We are delighted to announce that our two founders, Alexis Hefley and Donna Malouf, were honored this week at the Chiapas International “Women Who Give Hope” luncheon in Dallas for their continued work with Empower African Children. We can’t think of a better way to continue in the spirit of celebration than hearing directly from the Empower scholars about how they’ve touched their lives. This week, our students took time to share some fun memories and reflect on the enormous impact that “Aunt Alexis” and “Aunt Donna” have had on their lives!
Fun Memories with Aunt Alexis and Aunt Donna:
Violet: I really do have fun moments with both of them. One time, when I performed well in my academics, Aunt Alexis was in Uganda and congratulated me upon my success and that made me feel so loved and cared for. For Aunt Donna, when she came for the leadership camp I really had so much fun interacting with her.
Anthony: I remember when we all went to Universal Studios together. We went to the ‘Horror House’. It was so scary and Aunt Donna was scared too!
Patrick: We had a fun day when Aunt Alexis visited my home. We shared our home experience with her and did all of the daily activities together such as fetching water and cleaning the banana plantation. I was very happy to have her at my home.
Rajab: I remember one day we went for a workshop and Aunt Alexis danced with us. She did it well and everyone clapped! With Aunt Donna, I remember when we were about to leave the USA and she took us to her home for dinner with her family. We swam, ate a lot, socialized, and we sang her our best song—“Yesu Kidukiro Kyange”—which made her cry tears of joy.
Donatina: A fun memory of Aunt Alexis is when we were in America and we saw snow. We got out of our bus and had to wait for a new one to come get us because we were stuck. We played in the snow and they took photos of us!
Two Donnas: Aunt Donna with young Donatina. Donna with Brian Odong during January’s leadership camp.
What makes Alexis and Donna such incredible leaders?
Faith K: Thoughtful—because they gave up their life to just be there for us and yet influence the young so we can be useful in the future. Respectful—no matter your age, they will treat you like you were on the same level. They are truly an inspiration to us students!
Anthony: They act with honesty, integrity, and they are responsible leaders. They always match their words with actions.
Wasswa: Donna and Alexis have worked tirelessly to see things happen here and to fight for the young future. They have put in their time, money, and life to make everything happen.
Mary: Alexis and Donna are such incredible leaders because they get time to listen to other people’s opinions and their words match their actions. Another thing is that they are always honest.
Frank: They both care so much for other communities not just their own country, like us in Uganda.
Joyce: They can make strong decisions. They co-operate with each other. They listen to other peoples’ views and they make changes where necessary.
Violet: I would say that what has made Aunt Alexis and Aunt Donna such incredible leaders is the responsibility they have, the feedback they receive from those they lead, the discipline and respect that they have for people they lead, and the strength and passion that they have for their work.
Rajab: They are ladies of integrity. They have done incredible work even when no one is noticing. They have given us everything we need in life that a parent can wish his or her child to have. They inspire us to be leaders of integrity, honesty, and persistence.
Alexis with Sarah, an Empower alumni and a former US University student.
How has their work through Empower African Children changed your life?
Kuluthum: Empower helped me discover my talents. I didn’t know that I could sing and dance, but when I joined the program, now I can sing, dance, and exchange ideas with my friends. Now, with Empower, I can see my future in the coming years.
Bernard: Empower African Children helped me in choosing my career and realizing how to reach it! They’ve made a huge impact towards my future.
Hassan: Empower has helped me realize what a family is and has also helped me improve by being a part of this team.
Joyce: My life has greatly changed through Empower and also Spirit of Uganda because I did not think that I would be a performer in my life. I didn’t think that I would attend a special school like Taibah International School. I didn’t know that I would reach my future goals like I’m doing right now.
Rajab: Since receiving my scholarship with Empower African Children, they have made me a boy who is always hoping for the better. They’ve helped me receive the best education in Uganda! I used to think I’d grow up and be a subsistence farmer but now I dream big. I want to make a difference. I want to leave a mark!
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