It’s almost three years since I graduated from the iLEAP Fellowship in Seattle. But up to now I’m still bound by the cords of love that I established while in Seattle! I did not know how strong these connections and friendships were until I some friends came to Uganda to see me. Unbelievable!!!
First, it was Lorna Chang who visited me for ten days in 2010. This was a huge surprise as we had met just twice; first at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a few weeks later, over a cup of coffee at Antioch University. Little did I know that the brief interaction we had would translate into a visit to Uganda!
Then in 2011, it was the iLEAP Executive Director Britt himself, who came and spent four days in Uganda. His guidance and support was amazing. The connection he established for me and for TEU is growing and we are working towards exploiting it further. Through him still, another phenomenal lady Maureen Kelly was introduced to me and she has become more than a mentor to me. Each time she comes to Uganda we meet and discuss a lot of issues.
During the just concluded week (12th -19th May 2012), I was happy to host yet another wonderful couple Kierstyn Hunter and her husband Peter Newbury in Uganda! It was amazing having the two around. We had a great time together discussing a wide range of issues ranging from: plans for TEU, career development plans, site visits, preparing Ugandan food recipes and many other issues. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit any schools and see teens in action because schools were just opening and kids were reporting from first term holidays. However, they had a chance to interact with Roses of Mbuya, a group that was formed by women infected and affected by HIV AIDS but have learnt to live positively and carrying out self- help projects for self-sustenance.
My personal reflection on these visits is that it’s not a coincidence that people are choosing to come to Uganda or Zambia or any other country. I believe it has to do with iLEAP culture of establishing meaningful mutual connections that people feel comfortable to go where they have their own. I say this because I believe Samba and Emmanuel and possibly other fellows are experiencing the same love– correct me if I’m wrong. Not surprising though, I later learnt that Kierstyn shared the same feeling. She said she felt comfortable coming to Uganda because she knew I was there and she wanted to see me after a long time. That was so touching! You have no idea how much that meant for me.
By and large, these visits are a constant reminder of our existing relationship, networks and a commitment to continue practicing what we learned from the fellowship. I thank Lorna, Britt, Maureen, Kierstyn and Peter for coming to see me. I know how expensive it is to travel to Uganda and for that I will forever be grateful. I also wish thank all of you who have been in contact with me through various social media—thanks to modern technology that has demystified distance as a barrier to regular communication.
Finally, I can say that the fellowship program may have been established for specific reasons. But as of now, I strongly believe there are many unanticipated positive outcomes that are directly or indirectly impacting the relationships of those involved. I wish to end on a note that no matter where we live, we are all branches of the same tree working towards the same cause – positive social change!!! Let’s keep he connections.
Long live the iLEAP Fraternity!