So often we picture dreams and hope, two ideals that are core to the mission of Fields of Dreams Uganda, as ideas that are always in the future. We think of these things as something we set out towards as young children and will continually strive for throughout our childhood and adult lives. But, contrary to popular belief, dreams come true and hope is truly rising in a place where, only a decade or 2 ago, it was nowhere to be found. This is most evident (to me at least) in the work of the Fields of Dreams Youth Council and the young men and women who are re-investing their talents to help the next generation.
The Youth Council is made up of several young men and women who have been through the programming of Fields of Dreams Uganda and are continuing their journey towards their dreams in secondary school and beyond. The Youth Council is overflowing with ideas for projects that they can lead to help their communities and schools as well as raise some funds to help offset some of the costs of secondary education. I hear so often from Sebuuma Devid, one of the youth council members, about how his chickens are doing. Devid and some others have built a chicken coop that houses a hundred or more chickens at a time that he feeds, vaccinates, and raises until it is time to sell them to members of the community. Devid is so committed to this project that he made sure there was a room just off to the side of the coop where he sleeps so he can hear if a predator tries to harm his chickens. I hear from Kasujja Charles often as well. He is always so excited to tell me about the tent rental business that the Youth Council has started. There are several involved with this as they do everything from the set-up/teardown to the marketing and sales. They have started a micro-business that is self-sustainable and profitable.
Those are just a couple examples of projects that these young men and women are leading. But the real joy comes from seeing the investment of their talents that they are re-applying in their communities. I’m so excited to be back in Uganda in June. One of the highlights that I am most looking forward to is witnessing a service match between our Youth Council and another secondary school. During the intermission and after the match, they will be talking with the other teams about being men of integrity and women of substance. They are taking life lessons and instilling them into their peers, a true symbol of leadership. These are the faces of integrity in their communities and they are working so hard to ensure that their generation is a successful generation of good people!
The Youth Council is just one example of the young leaders in Uganda that are chasing their dreams and becoming great leaders and role models for their communities. If you take a look at the FoDU staff, they also are the young leaders of their communities. The staff has evolved and changed somewhat over the last year with several positions being filled by former students who gained confidence and knowledge through FoDU programming. Eddie is a young man who always dreamed of being a soccer player and ultimately a soccer coach. He started out as an assistant coach for the girls’ team in the Central region and is now a player/coach for the boys’ teams as well! He is living out his dream while helping give back to the kids in his community. A young man named Manisul is now the education advocate in the Central region. He is finishing up his university degree and wanting to help kids realize their dreams just as he is living out.
There is a saying that Franklin Roosevelt once said. “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” That is truly happening in Uganda. With the help of Fields of Dreams Uganda, the next generation of leaders are growing up right in front of us. That is a testament to the hard-work, determination, integrity, and passion that these young people have within them. Not only that, but it is a testament to the work of our Ugandan staff. They have been the heroes who instilled integrity and hard-work into these kids from the start. Now, the story has come full-circle and those who were once the students’ are now becoming the teachers and coaches of these very same qualities.
Dreams are coming true! Hope is indeed rising in these young people! And I have no doubt that this generation will be the most successful generation of people with great character, integrity, and charisma! That is why we take this week to honor them. For they are making a long-term impact on their country and on people all across the world!