My name is Sheila Kyobutungi. I came into this world on April 9th 1984. I was born and raised in a small town in South Western Uganda called Kanungu. Coming from a very humble background with six siblings, I was blessed to have parents that sacrificed everything they could to ensure that we got a decent education. I was enrolled in boarding school at the tender age of six and from then on, I begun to face the reality that many African children experience; education is a very big privilege.

As a child, I was always puzzled as to why what I believed was the most beautiful and gorgeous country in the world with the best climate, food, sceneries name it was always referred to as a third world country, it just did not make sense. However, latter many of my life experiences were to teach me the full jest of why countries like Uganda are indeed developing countries. Growing up in rural Uganda, I witnessed the frustration and despair that individuals go through due to various circumstances like generational poverty, health disparity, social-economic inequality, lack of education opportunities among others, many of which are a result of circumstances beyond their control. I always wondered if there was anything on the face of the earth that could change these harsh realities.

The turning point in my life was an experience I had at the age of 10. When I was about 10 years old and attending primary school, my best friend and neighbor was a girl named Kiconco. We thought we would grow up together, go to the same schools, and be the first female doctors in our village. Then Kiconco’s father passed away. Relatives claimed all their property, forced Kiconco’s mother out of the house, and advised her to look for another husband. Within a year all the children had dropped out of school. Kiconco was forced to marry at 15, and now she has four children who are not going to school. This sad experience inspired me to pursue a career in law; particularly human rights and property law, in order to help change circumstances like Kiconco’s that are prevalent in most of sub-Saharan Africa. I hope that one day I can avert the plight of disadvantaged women in developing countries, especially in my motherland having experienced the great adversity, despair, and frustration that women in rural areas go through-problems compounded when wide-spread poverty and ignorance prevent them from seeking legal advice.

Leadership Advancement International(LAI) has given me an opportunity that will not only act as a stepping stone for me to pursue and achieve my lifetime dreams and goals but also one which will eventually put me in a position to bring hope to many lives in Uganda. I am currently enrolled as a senior at Portland State University majoring in Pre-Law and Community Development. I am very humbled by the quality of education that I am getting, it is very practical we do a lot of projects within the community; I have had two awesome internship opportunities with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals under the UNDP and Progressive Health Worldwide that have changed my life. With LAI’s support I am experiencing the famous cliché “where there is a will there is a way” and for sure together we can bridge the divide-one leader at a time!!

Recent update:

Sarah Bwabye – Started her Master Degree in Public Health at George Washington University.
Before embarking on graduate work, Sarah worked as a Research Associate for a biotech company in Seattle. In her words:
“The focus of my work was on the use of adult stem cells in the regeneration of heart cells also referred to as cardiomyocytes. In a new proposed therapy, bone marrow stem cells from a patient are injected into the injured area of their heart in the hope that they will regenerate the damaged myocardial tissue. We worked on the improvement of this therapy. Working full
time in research was both very rewarding and challenging. I learned the tenacity and openness required for continual learning, regardless of experience level.”

I started in Leaders for Africa studying Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mathematical Physic for 3 years before leaving for a vocational discernment with the Legionaries of Christ. I have been a religious for more than five years. I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy last year, and now studying a Master’s Degree in Philosophy with a specialty in Metaphysics and Natural Theology in Rome. One of the mission of the Legionaries of Christ is formation of Leaders and I am very glad that there has not been discontinuity but rather a profound continuity in my formation for being a future leader for Africa. I am hoping to be dedicated to intellectual leadership and formation. Your support, generosity, and vision come with invaluable dignity.

James completed his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington last December, and returned to Uganda immediately after. It was great to spend time with family after being gone for some time. Time in Uganda also allowed him to see more clearly where the greatest needs are in the country. He has now come back to pursue a PhD, at Purdue University, studying Industrial Engineering. James’s time in Uganda confirmed to him that this is the right area of study for him at the PhD level.

