150 Profiles: Lama Mugabo

As a way to mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist profiled Canadians from across the non-profit sector and put a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector. As 2017 drew to a close, we published our final profile of 2017 — reaching our target of speaking with 150 people! The Philanthropist recognizes that Canada’s history did not begin 150 years ago. And it will continue beyond 150 years. In this spirit, we will continue to profile people in the non-profit sector throughout 2018.

Name: Lama Mugabo

Current role in the sector: Community Organizer and Researcher at the Carnegie Community Action Project in Vancouver, BC.

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 25 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
In 1988 I worked for the United Nations Association as a presenter for the African 2000 High School Participation Program. Canada had a lofty idea that it would help eradicate poverty in Africa by 2000. We tailored the presentation on the Brundtland Report, arguing that development and environment are two sides of the same coin and it behooves us to protect the environment, so that we leave the earth in a better state than we found it for the benefit of future generations. Students could get involved by starting a club at the school or volunteering locally or globally.

Describe your desk/workspace.
Currently, I share an office with several people. It’s a very busy office with limited space. We have two computers and printer. We use the office for meetings but when I want to write I go to the library, work from home or return when there is no one else in the office. In these days of internet and mobile phones, I’m not confined to a desk and office. I have the freedom to work virtually. Most of my work is out in the community talking with people, meeting and strategizing.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I was captivated by Barack Obama’s writing and work as an organizer before he became a politician. I followed his work and was impressed about his commitment to social justice and working with vulnerable populations that are impacted by poverty and policies that undermine the rights of those who are at the bottom of the social economic order. I’m not yet on Twitter but I read quite a bit when I can make the time.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
The sector needs to be thinking about inclusion and capacity building. There are a lot of people who fall between the cracks because they made unwise decisions in their lives. Very often their ability to bounce back from these adversities has a lot to do with their connections. Not so much what they know, but who they know. I’m currently working with people of African descent who reside in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They have a number of serious issues that are not addressed because of the cultural challenges: language, culture, fear of the other, stigma, or ignorance.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com


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