How did we arrive in Africa?
In October of 2022, Dear Future landed in Uganda, Africa to connect with two NGO's (nonprofit are called NGOs in other countries).
Ever since our return, many people have asked: "how did you guys get there?".
We ask the same question ourselves, and additionally, we asked: "how did we get there so quickly?" I hope to answer both of this questions, including also the question: why?
Since the inception of the idea of starting a nonprofit; the vision of helping those that needed it the most served as an umbrella for the plans that would follow. As the idea progressed, we dove into loads of information about social issues, and data regarding educational disadvantages, inequities and where exactly help is mostly needed. Our primary sources of information came from UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), the World Data Bank and the Human Rights Watch Organization, among other relevant sources of data.
We immediately figured out that we did not need to hire a rocket scientist to help us identify where we should place our attention. The needs were clear in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. However, also knowing that we are new in the game of nonprofit, we decided that it would be wise to cut our teeth in a region we know best and where we could find a population that needed help; and that place was the Andes of Peru. We knew that not anywhere in Peru would be the place, but instead, our target population would be in the Andes of Peru, where remoteness and poverty comes together to produce high levels of inequity and educational drop out.
With all the above information, we set the following path for Dear Future:
That we would focus our organization in the education of children living in remote and extremely poor regions of the world.
That we would work globally to reach those that needed it the most.
That we would start in the Andes of Peru, because it was the perfect test tube for us to hone our craft.
That we would start seeking a way to land in Africa and/or South Asia when the opportunity came up.
Wait, but how?
So now that we put our wishes out there, the questions was so very obvious: how? Our answer: "Let's sit on this, keep researching and keep our ear to the ground".
What happened next is ineffable; and every step came together almost as already woven in the fabric of Dear Future's history.
Out of all the Linkedin posts I scroll on a daily basis, the posts of a woman named Namugga Mable Kitiibwa appeared more than once or twice but instead repeatedly. I did not hit like or leave any comments, guarding myself from any possible outsider that would reach out in an un-welcomed manner.
The posts that were presented clearly painted exactly the picture I needed to see; if real! This woman in Uganda, Africa, started a nonprofit organization, which is at a similar stage as Dear Future is, focuses on children, they are in a remote location, they focus on education and above all, they need help...
Finally after a couple "likes", I reached out to her and said:
Like this, our relationship started. But we still needed to visit Africa; because as our method was becoming clear, we decided that we needed to "set boots" on the grounds that we were going to help, and we needed to make sure that above all, we protected our donors and saved ourselves from any possibility of fraud; because it is well known that many such unfortunate things are launched from Africa.
As cautiously as possible we began working on a plan to visit Uganda, and found a lot of information about Kampala (capital) and the surrounding areas, but truly not a good reference of what we needed, or a way to guarantee our safety.
Just as amazingly as Namugga presented herself in our feed; a new Linkedin contact popped up in my feed: W. Kevin Valdez. Unknown to me, but closer to my reference; Kevin is a retired Navy Chief that belongs, as well as I do, to a known Navy group on Linkedin. The subject of his post was also in my list of things I call "you can't make this $#177 up".
I immediately reached out to Kevin and expressed my desire to come to Kampala and wondered if he would be willing to help me out with some information to make my intelligence gathering a little easier and my transit there safer; which he did and so much more. After a long conversation, I learned that he was a professional videographer/photographer and he offered to do a couple pro bono days of photography, also for him to get a chance to tag along into the villages; and even better knowing that he was embarking on an experience to help other people. Our relationship has grown and even though he is now in Ghana, we continue to collaborate to possibly expand our vision there.
So now, all the pieces were in place to complete a trip to Uganda. Plane tickets were booked, hotels were booked and all that was left was to land there and throw ourselves into the unknown.
Three days before leaving for Uganda, our friend Michael Campbell from SmileIstutter.org; who by the way was a connection made from my contact with Namugga, introduced me to another life changer named Henry Katinda, also in Uganda, except that he is in the eastern region of Mayuge. He and I met over zoom and discussed that if I had additional days I would make an attempt to make my way to Mayuge and visit him and his nonprofit.
On day one, I was surprised when I was picked up by Namugga and also Henry, who had put several days aside to come meet me and personally escort me to Mayuge when the time was right.
This is the story of how the four of us came together and how The Namugga Mable Foundation, Empathy Children Initiative-UG, Dear Future and Team Coco Caramel came together to start a relationship that led to the following accomplishments in a matter of a few months:
We built a school in the region of Wakiso for the Namugga Mable Foundation, in collaboration with Smile I Stutter, and Sara Daves, Transformational Coach.
We began supporting 15 orphans in the Namugga Mable Foundation and RJ Orphanage with basic needs and tuitions.
We provided school supplies to 188 students in both Wakiso and Mayuge as they began their school year in February.
We provided blankets and mattresses to the orphanage in Wakiso.
We provided blankets and mattresses to children in Mayuge who were sleeping on the ground.
We provided hundreds of girls with hygienic towels to ensure they don't miss a day of school.
We pulled 20 children from working in the rock quarry and paid for 1 year of education in collaboration with Ray 5 Farm in Carthage, Arkansas; who also paid for their school uniforms, sports uniforms and shoes.
And our work there has just begun.
For more information about Dear Future, Inc visit www.dear-future.org or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.