Portrait: Hajjat Sebyala - “We cannot live a happy life if we do not fight for the environment”

“I urge all the women to protect the environment; plant a tree to remind you of this day and make it a vow to plant a tree on each and every other woman’s day so that we get a women’s day forest, and improve the livelihood as we protect our environment.”

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Hajjat Sebyala, with an avocado tree and a meritorious Services award from Makerere University Business School in recognition of her commitment to environment

“I always carry some trees with me wherever I go,” says Hajjat Sebyala. One day, in 2010, this love for the environment compelled her to ask Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan now fallen Nobel Peace laureate, how she could even do more to protect the environment. With great humility and open mind, the Ugandan ecologist who has also now won several accolades, is committed to defending both of ecology and women’s rights.

Hajjat Sebyala describes herself as multi-skilled. The Deputy board Chair of the Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda is actually the first professional female insurer in the country. She seats on the board of many organizations and institutions, including Uganda Railways, Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Makerere College School, Federation of Uganda Employers (Women executives Chapter), Kampala University Council, Makerere University Busness School Mosque etc. She is also a member of the Elders Forum of the Interreligious Council of Uganda. She is “happily married” to Mr. Sebyala for 30 years now, with three biological children and many others under their care.

As an international climate champion, Hajjat of trees, as she is commonly known, has been committed to defending the environment cause for about ten years now, besides her many other responsibilities: Director of Gomba Women Environment & Development Group, Director of Energiziing Solutions Ltd, professional manager and mentor etc. She repeats over and over again with a soft voice that she “loves interacting with people.”

She has set herself a clear objective of planting one million trees in her lifetime. She has earned herself another nickname, “Hajjat Green,” having already planted thousands of trees, and she is happy with the results:
“The women I meet tell me those trees and not eaten. Therefore, I encourage planting fruit trees which can generate income, create wealth and improve Health and the Environment,” she notes satisfactorily.

She was appointed among the 10 eminent Ugandan women at the Women Situation Room established to report incidents of election violence during the 2016 elections and in 2010 as climate change Ambassador for the British Council. Full of optimism, she promises, despite her busy schedule, to always respond to anyone who wishes to talk to her about protection of the planet, even in the middle of the night!

“We cannot live a happy life if we do not fight for the environment”, she says. This is why she tries by all means through her network to convince people to plant trees, and this is how she initiated the “greening Fridays” held annually since 2010 on the Second Friday of the Holy Month of Ramadhan when Imams talk about environment in the Mosques and distribute seedlings.

Even as she tries to convince people, one by one, on the dangers of global warming, the climate change champion remains a true mentor for many Ugandan, especially women. Wangari Maathai did warn her that many people would try to discourage her and that she should also endeavor to work with men.

Hajjat Sebyala goes to every public event (weddings, graduation, meetings…) with her hands full of trees. She prefers to give a living gift rather than something that breaks, like a glass. Even at marathons she runs with a tree in her hands. When going to conference, she does not forget to carry trees with her, sometimes to the amusement of the security guards who have to pass the trees through metal detectors.
And her message for women’s day was on a subject dear to her heart, the environment:

“I urge all the women to protect the environment; plant a tree to remind you of this day and make it a vow to plant a tree on each and every other woman’s day so that we get a women’s day forest, and improve the livelihood as we protect our environment.”

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Dernière modification : 14/03/2016

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