I grew up in a fishing village called Bwerenga in Uganda, East Africa.  It is located thirty miles from the city centre and seven miles off the main road right at the shores of Lake Victoria. I am the first born with two siblings and my parents who are both ministers instilled in me a great sense of community service. They taught me to love God and to obey His commands and also to serve the community just as Jesus served. Living at a fishing village provided great opportunities for me to serve the community.

Fishing villages depend on fish as a source of income, but unfortunately due to draughts fishing is a quite unreliable income source. My parents started a non-profit organization to help the village and I volunteered in this organization where we collected clothing, furniture, food and any other durable items from the middle class living in the city and donated them to the needy in the neighboring fishing villages.  It was very touching to see the happiness on the children’s faces. Other donations came from the United States such as toys and books. During my high school vacations, I volunteered and helped at the village primary school. I assisted in the kindergarten and I also helped the children with their mathematics. It was a very satisfying experience helping the children to develop their talents and gifting. Many of the children were orphans who had lost their parents to AIDS and other diseases.

The nearest health center was six miles away from the village. It was extremely challenging to take a sick person to the clinic because they had to walk or be carried. In the most serious cases they would take them on a bicycle while the lucky ones could afford a motorcycle ride. These conditions made life more complicated for the patient. It would take one and a half hours to get to the clinic which also had insufficient medical supplies. As a result many would die because they could not get to the clinic in time or because of the lack of medication.

A tragic and life changing incident occurred to me at the tender age of eight.  I witnessed a young boy who was 12 years old lose his life after being bitten by a poisonous snake. He died because the villagers could not get a bicycle or motorcycle to take him to the hospital. It was very traumatizing and heartbreaking. Many women on the village would die during child birth and newborns would die because of poor hygiene.

As I grew up, such traumatic and heart breaking incidences concerning people’s health created a passion in me to help the sick and to improve and develop the health services in my country especially in the remote and rural areas.

Leaders for Africa appeals greatly to my goal of creating a postmodern world in my country. My academic goal is to study Public Health and eventually work in public health to improve the health care in the rural areas of my country by providing medical supplies and also set up workshops for other medical personnel in the villages.

 

I was born in 1985 in Moroto district Karamoja where my parents were stationed for work. Four years later we relocated to Lira and my father has worked there since then as the Officer-In-Charge of Agricultural mechanization, and my mother as a primary school teacher. Lira district, the birth place of Milton Obote the former president of Uganda has had more than its share of armed conflict. In the past 25 years, the region suffered a bloody conflict led by Alice Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Movement, ongoing cattle rustling by armed bands, and more recently the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels led by Joseph Kony. This group is responsible for over 50,000 child kidnappings and over 2 million displaced people in the region.

My family, like all families in the region, has been directly affected by these conflicts, and my education suffered. Luckily, I left the region for school, but when I finished my A-Levels, my family could not afford to pay for my university education. I had to settle for a diploma in Civil Engineering sponsored by the government.

In 1996 the country and the world was shocked to learn that 139 girls had been abducted from their school in a district neighboring mine by the Lord’s Resistance Army. This incident had a profound psychological impact on the region, and for me it birthed a desire to work for the benefit of the most vulnerable in society. I joined an organization, Concerned Children and Youth Association (CCYA) in 2005 as a volunteer, to serve the most vulnerable children and youth who had lost their families because of the war, and many of whom had committed the killings themselves. This opportunity educated me more about the vulnerable people and their communities. After completing my diploma, I was blessed to land an engineering job, but my heart was so drawn to the vulnerable people and their communities, that I decided to give up my engineering career to serve these vulnerable communities full time.

I have the desire to serve, but as I have taken on more and more responsibilities in the organization, I have realized my need for additional education in the areas of community development. Unfortunately as a part time employee/volunteer of the organization, I could not afford to pay for the university training.

I am so grateful to Leaders for Africa for the opportunity they have given me to further my education in Community Development. I am inspired by the CCYA slogan that says “Every child and youth is my brother or sister”. I strongly believe that youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but leaders for today, and that for change to be effected, I need to be at the forefront. The skills I will gain after 3 years of training will expand my leadership abilities, and allow me to mobilize human and other resources to serve even more vulnerable people and communities. My goal is to serve in the best way possible, and to use my skills and experience to give those less privileged than I the opportunity to develop and succeed.

