‘You Cannot Learn to Swim Unless you Enter the Swimming Pool’ – Charity Byaruhanga
, by : cyberhost

Anyone that has met Charity will agree as I do that she is an incredibly warm, energetic and lively person. As soon as she starts to speak, you can already feel her reel you into a space of comfort.

So who is Charity?

Charity is currently employed by Kyambogo University as a project administrator in the Norhed projects which address the gap that students experience between academia and the ‘work world’. She also runs an organisation called Charity Bag Foundation that focuses on disadvantaged children, youth and widows. It empowers young people in entrepreneurial, life and work skills.

Where did Charity’s AYLF story begin?

Charity describes her AYLF story as having begun in 2009 at Kyambogo University where she had been elected Guild President. She remembers being invited to join AYLF where she got the opportunity to appreciate and understand value based leadership through multiple gatherings and Prayer Breakfast meetings that she attended. She later went on to actively participate in empowering other student leaders in conferences and seminars.

I ask her what it was like being a female student leader at Kyambogo, a question I have been waiting to ask.

“As a country and a continent, we still have big strides to take in empowering women to take up leadership. Running for Guild President was no exception to this because of the common stereotypes that still stands in our society and culture that sets women’s roles as being background roles. Very few in our society think women can do more than the traditionally set roles.” she says.

She narrates the mockery she faced because of her gender, including but not limited to many wrongful advances from men because of her disposition as a woman in power. She then emphasizes how a firm commitment to her personal code of ethics helped her execute her role as Guild President diligently knowing she had been elected to serve the student body.

To this, she adds how grateful she is to have joined AYLF which exposed her to the 7 habits of Highly Effective People – which she cherishes as being a core in her life. She states that the sense of Proactivity and being a leader that looks at Jesus as the greatest leader of all time is what remains paramount over everything else.

She speaks about how she specifically admired Jesus’ servant leadership and endeavours to be a servant in every aspect of her work. Servant-hood became a key principle that guided her in many decisions. She vividly remembers not giving out any logistics during her campaign, because she understood that leadership is a service. She knew that she did not have to pay anyone to be seen as a good leader and people would vote for her based on merit and what they thought she could deliver, nothing else. She says this was one of the key takeaways from AYLF, giving back to the community and holding high esteem of the values she holds while in service.

‘In the concept of leadership, you must have a mentor and a mentee. People are always looking to learn from you, the way you walk and dress and talk. One key thing I have learnt is to avoid listening to the crowd and instead listening to my inner self when I declared my intentions to run for Guild Presidency. Approximately 99% of the people around me said I couldn’t.’ she says with a stern look on her face.

She adds that she fully understands their reasons for discouraging her. They seemingly made sense to her at the time. She did not have any money or support but still wanted to run in the race. During that time, she read Joyce Meyer’s book ‘The Confident Woman’ where the following statement jumped out at her; ‘Courage is the ability to take action in the presence of fear’. She says it prompted her to push through the paralysis of fear and strive for what she wanted which was the Guild Presidency. She adds that when she took that step of faith to start campaigning, miraculously, people began to ally with her; campaigning for her at no cost. That she says was her turning point. She states that as a leader, one must know what their strengths are and maximize them. Her major strength was the ability to communicate and convince. She capitalized on that to draw people to herself and her ideologies.

‘What are your fondest Memories of AYLF?’

‘My fondest memories are hinged on our interactions with young people. I have spoken at about 8 institutions’. She highlights a Vision Conference where she shared her story and impacted the life of a high school student who was at a place in his life where he felt helpless about his future but was inspired to apply for a law course and scholarship he wanted. She says that that was one of her most memorable moments, reminding her that her own experience can change someone’s life.

What do you envision AYLF will look like in the next ten years?’

‘I think AYLF will be like a bomb that explodes and spreads everywhere.’ She foresees AYLF transforming many lives in Uganda and the region at large. She believes that the young people that AYLF has invested in will rise to influence the different positions they are placed to tackle public ‘secrets’ such as corruption that our society has ignored.

She advises the young people to follow their passion and purpose by starting and not just talking about their dreams.

‘You cannot learn to swim unless you enter the swimming pool,’ she says. She reiterates the importance of having a vision that people can connect with and support. Lastly, as a believer in God, Charity emphasizes the importance of relying on God. She states that there is an inner strength that you cannot derive from the person next to you, it can only be gotten from a deep faith that is cultivated from a connection with a God.

A big thank you to Ms Charity Byarugaba for her great impartation of wisdom. We truly wish you a ton of blessings in all your future endeavors.

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