It is a year since we lost a galant fighter for the rights of women. Her name was Hope Turyasingura. She was a quintessential Mukiga – big heart and a big laugh and so full of energy! Hope was always smiling, always speaking out, always hoping for a better world for women.
One of a Hope’s main passions in life was working to reduce violence against women and she worked on this with all her might, both day and night. She was always animated about the issue of domestic violence. It was more than just statics, it was more than just a job to her. She felt from her heart and she gave from her heart. I remember, every once in a while, when we met, she would tell me about a new case she was working on, or a new community she was working with, to support them to find solutions against the vice. And she would speak with such urgency because she literally knew women’s lives depended on it. Every day we lost in fighting the battle against domestic violence meant a women harmed, meant a woman made homeless, and in the worst instances, meant death for a woman. And so she gave her life for this fight.
She traversed Uganda, spoke to and encouraged many women, taught many women and men to value women, to value themselves. She spoke on radio and TV, she used every platform she could to speak out against violence against women.
And in the midst of it, she got cancer and she battled as hard against it, as she battled for women. Every once in a while she would call me, tell me she was discouraged, tell me she was losing hope, and we would pray together, or I would just listen. And when we met I would hug her hard.
The last time I saw her was at a fundraiser that her friends had put together for her. She was seeking support to get treatment abroad. We gathered what we could. We made calls, we used social media to reach out, asking people to give what they could. We nearly collected enough, and then I heard the news that Hope had relapsed and was in hospital. She died before she could go abroad for treatment.
Her passing left a deep hole in our hearts and in the work against domestic violence. But her memory lives on and the work goes on.
Her last name – Turyasingura, means we will win, we shall overcome. And this is my prayer and hope – for cancer and for domestic violence – that we shall overcome both these vices that eat away at families and at our lives. We shall overcome. It’s only a matter of time. Let us give all we can and do all we can for those who have dedicated their lives to eradicating cancer and domestic violence.