Our goal for every Empower Scholar is to provide them with the tools they need to become change-makers and people of influence in their community. Students like Francis, Lukia, and Betty are just a few of the many examples of what’s possible when you invest in Uganda’s youth!
My name is Francis. I have been supported through Empower African Children since the beginning in 2006 and received a presidential scholarship from Pepperdine University. The tremendous impact of my Empower scholarship has now come full circle in my life and has prepared me to impact my family as well.
I have been able to support my family by paying for my mother’s prescriptions and helping with school fees for my younger siblings. I was also able to procure a small piece of land on which we planted eucalyptus trees as a way of moving my family towards sustainability. In the future, tree sales will not only pay for my siblings’ school fees, but will also help with the needs of my family. Also, with the help of a friend, I expanded my mother’s chicken business in order to make it more sustainable.
Today, I am beyond blessed to be supported through Empower African Children’s scholarship program and to be getting an education at one of the greatest institutions of higher learning in the United States. This opportunity has opened my mind and taught me to look at the world through the lens of sustainability. It’s been the stepping-stone for me to be able to contribute to both my family and community. I am thankful because Empower has given me the opportunity to dream of a better life and world, not only for myself, but for my fellow countrymen and the rest of humanity.
Lukia Nantale spent a month in her home village in southern Uganda during a recent school break. Like most students she rested and reconnected with her family, but Lukia also used the time to assess the needs of her own community. “I thought, ‘what’s really needed’? Why should people BUY soap when they can make it themselves? They have all the leaves and materials they need right here in the village!”
Lukia currently studies at Nsamizi Training Institute of Social Development where she recently completed a two-month project in Kamuli District. During her project she taught people in rural areas how to make household essentials themselves, such as soap and charcoal. Now she was sharing that experience with her own community.
“The first steps were directing meetings to introduce my project to the community and elect a chairperson. I taught them the basics about soap, showed them the materials they needed, and got to work. We collected the leaves from these various plants and trees: orange, aloe vera, papaya, cassava, just to start. Then we mixed the scented leaves with a small bit of detergent and water. If you let them sit overnight, by morning you have bars of soap for either washing clothes or showering.” To encourage community-building, she placed 120 people who were interested in learning the trade into four groups of thirty people for production. Each group works together and sells together.
Lukia’s project is empowering her village in an important way. Her ability to recognize a need in her community and pair it with a sustainable project makes her a young entrepreneur within her village. When asked about the impact of her project, Lukia replies: “I didn’t just want to do a project. I wanted to make a change!”
Elizabeth Nakato, “Betty” as we lovingly call her, is a recent masters graduate of Babson University where she studied Entrepreneurship and has been in our scholarship program since the beginning. In the story, “Portraits of Service”, featured in the Fall edition of Babson Magazine, John Crawford highlights five students and alumni that are actively changing the world. We are so honored to be a part of Betty’s story.
Story by John Crawford, Photograph by Tom Kates
When her parents passed away, Elizabeth Nakato thinks she was in third grade. The details are sketchy. To this day, she’s not sure how they died.
Nakato may have had a difficult childhood in a country, Uganda, with a turbulent history, but she doesn’t want to be burdened by her past. “It is what it is,” she says. “It’s a part of who I am, but it does not define me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.”
Nakato volunteers with Empower African Children, a nonprofit that supports Ugandan children in need. Empower is close to Nakato’s heart. In the trying times that followed her parents’ passing, the organization was there for her. Among other support, it gave her scholarships to a Ugandan boarding school and then to an American community college, an experience that ultimately led her to Babson.
Nakato is grateful for all that Empower has done. She intends to help the organization any way she can for the rest of her life. “They’re the reason I’ve come so far,” Nakato says. She speaks on behalf of Empower to various groups and, in Uganda, serves as a guide for volunteers working with the nonprofit. For years she danced and sang with Empower’s touring company, Spirit of Uganda, which performs throughout North America to bring attention to the plight of Uganda’s more than 2 million orphans. Earlier this year, she helped bring the Spirit of Uganda to Babson’s campus.
Nakato eventually plans to move back to Uganda. She wants to start a cosmetics company that uses natural products and employs women from the villages. She also hopes to work in real estate and help move the country’s marginalized people into affordable housing. “They need me back home,” she says.
* To read more of our students’ stories, visit the ! Year published if available, date cited, customwritingassistance.com/ and website address!