Champion of Local Democracy: Sister Margaret Atieno Osogo

“I am inspired by the fact that others through history have worked hard to make the world a better place for me to live in. It is now my turn to do good for others!”. We are honored to present Margaret Atieno Osogo, in our series of personal portraits of people who are playing a significant role in the development of local democracy where they live.

Sister Margaret has been involved in Municipal Partnership Programme for a long time and is coordinator for the Härryda-Homa Bay Partnership. She holds politicians and officials responsible for their actions and decisions in an incredibly inspiring way. She defends children and young people’s democratic rights with beaks and claws. In addition, she is an incredibly happy, warm and humorous person, a real character to get to know.

This is her own story:

I was brought up in a poor but loving family of eight sisters and three brothers. As I grew up I never let go of love and chose to devote my life to be a humanitarian power in my community. I was born on Mfangano Island which is a little island in the middle of Lake Victoria. Today I am 57 years old and have left the island to become a rock in the community. I have dedicated my life into helping vulnerable people, especially children. I have tried hard to fight for their rights because I don´t understand why some people are mistreated. I can be upset when regulations discriminate children.

I would say that I have an outgoing personality and I easily connect with people. I am energetic, not stubborn but always strict on rules and I stand by policies and regulations. I am a highly disciplined person because in life, discipline is at the core of co-existing with others. Above all, I like to interact and connect with others.

After high school I joined a convent and became a nun. Afterwards I worked as a teacher for eighteen years before going back to school to study social work, where I received a degree in Sociology and Anthropology, majoring in Sociology. Motivation comes to me when the work I do is meaningful and fulfilling. I have a unique fire in me to do good. I am very creative. And this motivates people around me.

Working with youth and children

Since 2016 I have been engaged in the project ‘The right to influence for children and youth’. Its aim is to improve the knowledge of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and to engage more young people in local democratic work in both participating municipalities. This project reaches the world in different ways with different topics of collaborations. My work has been about the children´s rights, their participation and connections with the politicians.

ICLD has created a platform of great transformation and joy. On a personal level, it is a given to provide shelter for homeless children, and over the years I have opened my home to hundreds of children. At present, I am the community’s coordinator in ICLD’s municipal partnership between Härryda and Homa Bay. I hold politicians and service providers accountable for their actions and decisions.

It is at times difficult to work with different cultures, locally and internationally. What one may be thinking is viewed differently by another. Also, it is tough to be exposed to a society with a suffering population and have a feeling of little or nothing to offer them.

Malin Fogelström, Sister Margaret’s counterpart in the project, has shared how inspiring it is to work with Margaret:

“She makes everyone feel important. Not only those she works with but also the youth. She sees them as our future, and above all, that they are important to our society today, right now. She listens very carefully to our needs and takes great care in ensuring that there is a mutual learning. She organizes meetings where we not only learn about democracy, influence and participation for young people, we also get to learn about the little things, something respectful happens when our cultures meet”.

Malin can testify that Sister Margaret in her caring, loving way makes a difference:

“She is an absolutely fantastic person who has her heart in the right place. She is so committed and passionate about human rights and she wants to give youth the place they deserve in society.”

Sister Margaret is an important person for many, especially for orphans. She embodies her commitment, she sees everyone and cares without discrimination. What does she see in the future?

A better world that is run by people who can create a platform of dialogue. ICLD makes it work not only in bigger cities but in the remotest villages where there is a great need for this.

To see all personal portraits of Champions of Local Democracy