Australia Awards Alumnus links entrepreneurial talent with community work in Uganda

Patrick Barugahare is making a difference on the ground in Uganda through his dedicated work in both the private and voluntary sectors.

“I value the charitable and community contributions I have been making in Uganda since my return from scholarship. It is a way of giving back to the community and sharing the benefits of my education and work experience in Australia,” explains Patrick.

After completing a Master of Law at Monash in 1988, Patrick returned to Uganda and established a law firm. “The firm makes a diverse development contribution to Uganda in its fields of action, in addition to being a vehicle of knowledge and skills transfer through training, employment, generation of income and taxes payable by the firm and our service providers,” Patrick explains.

Despite a demanding schedule typical of legal private practices, Patrick finds time to make positive contributions at other levels of society through his active charitable work. Patrick serves voluntarily on a number of boards of civil society organisations and has, through them, worked on several community development initiatives, the most recent of which is the Uganda Twezimbe Trust (UTT).

UTT was established by the African Development Foundation to pool monies repaid by project beneficiaries in Uganda and re-invest it in approved community projects selected by the UTT Board. Patrick is a member of the UTT Board and in that capacity participates in the evaluation and selection of projects eligible for UTT funding.

UTT is currently funding the construction of school buildings and water & sanitation facilities in the rural districts of Rukungiri (South Western Uganda) and Kamuli (Eastern Uganda). It has also completed the construction and equipping of a science laboratory block for Kyeibare Girls’ Secondary School in Mitoma District. This project is benefiting over 400 girls currently enrolled in the school. Access to such facilities, not available before, is expected to improve students’ performance in national examinations in science subjects.

Patrick is a successful example of how entrepreneurial talent coupled with solid legal knowledge can have a positive effect when applied to community-level initiatives. Moreover, he attributes his success in operating a law firm in Uganda—including recruiting, training and mentorship of young Ugandan lawyers in addition to participation in several legal reform studies—to the high level legal skills and knowledge gained from his studies and work experience in Australia.

On another front, Patrick played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Australia Alumni Association of Uganda (A3-U). The association, now entering its second year of operations, is a model and inspiration for a number of similar efforts springing up in other African countries.

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