I was born and raised by parents that did not have an opportunity to complete school but they knew the value of Education. All through my school journey, I have seen my parents struggle to ensure we to attend school. Iam the first born in a family that had 6 children (5 girls and 1 boy), just like my position, first priority was given to me to attend school and I never took this for granted. This does not mean that my siblings were never given opportunity but I always came first. My life in secondary school made me appreciate the realities of life as I would witness my father struggle to clear school bills. My mother was a stay home mother whose part was to plead with the school administration to give us more time to stay in school. My mother’s pleading alone with the school administration inspired me to read harder. Fortunately, amidst these challenges, I was excelling at school a fact that made my parents sacrifice more to invest in my education.
I remember vividly, people would tell my father, why do you have to make such an investment in girl children? People still believed that education was for boys especially if you were born from a financially struggling family. Every moment I had with my late father, he would tell me these words that still echo in my heard, “Namutebi, I can’t give you a lot, because I don’t have it any way, I did not have an opportunity to complete school but I believe if you completed school, you will be a better person” that alone was enough to keep me going.
Completing Secondary school was by the grace of God as being chased from school for failure to clear school dues was the order of the day. While in my senior six, I was asked to go home to collect school fees balance, getting home I found my sister had been as well chased from school for school fees balance. We both look at one another as children and started crying, I knew it was all over. Late in the evening my parents agreed to sell off some piece of land they owned at give away price to have us return to school. The land was sold and the school fees balance was paid. Dad loved quality so he kept struggling to give us quality education. When S.6 results were released, I had excelled, I was listed as the 3rd best person in the district where I sat my exams from. This gave me a smile, I was now sure I would attend University on government sponsor. I did attend university and in 2004, I was awarded a Bachelors of Arts in Social Sciences which was just the beginning of my Journey.
My world of work has been a world of learning, many times I hear young people complain about work and inside me all I do is to wonder. My first employer was RTI International, here I learnt the value of hard work, multi-tasking and working selflessly. My job description was mainly administrative but along the way my colleague Harriet identified a skill in me and she mentored and encouraged me to take on financial management responsibilities. This meant I needed to work extra hours to ensure I completed all my assignment. I was not a static staff, I picked interest in program work and I started actively participating in program trainings and monitoring. This gave me an added advantage but I had to work longer hours. In 2005, I decided to go and study a Masters Degree of Arts in Sociology. This meant I had to work and study at the same time. Having partly joined the program team, I sometimes missed class but still ensured things were done.
Moving into programing came with a lot of learning and appreciating community work that gave me and my friends a vision to start Network for Community Development (NCD). Many times, we know what to do but the indecisions in us will prevent us from taking the right decisions. In 2007, we established NCD, with no resources but with hope that the knowledge we had would help achieve our mission. 12 years down the road there is an inspiring story to share.
Starting NCD sounded a big vision, I remember sharing with one of my mentors and all he said was, Harris that is a big risk to take. Indeed this looked a huge risk, it meant paying operating costs from personal resources as we wait for the organization to grow. As a team leader, I didn’t give up. I was forever open to learning. Many people have mentored us to date, we keep learning every day and this has informed our programing as well. I have seen things start and excel. Every day I meet young people searching for internship placements and jobs, but many of them lack the all-round approach to life, all they do is complain about work, learning is not important them but money. It’s very hard if not impossible to build a career without learning, it impossible to be successful if you are not self- driven. My message to young people today is it’s not your background and past that will determine your future, you have ability to make your future better once you are hardworking and open to learning.
Forever I will be grateful to my late father for the sacrifices he made to ensure we complete school. To my mother, Iam forever learning from you and am thankful that you are the selfless mother we have. Harriet, you professional mentoring made me a better person.
Today I thought it better to share my journey to enable more young people know that with hard work things are possible.