Sunday, Dec. 5, was hardly a day of rest for anyone at Educate! in Uganda. As the sun rose in the morning, so did the Educate! staff, preparing for the long-awaited Alumni Program Launch Event. We arrived at Aga Khan High School at 7:30 am to prepare for the arrival of our Alumni and special guests.
People raced around in all directions setting up for their various tasks and responsibilities. Stickers and posters were being organized for use in the voting of our Alumni Leadership positions. Wires and cables were being hooked up for our power point and video presentations. And M&Ms were readily available to boost energy for the long day ahead.
Winnie and Jackie act as our fantastic Educate! ushers
Finally, the first group of alumni arrived. They walked off the bus in groups, looking around the venue, taking it all in. Partner organizations and businesses had set up tables all around the green with information and resources for our students. Some students had even taken the initiative to set up their own tables selling the jewelry, bags, and other crafts they had made for their Educate! projects. Inside, the main hall was decorated with Educate! banners and music was already blaring.
Educate! Alum Lillian Aero displays the jewelry made by her business, Namugongo Good Samaritans Organization at the Alumni Launch
Charlotte Iraguha, Lillian Aero, Maggie Sheahan and Costence Mpirirwe pose with Transform Uganda
As the students all found their seats in the hall, our two wonderful hosts for the day, Educate! staff members James and Agnes, welcomed everyone to the event. It had officially begun. Elections were first on the agenda. As part of the Alumni Program, our students have the opportunity to be elected as National, Regional and District leaders. In these positions they will carry the great responsibility of mobilizing their fellow alumni and the great benefit of attending Educate! led training sessions in topics ranging from business plan writing to financial management.
The alumni candidates flocked to the stage to give their speeches. Nervously, but with immense passion and excitement, they each appealed to their peers for votes. The voting then took place. While we had planned for commotion and chaos, the reality was a calm and focused environment, with every student seriously considering their options. Finally, our leaders were elected!
Newly elected Alumni President, Irene, poses with fellow Educate! Alum
The day continued with networking activities and small meetings held by the alumni at district levels. These meetings were just the first of many that will be held in the coming year for the alumni to meet and discuss their social businesses and initiatives. If their enthusiasm on this day was any indication of how this year will go, I think we can anticipate some very active and effective social projects and community leaders!
Educate! Board Member, Irene Mutumba (right), networks with special guests Beverley (center) and Rosemary Kaduru (left)
After lunch, a number of inspiring speakers praised our alumni for the hard work they’ve done and advised them about the challenges they may face in the future. The alumni were also given a wonderful resource and tool in the form of a book called Transform Uganda, written by Educate!’s very own, Maggie Sheahan. With leaders elected, speeches given and books distributed, it was time to officially launch the program and celebrate. With a brief speech from Alumni Program Coordinator, Solomon Kayiwa, the program was launched! The day ended with an energetic performance by Breakdance Project Uganda, lead by Abramz Tekya. In a way, the day ended just as it began; with loud music, excited students and smiling faces.