There are very many lessons I learnt while I was growing up. Most of these lessons were meticulously delivered by parents who seamlessly switched from kind, peaceful, loving humans to ruthless no-nonsense disciplinarians whenever the need arose. One of the most profound lessons I ever did learn from them was and is the lesson of generosity – a lesson which to this day continues to be the cornerstone of my entire existence.
Naturally when I am making friends or associating with people, I am drawn more and more to people who are generous. Generosity is a virtue that I hold in very high regard. It therefore comes as no surprise that I am a proud member of Forty Days Over Forty Smiles Foundation – a group of Youth who have taken generosity to a whole new level. On 19th April, the Foundation opened a Dormitory at Happy Times School in Luwero district. The dormitory will house 210 children who have otherwise been sleeping in less than admirable conditions. The completion of the dormitory was something that was top on 40/40’s to-do list and once this was done, it came naturally that we had to celebrate with the children, teachers and community at large. We therefore hired two coasters, filled them with generous individuals and set off for Luwero.
When a Ugandan sees the word ‘Luwero’ they are most likely to associate it with a bush or a struggle or a bush struggle or a struggle in a bush. This time round, this story has nothing to do with any of those words. It is a story of love, kindness, charity, generosity and above all – the power that the Youth possess – it is a story of the lessons I learnt from the Luwero trip.
Little Building Blocks
If there is anything that we have learnt as the Youth of 40/40, it is that everything starts small. When the idea of building a Dormitory was first fronted, it could very easily have been dismissed because let’s face it – none of us earns anything substantial to confidently say we can build a dorm on our own. However, the Youths at 40/40 are the kind that are wired to meet challenges head-on. The plan was to collect whatever we could amongst ourselves; and then ask friends, family, well wishers, past girlfriends, neighbors, random stalkers, colleagues, former bosses, ex-boyfriends, OBs and OGs and anyone else to chip in with whatever they could. We also organised a few fun events to help us raise the funds to be able to complete the dormitory. Several months later the dream was realized and as we made the trip to officially open the Dorm on Saturday, we were secretly shocked that we had actually managed to do it. The lessons that have been learnt from this whole experience include among others that even a coin of Shs. 500 can do quite a lot …if put together with another coin. Each of them is a building block. Great achievements are simply but a series of little achievements put together over a period of time.
One small deed today will mean a whole world to a child
(photo by Echwalu Edward)
Love Is Precious
A profound lesson I have learnt from my work with 40/40 is that Love is probably the greatest gift one can offer another human being. True, a blank cheque, a ticket to the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil or an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii are close contenders but overall, Love is quite something. While in Luwero, I noticed many of the children beaming with smiles; smiles that for a very long time they had not been able to afford because some of them felt unloved. When a child is abandoned by its parents and it relies on handouts and well wishers for survival, any love that is accorded to it is a real treasure. Of course a toy here, a plate of food there and an exercise book would be wonderful as well but anything done without love is as good as useless. It was therefore no shock that many of the people who made it to Luwero for the dorm opening were guilty of spreading plenty of love – the children were hungry recipients of the love.
(photo by Echwalu Edward)
Positivity Beats Negativity
The year is 2014 and the Youths of Uganda have decided to take matters into their own hands. Previously, a lot of noise was made about how the Government is not doing this or not giving us that or keeping the other from us; now we have decided to step out and get things done. The call to action is something that every able bodied youth should adhere to not just because we have the brains and human resource but because we owe it to ourselves to rise up and get things done. Complaining is not going to take us far – matter of fact, it will not get us anywhere other than where we are. It might get some folks elected into power, it might make others rich but it will not change the state of affairs. What will change the state of affairs will be what we as the Youth decide to do. A child who is unable to attend school will probably benefit more from an exercise book you buy for them than the all the condemnation you direct at the Government. True, the government might be guilty of not getting certain things done but that should not stop you from going out of your way to help a child who is lacking. Positivity beats negativity any day, any time.
(photo by Echwalu Edward)
Call to action
The purpose of this blog post today is to call the Youth to rise up and start to become more responsible individuals. We are often guilty of observing affairs from the distance and carrying around the title of ‘Tomorrow’s leaders’ but the truth of the matter is that tomorrow is already upon us. Our time is now! One does not need to build a dorm for their change to be felt. It begins with you as an individual. ‘Be the Change You Want to See in the World’. The beginning is for one to be a better person because this is the only way you will help those around you to become better people. You can be a part of the Youth Revolution by offering counseling and guidance to special groups of people, donating to charity some old items you no longer use, encouraging people to live healthy lives, fronting educational causes, championing community development and not getting yourself locked up in jail (a predicament that many youths are sadly finding themselves in). There is a world of things you can do as a member of the Youth Brigade. At the end of the day, we need the world to realize that the Youth in Uganda are not just numbers; we are force to reckon with – a force that is ‘powerful beyond measure’.
This is what the Youths can do if they put their minds to it!
“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.” ― Herbert Hoover
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