Keith Kibirango | Senior philanthropy advisor and fundraiser
Having grown up amid the violent civil warfare that rocked Uganda for many decades, perhaps it is no surprise that young Keith Kibirango would pursue a career pathway intricately linked to the causes of social justice and the welfare of children.
Several years later, Kibirango is now a senior philanthropy advisor and fundraiser in the London office of the Save the Children - the independent children’s support organisation.
Kibirango, a Master of Laws graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), recalls growing up near the capital city of Kampala at a time when his family often had to “move from home to home because of the insurgency around our village”.
“We got into a position where we relied at times on support and handouts of food - sugar, cooking oil and flour - from charities and non-government groups…so I think that period of about five years changed the way I looked at things.”
“My mother had three children and my father had 12 children, but I grew up in my mother’s home with two siblings and she had to work that much harder to support us financially – including making clothes or baking cakes after-hours.”
Despite this financial struggle, Kibirango said his mum made sure her children got into good schools and universities.
After his initial law school studies at Makerere University he began work with FIDA Uganda, an NGO providing legal aid to disadvantaged women and children.
But he had set his sights on doing his Masters and soon emerged as the top student among a group of hundreds of LSE scholarship applicants from Uganda. After moving to London in 2005 he continued his work in the charity sector for groups such as the human rights and law non-profit group Justice, the Ark education academy and the babies’ charity group Tommy’s.
Early last year he joined the London office of Save the Children, the century-old independent NGO that provides relief and support to children around the world – most recently, by providing emergency assistance to displaced children and other victims of the devastating tropical cyclone Idai in Mozambique.
Ironically, he notes, the nature of his fundraising work and regular travel to Africa has meant that he rarely spends time with the programmes that Save the Children supports.
“I’m too busy looking for funding – not in the sense of shaking a bucket around, but rather trying to build lasting relationships with supporters to sustain our work across the region in the future.”
What are some of the skills required to raise support in an increasingly competitive global environment?
“You need a lot of patience and relationship management skills to bring people along on a journey. You need to be clear, and to listen carefully to hear which areas people would like to be involved in and to keep building new introductions that will help save millions of lives.”
Apart from his advisory and fundraising role at Save the Children, Kibirango also leads The Fight Against Malnutrition Appeal, working to raise resources to address acute malnutrition that hinders the education, growth and protection of children across the globe.
What are his hopes for Africa’s children?
“That’s a million-dollar question. But, yes, I’m hopeful. There is a sense of energy and optimism and such great interest in things that are for Africa, by Africans.”
Keith works alongside Africa Legal co-founder Scott Cowan on the Africa Advisory Board for Save the Children.
Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. Founded in 1919 they are in their 100th year of defending and upholding children and their right to survive and thrive. To find out more about how you can support click here.
Award winning journalist Tony Carnie has covered stories across the globe for more than 30 years. He lives in Durban, on the east coast of South Africa.
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