For two decades, Humphrey alumna Agnes Igoye has worked to combat human trafficking. Drawing on her own experience as a survivor of trafficking as an elementary school student in a Displaced Persons Camp in Uganda, she is a passionate advocate for survivors of trafficking. Agnes became involved in anti-trafficking initiatives in the United States during her 2011 Humphrey Fellowship in Minnesota. There, she participated in state task force meetings and strategic-planning sessions with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. She also pledged her commitment to counter human trafficking as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.
After returning home to Uganda, Agnes continued her efforts by raising awareness and supporting counter-trafficking initiatives in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. She trained over 1,500 law enforcement personnel around the world to identify, investigate, and rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking. Her travel to the United State has included visits to New Jersey and Colorado, where she connected with law enforcement and spoke at schools, rotary clubs, and colleges, including the U.S. Air Force Academy. Agnes later founded Huts for Peace, a community-based initiative for women who have suffered gender-based violence as a result of armed conflict, and with her sisters, spearheaded the Chain of Hope Rehabilitation Centre to provide shelter and education to war victims. She built another center, Dream Revival Center, to rehabilitate female survivors of transnational human trafficking.
Her commitment to education extends to her volunteer work delivering over 92,000 books through the Books for Africa program to vulnerable communities in Uganda and as a member of the Ugandan Board of Sister Schools, which has donated more than one million pounds of supplies to Ugandan children. And although she is thousands of miles away, Agnes hasn’t lost her connection to Minnesota. She is an active participant in the University of Minnesota’s Global Mentor Program. She mentors second-year students, providing insight on professional development and networking. She has also supported Humphrey fellows at Boston University, including serving as their 2017 commencement speaker.
Agnes is among Uganda’s most active and accomplished alumni. She is particularly skilled in bringing people together and served as the National Coordinator of the Uganda-U.S. Exchange Alumni Association. In 2016, she conducted a photo essay camp for young survivors of human trafficking, incorporating other exchange program alumni, including six Mandela Washington Fellows, as technical experts and team leaders. She is also a team member for the 2016 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project “Tackling Child-Trafficking through Creative Arts,” which uses community theater and documentary film to address trafficking issues. She even thought to connect with other Humphrey alumni while on business travel to Malaysia in 2014, finding them through the International Exchange Alumni website. After their meeting, she returned home to share their best practices and enthusiasm for the exchange alumni community with Ugandan alumni.
Agnes attributes her success to the doors her exchange experience has opened for her. In addition to her professional achievements, she notes the importance of building and connecting with networks. She has particularly enjoyed hosting American students and colleagues travelling to Uganda for research and vacation in order to maintain long-lasting friendships and build her social network. She says, “It also helps that I often connect socially as well as get valuable advice from Humphrey Fellows and other State alumni in countries that I travel to, for work or holiday. It is a big global family!”