Let me introduce some of Uganda’s young, female heroes to you. While the list could much be longer, I will mention but a few, in the interest of space. Please meet Amina, Betty, Lilian, Sharon, Joy and Mother Jocelyn – strong young woman, who are smart, skilled and driven. I met them last month and spoke to them all at length. They were beaming with confidence, excited to make a difference and talked about their very personal sense of purpose. Last but not least, please meet Peruth Chemuthai, winner of Kids of Africa’s last Run for Fun and first-ever female Ugandan Gold medallist at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
Let me introduce them in alphabetical order.
Meet Aminah Mirembe (19)
Before joining Kids of Africa, Amina and her sister Aisha had a rough start into life. They were never spoon-fed, to say the least. Alas, in many ways, she has outgrown herself. If the truism that a bad start into life can strengthen you, then she’d prove it. Today, Amina stands firmly on her own feet. What’s more, she has high hopes for her future, she takes responsibility and increasingly she wants to have a real, lasting impact.
At Kids of Africa, she thrived on love. Well, actually, most that’s true for most of our fosterlings. In talking to our teenagers during my recent visit to Kids of Africa, I was surprised how often they mentioned this – it’s not a typical teenager-thing, is it? But it’s another way of saying “Because we believe in them”.
Click here to watch Amina speak about her future.
For sure, her good Mother Jocelyn believes in Amina – and the two love each other dearly.
Meet Betty Kirabe (16)
Betty is only 16 years of age but she’s already working on writing her first book, called “Girl Power”. It’s a book about how girls can change the world – and how her world has changed for good.
Betty is a positive thinker, a natural leader and a careful observer. “Sisters”, she told me during my recent visits, “are often the most competitive relationship within a family. But when they grow up, theirs become the strongest relationship.” I was struck by her sense and sensitivity. Seems to me that two years of quarantine have done little if any harm to a strong person like her. As she explained what’s driving her book-manuscript she quoted Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Of course, Betty looks forward to her future. While she and our small village have lived in quarantine for the last two years, she is not one to despair, or give up. I asked her how the lack of schooling has affected her and her friends. She replied that they lack academic knowledge, but that their teacher always taught them that it’s more important to learn how to think – not what to think.
I have nothing to add to that
Let me, finally, quote from the first page of her book manuscript:
“A girl in the world
Is a wonderful thing
She can do most anything
She puts her mind to
She can write a book
She can change the world
She can stand-up tall.
She is beautiful
She is strong
A girl in the world
Is a wonderful thing.”
Watch Betty and her friend Melissa Nalwang sing and perform at one of our parties – as you know Kids of Africa likes to work hard and party hard 😊.
Betty & Melissa singen im Video.
Meet Lilian, Sheila, Sharon, Joy and mothers
Let me also introduce Lilian, Sheila, Sharon, Joy and their mothers. If I had the space, I could dedicate a full chapter to each of them. As I could for each of our fosterlings. Because we believe in them. And because they all have powerful stories to tell. But instead, I shall let some snapshots to the talking.
Why do I call them heroes? Because they all act like role-models. They share a strong sense of belonging and are already changing the world for good. Imagine how much more they can achieve when they move on?
Meet Peruth Chemuthai –A Winner is a dreamer who never gives up
Peruth Chemuthai made history becoming Uganda’s first female gold medallists winning the 3000 steeplechaser run at the Tokyo Olympics. Peruth knows Kids of Africa well. Even as one of Uganda’s leading athletes she chose to join Kids of Africa’s annual Run for Fun – at least the last-one before the lockdown. Which, of course, she won. She’s the best illustration of Nelson Mandela’s quote: “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”
I wish you a wonderful first Advent.
Your Burkhard Varnholt