Thank you for your support along this journey.

 

I am Kolé Kenneth Arap Wasawas, the eldest of 8 children, born and raised in Eastern Uganda (Kapchorwa), about 150 miles from the capital city-Kampala. I have been involved in community service since high school through an organization, Development Companions International, which works to equip local Christian leaders to deliver holistic service to their communities.

I am a junior at Seattle Pacific University studying pre-medicine, and a double major in chemistry and philosophy. My aspirations are to work in the Uganda healthcare field, and in particular transforming healthcare.

Today many women in the rural areas like my village go through labor on their own without the help of any medical personnel. This leads to many children, like my sister, to endure lifelong health challenges stemming from labor complications. For many the news is worse; For every 100,000 live births, there are at least 435 maternal deaths. This translates to 6,000 deaths annually or 16 deaths daily. Equally high is the under-five and infant mortality rates which stand at 137 and 78 per 1,000 live births respectively. Kapchorwa, the region I was raised in, has a population of 200,000 and a “regional referral” hospital with only one doctor!

I am passionate about changing these statistics in Uganda either as a medical doctor or public health advocate.

As a student, I am involved with different organizations bringing services to rural East Africa.  I act as a consultant to Life seeds-Oregon, an organization which seeks to educate illiterate women in East Africa. I am also a board member of Development Companions International. I volunteer with Africa Communities Against Malaria (ACAM), an organization that helps with malaria outreaches in Kenya and Tanzania. I also lead a small Darfur advocacy group which works to raise awareness on-campus about the plight of the peoples of Darfur in Sudan. These volunteer and leadership opportunities have given me an opportunity to understand a lot more about the challenges on the African continent, but equally as import, the opportunity to address them.

I am grateful for the support many are providing me to allow me to make a difference in my community.

 

“I always knew and still know that my travelling and exposure will bring me back to one place, my home in Uganda where I can help”

I am fortunate to be a Ugandan born into a Catholic family of patriots with a love for culture. This has shaped who I am now and continues to help form the person I want to be. My father is a hard-working civil servant and my mother a teacher and a great instiller of cultural values. Together, they sacrificed so much to provide for my brother and I, and above all to give us a great education. In observing them every day, I saw their unwavering love and service to family, community, and everyone around them.
Watching my father work day and night contributing to the safety of Uganda motivates me and shows me that there is hope for the developing world. With leaders like him, leaders that have his resilience and positive attitude towards the future of our country, I know that there is so much the next generation can do to improve our country instead of just looking out for ourselves.

Ever since my childhood, I have always had a love for community service but I was never quite decided on what I would do when I grew up. All I knew very early in life was that I wanted to help people in some way. My peers often questioned me on why I did not have the ambition for making a lot of money, becoming rich and famous. I always felt drawn to serving others, especially those less fortunate than I, as opposed to earning heaps of money to spend on myself. This, together with my love for Uganda, led me to choose between being a soldier in the Ugandan army to defend my country, or to work in the medical field. Since I am not sure of my physical strength, I have chosen to follow the path of medicine where I can find ways to improve the health sector in my country. I want to encourage, and hopefully help build hospitals all over the country so that poor people around the country can gain access to good health care. Today all good hospitals are centralized in the capital city, and cater to those with means.

My earliest memories of community service go back to my childhood watching my mother taking our used clothes and toys to disadvantaged kids in the community. This planted a seed in me and in primary school I started participating in some fundraising events for children’s homes. For two years in high school, every Wednesday I taught homeless youth to read and write. I care deeply about all the community service causes I took part in, but none consumed my passion as much as the fight against Child Sacrifice. Child Sacrifice is the ritualistic killing of children in order to please, propitiate or force a god or supernatural beings in order to achieve a desired result. Working with my peers, teachers, and another organization, we raised enough awareness on this issue and petitioned parliament to pass a law specifically against Child Sacrifice in Uganda. Last year those efforts were rewarded in August 2011, when the Deputy Speaker of Parliament received the bill. To highlight this milestone I and a friend drove a very successful PR campaign which attracted all the major media in the country.

