By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Regina Mburu, the communications liaison for Unbound in Africa, recently visited sponsored friends and families served through our Kampala, Uganda office. One of the young men she interviewed is 24-year-old Simon, a sponsored youth currently pursuing his higher education goals.
Simon lives in a one-room house. A small window on one side of the room makes sure that the room is well lit, the rays of sun bringing in warmth.
I settle down and sit on the clean floor, with my notebook and pen in hand, ready for the interview. I know that this will be an interesting one; Simon’s smile and warm welcome show that he is ready to talk to me and let me in to the story that is his life.
“I am 24 years old,” Simon said. “I come from a large family. I have 18 siblings.”
Simon had the opportunity to become part of the Unbound program when he was sponsored by Darla from Minnesota in 1999. Through sponsorship, Simon now had the resources to go to school. The sponsorship program helped covered his school tuition and supplies.
“That was the turning point in my life,” Simon said. “I knew there and then that I had to work hard and make my dreams come true.”
With so many children to take care of, Simon’s father was not in a position to offer them education. Food was a huge problem, not to mention having a house that would comfortably accommodate all of them.
“I took my studies seriously and excelled every step of the way,” Simon said. “I am now a second year student at the university, taking a Bachelor’s course in industrial art and design.”
To compliment the support he receives from Unbound, Simon decided to put his talent in art and his knowledge of multimedia craft and weaving to good use. Since the lecturers at his university didn’t teach him how to weave, he decided to be spending some of his free time by the market and learn from those who were doing it. Within a short time, he was able to do it as perfectly as they were doing it.
“For the last year, I have been making beaded sandals, necklaces, bags, table clothes and paintings,” Simon said. “I sell these items and make some money that I use for my upkeep. I also send my mother some money.”
During the interview, my eyes are drawn to the beautiful sandals that are on display in one corner of his room. Next to the sandals are beautiful, eye-catching bags. One look at these pieces of art, and my admiration for Simon wells up.
This young man did not let circumstances weigh him down; he put into use what he had to make more. As the saying goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
“In the future, I will own an art studio. I will brand it Symo Art Studio,” Simon shared.
Sometimes all it takes to change your life is passion and the will to do it. Simon’s passion for art and his creativity helps puts a meal on his table at the end of his day and pays for the roof over his head. His positive outlook toward life is the first step to a great future.
I ask him to give advice to his peers and those who will read this article, and he looks through the window, his eyes gazing at the skies as though saying, “The sky is the limit.”
“I would like to encourage my peers to work hard and be creative. They should be ready to explore their talents.”
As I slowly rise from the floor where I was sitting, my thoughts are on Simon’s words, about being positive in everything you do. I feel renewed in thought. Sometimes when visiting with our families and beneficiaries, one walks away with some bit of wisdom. This is one of those interviews that will linger in my mind long after this day.
As he sees me off, he looks at me and says, “I have come this far, and I can only go further.”
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