Simple and kind-hearted. At 28, Hadijja Kigozi is a presenter and chief executive officer (CEO) of Kyeyo Updates, a YouTube channel show that shares the experiences of people in the diaspora.
Kyeyo could loosely be translated to mean menial jobs done by Ugandans abroad. Kigozi’s journey abroad started three years ago after a relationship heartbreak. She decided to move on to work hard and raise her son, as a single mother.
“It was very hard for me to move around to fend for myself and my little one. Many people would look down on me as a failure. I roamed around town for a period of six months,” she recounts.
She couldn’t find meaningful survival in Kampala. She weighed her options and decided to focus her energies towards finding money to facilitate her search for a new beginning in Dubai, a port city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
When Kigozi got there, her beginnings were humble. “It wasn’t easy for me to make it here as well. I started as a housemaid in a village called Alain Umgahafar for a period of six months. My boss laid me off as they wanted to migrate to the UK.”
However, she gave her a chance to look for another job and not to go back to Uganda. Kigozi had told her employer that she was a single mother of one. She stayed, hustled for another six months until she got another job.
For the while, her mind was not in one place, every time she looked at her supervisor’s children, her mind went to her own, a son she had left behind at only eight months. The psychological torture was sometimes deep.
“I got new a start as a cleaner and because of my good English, I was later promoted as a clients’ attendant,” she recalls. She attended primary school at Emiti Emito Kanyanya, Gayaza in Wakiso District.
She then joined Mbogo Mixed Senior Secondary School and later attained a Bachelor’s of Library and Information Science. As a supervisor, she got space to enrol for a short course in digital marketing in Dubai.
It has taken her hard work and discipline to rise from a cleaner to something better. It is job she had seen many Ugandans do in different places and companies.
“We could work 12 hours a day for a single shift from 9am to 9pm. I was supposed to look after the whole big clinic, disinfect, clean the glasses and wipe everything every after 10 minutes. I could spend a lot of time in the toilet because many people would use the toilet so they required serious cleaning and disinfecting,” she recollects.
She did this on a probation period of eight months. She re-applied with the same company and was later given a job as clients’ attendant. The new job placement came with a reduction in working hours, from 12 to nine hours.
She welcomed, sat and registered clients. From then on, she got a peace of mind, and time to think and make a plan for her media channel.
In a period of six months, she made a plan to start the platform. HK Media currently gives updates on the lives of the people in diaspora through YouTube, the Kyeyo Updates.
“I want Ugandans at home to be aware of what happens here through my YouTube channel and all my social media platforms. I ask Ugandans how they survive. They tell me how they miss their families and make suggestions how people can use their lockdown period productively,” she explains.
The satisfaction is that many people can relate with her story and find hope.
“When things get tough I always look back to where I have come from. I am not yet where I would like to be but it at least gives me hope for standing tomorrow. I have learnt to work hard and develop a positive mind towards everything. The world is big and everything is possible if you give yourself a chance,” she further explains.
Her advice to a Ugandan pondering going for kyeyo is they need to do research about the country they would like to go to, know their goal before travelling then evaluate what they can or can’t do.
“If you have friends abroad, ask them about the situation in the country where you’re going, make research about the different jobs, get the right connection because many companies have told girls that they are taking them to work as waitresses and later they have turned out to be maids in people’s homes,” Kigozi advises.
She advises that it is also important to make a financial plan because kyeyo life is so expensive. One needs upkeep to cater for transport, food and rent.
“You need to have determination. In case of any changes, be flexible to do any available job as long as it gives u some money,” she adds.
On her wish list is a plan to grow into a big personality and media brand. “I wish to travel and cover the lives of all people in diaspora around the globe,” she adds.