The Journey of Discarding My Old Eyes: My Humphrey Year

Agness Mumba, Zambia, 2015

My Humphrey year taught me that working in silos and without embracing coordinated efforts, we cannot achieve much in development practice. I was enrolled in the Humphrey program at the time when donor funding was dwindling for managing NGOs. My organization was on the verge of closing down due to stiff funding competition and we had just scale down staffing levels from 36 in 2013 to 16 by 2015. My course works “Team Building and Addressing Global Grand Challenges” made me start re-thinking partnerships and inter-disciplinary.

My professional affiliation with the Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin Ryan White Program, my Community Program with College De Page where I interacted with NGOs working with teen mothers, and the skills workshop in Strategic Planning provided the motivation and skills I needed to re-design my organization’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan upon my return. In the past, the organization’s Strategic Plans were developed by consultants at a huge cost, but after my Humphrey year, I saved the organization huge sums of money using the skills I had gained. I was also able to blend in HIV Education into our education and gender programming, leading to the organization raising the sum of US $ 1,142,321 in 2017 alone. This was through a USAID funding partnership with Pact world under the Flag “Zambia Community HIV Prevention Program” and another Partnership with World Vision International (Zambia) under the “Stop GBV Program”. By December 2017, staffing levels in my organization had increased from 16 to 24 members signifying organizational growth.

I must confess that before my Humphry year, I never imagined myself as a credible candidate for a PhD Research. I questioned how I could come up with a PhD proposal. I am thankful for the enabling learning environment and positive coursework feedback which I got from one of my Professors who said to me “I think you can make a good PhD candidate”. That was the spark I needed to ignite my interest in furthering my studies. By the time I was winding up with my Humphrey year at the University of Minnesota, I had received massive support in developing my PhD proposal which was proof-read by my Humphrey Coordinator at the University of Minnesota and supported me throughout my PhD application process. I could not think of this opportunity materializing without the Humphrey fellowship program. Today, I stand proud and thankful for the Humphrey Fellowship Program for giving me the necessary motivation, support and space to re-think my programming skills and consider furthering my studies. I am now a full-time PhD Researcher at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, fully funded by the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Programme. I focus on Youth Sexuality Education and Young Motherhood.