Lots of Firsts, by Peter Hilton

Lots of firsts – I have never written a blog before, never been to Africa except as a tourist, never participated in forming a non-profit whose purpose was to change the lives of children and break the cycle of poverty and despair. My prior non-profit work has been to help people in their times of need, not to change their lives. Now I am a member of Clover Foundation with the goal of enabling children of the slums of Uganda to grow up to be confident, caring, and successful people – contributing citizens and able parents. Two weeks ago we arrived in Kampala to join our Ugandan partners in our joint effort to enable young slum children to become happy, healthy, and confident; to socialize with their peers and to learn at our preschool – what an audacious undertaking. Yet here we are at Clover in Busega, Kampala seeing children who have changed dramatically within six months. We have seen their one room homes, their peers seating all day next to their working mothers, their extended stomachs, running noses, and blank stares. Our Ugandan peers have already performed miracles and we leave confident that they will continue to perform more miracles, raising these children up from preschool, to primary school and then on to secondary school, and as far as they can grow.

What is our role and what did we accomplish? We are partners of Clover UG and committed to walk with them through the challenges and the successes of our partnership in saving children from poverty and despair. We met numerous times as an integrated board to plan for our future; discussing where to build our school, how to support our children when the graduate Clover preschool and enter primary school. Our joint work has resulted in a shared vision and a shared commitment to meet the challenges along the way.

We also visited schools, medical clinics, and foundations as we seek to learn from the work of others as well as to find partners, taking the first steps in our long walk into the future of our children. We found wonderful people, schools that model our expections, partners that can help us achieve them, and foundations that may contribute to enable us to accomplish our goals. We leave with much new knowledge, a shared vision, and confidence to move forward.

I can’t adequately express my appreciation for the work of our Uganda team, the kindness and help of all those we met, the beauty of the country, and the sense that together we can change the lives of young children born into poverty and despair into adults who can make important contributions while raising healthy families, breaking the stubborn back of ignorance and poverty.