Ray Besiga A Personal Website

Pitti Immagine Uomo Florence 2014

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86

It's a beautiful weekend, sun is out and glad to be back in Kampala. Been meaning to write for a while, if only for the catharsis, but there is so much to write about I do not know where to start. However, I decided to write about the reason I ended in Florence in the first place. Pitti Immagine Uomo!

Pitti Immagine Uomo, a key international trade event showcasing men’s fashions and contemporary lifestyle trends is a big deal that I had never heard of until my great friend and rising jaggernaut in the Men's Fashion accessories industry, Adrian Azodi, founder of Monsieur Fox extended an invite. It was an incredible event showcasing excellence of the makers of exclusive products, brands that have redefined men's fashion, special projects presented by leading international designers and new talent.

I am a rookie or otherwise totally clueless person when it comes to fashion. I know nothing about the workings of the fashion industry but decided to head out into the unknown anyway. See what it's about. However, I was not ready for the spectacle that I witnessed.

It was the utimate showcase, not just in fashion, but in personal and professional branding. From men's wear of tomorrow.

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Afro-inspired fashion

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Sporty looks

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Men Need More Style

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Kenneth Cole

New talent and special projects. I'm looking at you Edmund Ooi and Orange Culture.

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Edmund Ooi

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Orange Culture

Now, the Pitti Uomo, in Florence, is dubbed the most complete, innovative and market-oriented presentation of for men’s fashions but that definitely did not leave the women out. They stole the thunder, IMHO, as always! Donning super chic dresses..

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Lady In Pink

Hanging out casually..

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Beautiful ladies

Or on duty..with one of my favorite brands this year, Desigual

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Desigual

And my absolute favorite, Hamaki-Ho

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Hamaki-Ho Photobooth

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Hamaki-Ho Photobooth

Looking forward to next year's!

10000 and Hennepin

So, I just returned from my second trip to Minneapolis, a thoroughly beautiful cyclist paradise and the largest city in Minnesota. It was such a wonderful cultural experience as this time I had to spend a much longer time on our business engagements than earlier anticipated. Our client, Starkey Hearing Foundation gracefully hosted us for a month as we worked on a highly impactful information system that would improve the efficiency with which they carry out hearing health missions in over 40 countries around the globe.

There is a lot to write about when churning through a myriad of new experiences, culture and surroundings. I have been thinking about how to share the experience without using up 30 paragraphs. One for each day. However, I realize that that is too cumbersome, even for the most avid reader. As such, I took to what I do best; finding a workable technology solution to my problem. And I did! It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I put together a series of photos that sum up my experience that past month, and put them on a map that is easy to navigate.

I used a lean and minimal piece of software that also happens to be open source. Please check out my story map below and leave comments, share thoughts, and let me know if there's typos in here.

Happy day!

Key Takeaways from 2013

Onwards.

Hey folks,

It's been a bit. Happy New Year! So, I thought to share a few lessons I learned from the past year, before the hype dies down and the takeaways evolve beyond the realm of 2013. They are in no specific order, and I warn you, I may rumble at times but here goes!

Emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned.

It is for this reason alone that I am sharing my experiences thus far. It's been a challenging year in which I quit my job to start Sparkplug but I have enjoyed every minute of the learning experience. The positive experiences kept me going forward, while I learned from the negative. I feel like a much better person now, which leads me to the next takeaway.

Do not stall.

Always have the fear of being complacent or stagnant. If you're no better than you were six months ago, something needs to change. Iterate, experiment and seek to make a better you. Invest time and energy in creating an optimal present and future for yourself. Needless to say, a better you translates to a happier you.

Be nice.

Do not go out of your way to displease others, especially as a way of projecting an image of strength. Be kind, and fair but always speak your mind. If there's one thing I have noticed, the most successful people, like Aamito, Beyonce, and Bill Gates to name but a few are humble, respectful but also speak honestly. It's a karma thing.

Do not give up.

I cannot overstate this. It speaks for itself. Go ahead and imagine Morgan Freeman reading this out loud to you. No one who ever gave up achieved anything. Dr. Arsene Wenger did not give up after guiding his club, Arsenal FC, to eight trophyless seasons. Here's to hoping he does not make it nine. Hehehe.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.Winston Churchill

Reflect.

Be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way. Don't get comfortable. Challenge yourself to think outside your box. Be hard on your opinions and perceptions. Polish them so that no matter what, they are mindful of others, but fully owned by you. This is one way I have learned to keep evolving myself without getting in anyone's way.

Spend time with yourself.

As it turns out, you will be surprised at how not boring you are. Its probable that you are not the most boring person you know. That said, I do not recommend a non-stop, one person party, but rather an opportunity to carve out "Heads Down" time. Rest yourself. And yes, you can be happy alone, as with others.

Play the long game.

If anything is worth getting into, you have to invest time, and not expect immediate results. Imagine is as a roller coaster, with all the thrills, highs and lows, in slow motion. And while you do it, celebrate the successes, learn from the failures, and enjoy growth, naturally.

