Brenda Lamwaka (Uganda), NESA UGRAD Program, 2014-2015
I got back to my home country and for the first time in a while, could not come up with goals and ideas for the days, months, and years ahead. Time is one of those things that I always have a grip on, but this time I didn’t, and I realized I needed a plan going forward. The exchange had ended and I needed to figure out what my life was going to be like. I wanted to be different, to put every single skill I had learnt on the program into practice to make a difference.
I never knew what community service meant to people until I worked at a home for teenagers while on the UGRAD Program. It was then that I realized the needs that many people have out there and the things we can do to help, with even the smallest act doing so much. My church organized a health outreach in my community a couple of months after I returned home and I was excited to be a part of it. It went well, and was a success. I would have never known the joy that came with service had it not been for the NESA UGRAD experience.
I then graduated in January 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and I was striving for my degree to mean more than just the piece of paper. I got my first job at an IT firm that deals in designing affordable medical technologies for rural settings and economies that can’t afford systems to manage their patients and schedules. An opportunity to be a part of a hack-a-thon with CAMTech to support Global Surgery 2020 came by and I went for it, working with 4 other people with whom I shared a prize. It was a great accomplishment working well with people I was meeting for the very first time, and for us to come up with a successful project was thrilling.
I would be lying if I didn’t mention that these doors were opened because of the skills and perspective the NESA UGRAD Program equipped me with. I was later graced with an opportunity to work at the U.S. embassy here, along with other alumni from other programs, to reach out to young girls in rural communities and empower them with leadership skills, life skills, and career guidance, and to empower them to approach life with the hope that they can do anything they set their minds to and change their communities with a good education, acquired life skills, and hard work. It was amazing hearing from them, answering their questions, sharing our stories and achievements to awaken the courage within them. I only hope to keep doing this often and to empower many more in our communities.
Thank you to the U.S Department of State and World Learning! Wish me luck in reaching out to communities with technology, empowering girls in STEM education, and achieving the goals that I now look forward to accomplishing.