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Uganda: A tribute to the late Joan Rwabamanzi Ejangu, 1953-2008

©UNICEF Uganda/2007/Keihas
Joan was a champion for gender equality and empowerment. Here, she is participating in an UNGEI community education committee meeting in Amuru District, northern Uganda, 2007.
23 October 2008 - It is with great sadness that we, the staff of the UNICEF Uganda Country Office, announce the passing, on 15 October 2008, of Ms. Joan Rwabamanzi Ejangu, Education Officer, Moroto Zonal Office.

Our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, have been with Joan’s family during this difficult period.  We share in their loss.  But knowing also the joy she brought to so many, and the kind of personal passion and professional dedication she exhibited during her work with UNICEF, it is only fitting that we share with you this tribute to a beautiful life.

To say that the expansion of the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) and the Girls’ Education Movement (GEM) in Uganda was achieved through Joan’s perseverance, creativity and energy would not be an exaggeration.  Joan was fully engaged in the national “Go to School, Back to School, Stay in School” campaign in 2007 and 2008 – which you may have read about in these pages – and also played a leading role in the humanitarian response, supported by UNICEF, during the devastating floods of 2007 in eastern Uganda.  In these and other instances, those who worked closely with Joan – old staff and new staff – got to know her warmth and generosity.

Joan was called to be a teacher.  Education was much more than just a job to her.  To educate, and to ensure that children and young people were educated, embodied a life-calling that drew from her a strong and abiding commitment.  In her own words, she said, “I want to engage in work that provides opportunities to contribute to the overall development of education in Uganda, and also fulfills my personal passion to champion the rights of all children, especially girls, to education.”

We remember Joan as being totally dedicated in everything she did.  She remained always a teacher at heart, wanting others to benefit from her own life’s lessons.  She was constantly mentoring, coaching, advising and teaching young people and colleagues, even when her working hours were long and office demands were stressful.  There was always time in her life for others, and in this she was a true role model.

Click here to read the full text of the tribute to Joan Rwabamanzi Ejangu.


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