who they turn out to be, how they see themselves, and how they engage the world. I know that people have the ability to rise above and beyond their circumstances, but I ask; why must it get to that? Why not do something before it’s so late? It is for this reason that I seek to bring us to a time when slums as we know them shall no longer exist. I am studying and seeking new ways to make sure that every human being lives at or above the minimum housing requirements with a reasonable quality of life and at a very affordable cost.

Q:  What are your professional or life goals?  

A:  After practicing architecture for a while in the States and traveling the world to see how people deal with issues that are dear to me, I would like to return to Uganda, start an architectural firm, and be part of an infrastructural revolution that will see the capital city change from the chaos it is today to a sustainable and well-organised complex. Because of its fast-growing economy, Kampala has a high rate of urbanisation with lots of settlers moving for several reasons. This has resulted in the development of informal settlements, or slums as we call them.

My passion is to engage design and planning professionals to eradicate these slums and replace them with organised, appropriate, cost friendly, and sustainable housing. Alongside this, I would like to start a program that will assist the smart but disadvantaged young people of my country to apply for colleges abroad and also fundraise for their sustenance.

“I want to be sure to tell the story of my process. I would really love to inspire people, but lasting inspiration doesn’t arise from the end results – it’s about the road!”