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Martha Osiro: I’m Devoted To Improving and Changing People’s Lives

The Executive Director of Enlight Health, Enlight Institute and Educational Institute Martha Osiro has said that she decided to devote her life to improving people’s health after she lost a grasshopper that she was taking care of as a child.

“When I was in P.3, I found a grasshopper and it had broken its leg and I wanted to fix it. So I put it in a bottle and fed it but it eventually died and from there, I just decided that I am going to dedicate my life to changing and improving people’s lives,” she said.

Growing up, Osiro developed an interest in being a language interpreter, however because of her family’s roots in science, she was prompted to join the same field under her father’s direction. She is now a manager and an overseer of doctors in healthcare systems.

During the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, Osiro said she felt compelled to take action in providing quick access to health services after a news piece she watched which showed a woman who had died while solely giving birth from her house after failing to secure means of transport to a hospital.

“I couldn't sleep that night because personally I lost five babies and I could only imagine what she was going through alone in the house. There was no way she could get to the hospital because everything was under lockdown without boda bodas or cars moving. Eventually, she died.”

Osiro continued, “So the next morning I called one of my friends, Dr. Joseph Kalanzi who had started out by providing emergency service vehicles. I told him that we needed to do something to save people's lives. I talked to him about creating an ambulance station that would coordinate their movements where people would call in and easily access ambulance services,” she narrated.

With support from friends, family and other partners, Osiro says they were able to construct the first ambulance station within a year at Naguru hospital in Kampala that provides emergency health services to people freely. Now, they are planning to construct more in the other 14 regions of the country.

Still as a way of giving back to society, Osiro started up the Enlight Educational Institution that she says aims at creating jobs for young Ugandans and improving production through imparting creative vocational skills.

“After visiting rural areas and seeing how access to education is different from other places in the world where I had attended school such as Kenya, the US and Canada, I thought of starting an international school but affordable to both rural and urban students in order to give them skills that enable them to create jobs and businesses.”

She added that after the Covid-19 lockdown on schools for 2 years, many children were not willing to go back to school because of the money they had started getting from their small businesses.

“So my idea was, why don't we skill them, professionalize them and start an industry? I applied for a grant with Signify Foundation and acquired a school that is now in Matugga. I also acquired money as startup capital for their businesses such that once they graduate, we can get them started. For example, we get a group of hairdressers and start a business for them, support them for the first six months, coach and mentor them in business. We are the only school doing this so far because I didn't want people to go back home and sit with our certificates but to get actual work experience.”

She added that another program they teach students is learning as they earn. “If there are hairdressers braiding and learning, they get an average of shs.2000, but shs1000 is saved. The amount is given to them after graduation so that when they leave school, they can use it to buy a dress or a nice suit for an interview. It's still in the pilot phase but it’s working,” Osiro said.

According to her observation, many people in rural areas are more disadvantaged, thus necessitating the concept of saving and putting their creative skills into practice. “If we slowly work on this together, we can transform communities,” she concluded.

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