Most people in my past schools could not wait to leave the country and see what is out there and although we all have a desire to explore, I always knew and still know that my travelling and exposure will bring me back to one place, my home in Uganda where I can help in any way I can from what I will learn and gain from this opportunity to study in the United States.


A recent Trip to Kenya and Uganda

My name is Bill Poole and I first heard about Leadership Advancement International (the original name of Leaders for Africa) in 2006 from founder Ivan Lumala when he was representing Microsoft Corporation at Seattle University and other Pacific Northwest universities. I was a professor of computer science at SU and later hosted an LAI fund-raiser and joined the Board of Directors. It has been a genuine pleasure to get to know our students and some of their families, board members, and other supporters
For several years my wife, Clara, and I knew that we wanted to visit Uganda and Kenya, the homelands of our Leaders for Africa students, in order to meet their families and friends and to see the countries. We finally succeeded in arranging the visit in July and August of 2011, combining the trip with a Rotary International water project in Mbitini, a village in Kenya, and a safari in the Masai Mara.

We began the Leaders for Africa (LFA) part of our trip in Embu, a central Kenyan city of about 35,000 people where we met Kenneth Gitonga, the father of one of our students, Amos Gitonga. Amos is a senior Business student at Washington State University who has been “adopted” by Clara and me. He was living in our condo in Seattle and working an internship while we were on this trip.
Rotary International friends from Nairobi dropped us off in Embu. Amos had attended high school boarding school in Embu several years earlier. We rode with Amos’s father, Ken Gitonga, to Meru, the home of the Gitonga family. Both of Amos’s parents are serious educators, currently working on Master’s degrees, and excellent parents of two elementary school age children. Meru is a city with about 250,000 people. It was great fun meeting Amos’s family and friends. We had dinner with the Gitonga family, toured Meru National Park and visited Ken’s school with them. We also met a good candidate for LFA support someday who is the self-supporting computer expert at a conference center and Amos’s close friend. Enjoying some fun times in Kenya

Our time in Uganda

After three days in Meru, we returned to Nairobi, flew to Entebbe, and took a taxi to our guesthouse in Kampala, near Makerere University. Dr. Joel Okullo (the father of James Okullo, an alumnus of Seattle University and the University of Washington) and by Sheila Kyobutungi (more about Sheila later) arranged most of the details for our trip. They took very good care of us. Thanks to both of you so much.

We visited several professors and administrators at Makerere including the Chancellor’s Office, the Engineering School, the Computing School and the Uganda Cancer Institute, where former LFA Board Member Addie Boone has worked. Makerere University has about 40,000 students. I think there are good opportunities for academic cooperation between Makerere and LFA but they need to be developed further.

I want to highlight one professor who stood out in our visit: Dr. Moses Musazi of the Faculty of Technology at Makerere University. I consider his projects as excellent examples of Appropriate Technology (AT), first described by Dr. Ernst Schumacher in a 1973 book entitled Small is Beautiful. AT is generally recognized as technology that is small-scale, labor-intensive, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and locally controlled. We spent much of one day with him and some of his projects. His most widely recognized project produces inexpensive sanitary pads for schoolgirls and women – they are the major provider to the United Nations. Almost all of the materials are natural and locally produced.
Another project conceived by Dr. Musazi uses stabilized-adobe block-making machines which press a mixture of clay and Portland cement into a block creating an inexpensive substitute for the local bricks. People can build houses, schools, other buildings, water tanks and grain storage facilities around Jinja, Uganda. Makiga Engineering Services Ltd., a company that Clara and I visited in Nairobi, manufactures the machines. My Seattle Rotary Club is supplying two of the machines to the village of Mbitini in southwestern Kenya. This is just a sample of the projects that Dr. Musazi has created. An internship with him would be an excellent placement for any of our students.

