A 40-year-old Ugandan mother of five, Doreen Kajumba, has shared her life struggles of how she battled divorce, swished from an accountant to an Uber driver and is now an activist in Canada.
Kajumba left her native country of Uganda for Canada in 2017 because she, according to her, did not feel safe due to a divorce case and battle over property.
“I would go to work with a swollen face and I feared telling people what I was going through. Sometimes when we fought (with my husband), I asked for days off with no excuse and soon my performance started to decline,” the Daily Monitor quotes the former accountant at the British High Commission as recounting.
At a point in her struggles, she took a firm decision to bounce back in life. She had already quit her job and had taken a break from her troubled marriage.
The now activist said low self-esteem had set in because of her troubles at home, hence her decision to resign. Today, she is a student at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, studying to become a community worker.
Kajumba took a break from the marriage for further studies in Canada in 2015 where she spent 12 months.
“One morning we had an argument at home. Before I left for work at one of our workshops in Ntinda, he found me there and beat me mercilessly right in front of my workers. I reported the case at Ntinda Police Station and he was briefly detained,” she recounted, with emphasis that that was her turning point.
She had to start life again and so filed for a divorce and left Uganda for Canada again in 2017. She started working as a taxi driver with internet transport company Uber. She said she earned some income between CAD$250 and CAD$300 a day. Since that job was mainly for immigrant workers in the country, Kajumba was “fine” working, however, she had challenges locating places. She later mastered how to use the GPS (Global Positioning System).
She also faced problems being a woman. “Many people don’t expect this kind of job to be done by women, so my clients would come in and say ‘hi sir’. Whenever I replied, they apologized but I was ready for this, so it didn’t bother me.”
Over time, the now permanent resident of Canada decided to help those who had been in a similar position as her, having already been involved in small-scale activism earlier in life.
“It had been my dream to do GBV (gender-based violence) activism because I am a survivor and I wouldn’t want anyone to pass through what I went through. But because I needed to do this for my whole life, I needed to do it right. I learnt how things are done around here, researched and realised that I could do it well after registering as a non-profit or charity.
In 2020, Kajumba registered Tooro’s Pride Foundation as a non-profit organization in Canada to help immigrants and refugees. Some of them had also survived gender-based violence.
Looking into the future, she decided to go for her children from Uganda. She has now turned her attention to an upcoming international summit on gender-based violence which will be held in Toronto and Ontario, Canada, in September.
“We shall showcase the voices of victims, have series of sessions from renowned advocates and activists of women’s rights and it’s the first, but it will be an annual event,” she noted.