Olive Nabisubi is an energetic and positive force whose passion brings a surge of life to CEDOVIP’s activism. Her time with CEDOVIP began when she joined Raising Voices, our partner organization. She has a special connection to SASA! as she was one of the original researchers who worked with the study. Even before the results were announced, Olive felt a calling to join CEDOVIP’s team. Now she is one of the faces of CEDOVIP’s community work, where she implements SASA! in different divisions that we work with.
Question: As always, I like to start with the basics. What did you study in school?
Olive: I studied development studies in school which is how I came to focus on violence against women. Development is closely related to violence against women. Gender dimensions within development was a research topic of mine. I researched how development has led to differences between the genders and the opportunities for different genders. For example, women receive different opportunities starting from their birth. There are many more opportunities for boys. Boys get to go to school so they can study and become a doctor. Boys get to study science. Girls get to be teachers, nurses, mothers, and housewives.
So did your studies lead you to CEDOVIP?
Not quite. I had to take a course, Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. That led me to working at my first workplace. I was an Ethnographer or a research assistant at Rakai Health Centers program. After my first job, I worked with Raising Voices where I was testing SASA! For the big study. After working on the study for 6-7 months, I learned about a job opening at CEDOVIP and I applied.
Since you started working with CEDOVIP, what has been your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was when we learned that SASA! was proven effective-- that it works. We worked on something that really impacts people’s lives and that was approved by an independent body.
Where were you when you found out about the results? What do you remember about that day?
We were at the office when the results were presented. I remember feeling fulfilled and inspiration to work more. I was part of the team that made this happen which gave us all the feeling that we matter. We are part of an organization that really is changing lives. It pushed me to work here even more. I understood that this is where I belong and it made me more passionate about the community work. Even the success that we have had, we still have relationships with the original CAs. Now I know that I am resourceful and have something to give and I can help. I have loved seeing the different, individual couples and how we have supported them. Especially seeing them happy. When the women we have helped call and tell us they are safe and happy, it is the best feeling.
What is your favorite thing about working at CEDOVIP?
Internally, it’s about the working environment. The CEDOVIP team is like a family. Everyone is so close. We have no hierarchies; it doesn’t feel like there is a boss because we are all at the same level. Anyone can openly talk about their feelings, and they will be respected and listened to. Everyone here will always have each other’s backs. It’s hard to find a place where everyone will be concerned about each individual like people are here. It really is a family. It is great working at a place with certain strong values like mutual respect.
Externally, it’s not about the money. It’s about how comfortable you are and how much your work is valued. I am the kind of person who gives. I love helping others. Before CEDOVIP, I worked in a film production company. It was interesting but we were mainly in the office. It was my first job. We had a lot of temporary research projects, but I knew very quickly that I didn’t belong there. I love going out and reaching out to people, not sitting at a desk counting money. That’s when I realized what work I wanted to do.
When I started working with Rakai, it was closer to what I wanted, but I still wasn’t getting the right fulfillment. We were just going into the communities, getting our data and coming back. Our hands were always tied. All we could do was say sorry. I knew I could do more. CEDOVIP showed me it isn’t about getting information, it’s about giving. Helping people understand violence and how to improve relationships. People are really changing from our efforts. So my favorite thing about working here is that I am doing what I feel like I am meant to do.
Which celebrity activist do you admire or respect the most?
Jamaal. He is passionate about uplifting and respecting women. He talks about what women go through almost as if he has firsthand experience. For him, it is not about singing, but about getting his message out. It is really easy to connect to his music, and not just for me. He talks about life experience so a lot of people identify with his music. Otherwise it’s the people I work with.
What colors represent your activism?
For me, purple is power. It is increasing the power within and it represents the power dynamics that we talk about in our sessions. I think I have orange in me, too. Orange has to shine; it has to come out. Activism should be felt. Orange has energy and stands out. It is recognized and shouldn’t be shut down.
We know that you are passionate about violence against women and girls. What other issues are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about stopping violence against children. So passionate that I fear working on violence against children because it is so draining.
Outside of the work that Raising Voices and CEDOVIP does, I am passionate about design-- anything visual. I love art, graphic design, pictures, crafts. I used to make cakes too. That’s why I love designing communication materials for CEDOVIP. I even weaved a moses basket for my baby with my partner [pictured below]. It was a good experience to learn more about my partner.