Sanitary Pads Production – Uganda

I interviewed several excellent candidate students for LfA, for education both in Uganda and North America. They included Julius Ssali (interested in Health Information Technology and working at the Uganda Cancer Institute), Tesi Uwibambe (interested in Public and Global Health), Andrew Max Ogwok, Kenneth Arap Wasawas (a student at Seattle Pacific University) and his father, John Kaykuwa, and George Douglas Torach. I wish we could support all of them – they each have the possibility for leadership in Uganda.
Clara and I had a little time to see the country. We attended church services in the Masai Mara and in Kampala (with the Okullo family), watched the Ndere Dance Troupe with Sheila and her 3 siblings. We met the parents of Sarah Bwabye Namugenyi, and met the whole Okullo family and friends at a wonderful meal at their home (thank you so much, Joel and Esther). We appreciated many rides provided by Dr. Okullo and Sheila’s sister Brenda and brother Seth, our main driver.
Thanks so much to everyone who helped make our trip a success. We truly had a wonderful and transforming visit.

Observations about Higher Education and Leadership

Leaders for Africa has a vision of empowered African communities that benefit from economic development, social, and political progress. Our role in enabling this vision is to assist students with their university education and ethical leadership training.

In the past, we have focused on undergraduate education and leadership training in North America. My observations and experiences in East Africa last summer have led me to consider a relaxation of both of those policies: to consider supporting graduate education and to support education in Africa and, perhaps, in the UK and Europe. On my trip to Kenya and Uganda, I had the good fortune of meeting, primarily in Nairobi and Kampala, with various leaders of education, business, medicine and Rotary International, a major humanitarian organization. Here is a summary of what I learned.
When LFA was formed 10 years ago, an undergraduate degree was a “ticket” to success in many African countries. Since then, many African students have completed undergraduate degrees in their home countries, in North America and in Europe. But there have been major changes since then. Now there is a “surplus” of young people with undergraduate degrees for the applicable jobs. For example, a BS degree in Science is no longer a guarantee of employment. This is no different from many other countries around the world.
There was general agreement among the African leaders I met that the “new ticket” to success in Africa is a graduate degree, whether a Master’s or Doctorate degree. I interviewed about 10 student applicants for LFA support and they generally agreed with this observation. There were several applicants for graduate school support and the undergraduate applicants understood that they would need further education. The Board of Directors of LFA understands this also and is now considering the possibility of supporting students in graduate school.
Regarding the location of the education, there was general agreement, among the African leaders whom I met, that there were good undergraduate programs in Africa. Because of the difference in costs, several undergraduate students can be supported in their home countries for the cost of sending one to North America. The LFA Board has had discussions on this topic for the past year and has agreed to start supporting students in Africa. As we continue to learn over time, we will continue to make changes to make our work more effective.
On a related topic, I also heard from the African leaders of the importance of students participating in internships in their home countries through businesses, government agencies and international organizations. This is very important, almost critical, for one beginning a career with leadership potential.

A Success Story for LFA

While in the Kampala area, Clara and I spent quite a bit of time with Sheila Kyobutungi, a Leaders for Africa student alum and graduate of Portland State University in Oregon with a major in Community Development. Before returning to Uganda, Sheila earned a Masters in Community from Oxford Brookes in the UK. Sheila has since returned to Uganda and works for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization headquartered just south of Seattle. She and a fellow worker educate women on health issues in the villages in one region of Uganda. Sheila was a very big help in arranging our trip to Uganda. Clara and I were extremely impressed with the closeness of Sheila and her three siblings. Her sister, Brenda, and brother, Seth, were very helpful with driving us around the area to meet appointments. We thoroughly enjoyed their company. We were impressed with the closeness of all of the families we met.

Left to right; Sheila Kyobutungi, Clara Poole, and Brenda

Join Us at Leaders for Africa

I hope this gives you an idea of what the vision of LFA is and what we try to do. You can find contact information for LFA on our website.