The Grand Finale of the Miss Uganda pageant is held in one of Kampala’s best hotels, in an oasis protected by heavy concrete barriers, winding gated driveways and armed guards. Brenda Nanyonjo, the pageant’s CEO, approves of the hotel’s security. Six years after sustaining shrapnel injuries in the Kyadondo attack, she still struggles with hypervigilance when around crowds of people. 
On 11 July, Brenda was still registering the first blast when the second exploded, and she felt what she thought was warm water running down her face. Shrapnel had pierced her jaw and scalp. It was weeks before she could talk or laugh again while her jaw healed, and terrible headaches continue still. She left her job while she was healing, and prayed for direction. “Empowering the girl child, that’s my passion,” she says. She sought out the Uganda license for the Miss World pageant and threw herself into the work as the pageant’s CEO. She and the young pageant competitors travel the country on behalf of NGOs that focus on keeping girls in school, preventing teen pregnancies, and encouraging young women to embrace agriculture as a business. “I keep on wondering, if I lose my life, will I have impacted as many girls as I can?”


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