Keep tabs.

Keep a journal, or something like it, and write down your experiences. Be original. Don't lie to yourself. Write about what you know, feel, see, think. It will serve as a reference when you gauge your evolution and growth at a later time. Think of it as a personal history archive, that is not Facebook. Hehehe

The investment in knowledge yields the best resultsBenjamin Franklin

Enhance your knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "The investment in knowledge yields the best results". He was a wise man, take his advice. Find the knowledge to fill the gaps in your skills, or feed your curiosity. In any case, you never know when that tidbit of information will win you a round of drinks at the next Trivia night!

Have a code.

Set rules and follow them consistently. Not that I have anything against unrestricted freedom, I just think its better to have bounds before limitless options become your indecision prison. Specifics bring clarify. Remember this though, the rules you make are yours to follow, not set for those around you.

I tire. That should be it. Happy Friday everyone! :)

A belated World AIDS Day message

Global Health Corps

Hey folks,

Sunday marked the 25th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. A day on which people worldwide unite in the fight against HIV, remember friends and loved ones lost, and laud humanity's efforts to combat the scourge. In many ways, it is a sign of maturity on my part that I get to remember this special day. I was not always this way. Heck, I hardly knew anything about HIV/AIDS, save from music by the late Philly Bongoley Lutaaya, the first prominent Ugandan to give a face to HIV/AIDS. And stories others told. The story of how I got acquainted with it begun about two and half years ago.

After a brief stint working in the telecommunications engineering field in early 2011, I was feeling largely uninspired, and bored out of my mind. I needed something challenging and exciting to channel my energy and time into. Baby-sitting a telco network was not gonna be it, I needed a career change. As luck would have it, I came across a random tweet about the Global Health Corps, a fellowship with the goal of mobilizing a global community of emerging leaders to build a movement for health equity. Sure, sign me up! Oh wait, I knew nothing about public health! Seems like they knew that majority of the applicants do not necessarily have a public health background, but they had a contingency plan. As it turns out, anyone who met the requirements could be a fit based on their personal and professional background.

There is no single experience, background, quality or skill that makes someone the “right” candidate for the fellowship. Rather, we are looking for outstanding individuals who are seeking to apply their skills and their passion for health equity to a lifelong community of global changemakers. Global Health Corps

First forward two months later, I'm a lecture hall at Yale University, Connecticut ready to learn the basic tenets of public health from some of the gloabl leaders in the field. Happiness! And as it turned out, I was sorrounded by some of the most inspired, engaged and intelligent people I have met yet. Even more happiness! Over the next two weeks, my mindscape was terraformed for public health (if that sort of thing can happen). I learned about social justice, empathetic design and medical anthropology from the field's great champions like Noerine Kaleeba and Ambassador Mark R. Dybul.

I mean, everybody should have access to medical care. And, you know, it shouldn't be such a big deal. Dr. Paul Farmer

I started to feel a change within me. I started to see the glaring need for equity, especially in access. Access, sadly, is about privilege. As a global community that forsook ourselves and turned from a market economy to a market society, access was inevitably going to be about inequality. Access to information, health, financial services. It's what defines the gap between the haves and have-nots.

I felt the need to do something. What could i do for the social justice cause? What could I do to alleviate the plight of those at the bottom of the pyramid? The lessons learned during my orientation period at Yale asserted that there was a role for me. I could make a wholesome contribution if my heart was set to it, and I believe I gave it my best. 12 months pf tough fulfilling work. Teaching health workers from all over rural Uganda how to use computers, and subsequently getting them to use an online learning management system for their continuous medical education. Designing prototype websites for my placement, the Infectious Diseases Institute. Contribution to a location-based web dashboard to track statistics of the Safe Male Circumcision campaign. These are but some of the activities I partook. I was happy, still am. However, this particular article is not about me, its about you. What can you do for the social justice cause, and the fight against HIV/AIDS?

Here's a few ideas, in case nothing comes to mind. DONATE! If nothing else, donate to causes that support people living with HIV/AIDS in your community. The AIDS Support Organization does great work for the positively living all over Uganda. Mildmay Uganda supports people in 18 districts around Uganda, including 500 children at their resident clinic. It is quite shocking, but care costs UGX 50,000 per child per day. That amounts to $10,000 per day in total. They could use some support.

If you are hands on, then I cannot recommend the Global Health Corps fellowship enough. The application process is now open and you should definitely take a look at the placements! It changed my career path and I am better for it. I now run a bespoke software development shop, but with a social justice mindset at the base of it all.

Global Health Corps

And lastly, on a personal note, we miss you Uncle Anselm. You succumbed to HIV/AIDS, but our memories of you are fresh as a roadside watermelon. I will do my part to ensure more people have access, building tools to that effect. I hope everyone else does their part too. Happy belated World AIDS Day everyone!