In some way or another, each of us is born with the ability to inspire, to challenge or to make a difference in the lives of others, especially when we break out of our comfort zone and take a "peek" outside our self. See, Judge and Act is always the golden rule. The Zimu Foundation is born out of the desire to make a difference in the lives of others who are less fortunate and underprivileged in the impoverished villages of Uganda, especially in the village where I grew up. During my life experiences, it would have been easy to lose hope in life when faced with the crudest conditions life can offer due to the lack of access to education, basic healthcare, clean water and self-sustaining livelihoods. I was born and raised in a remote area in Uganda.
My name is Peter Mukasa. I come from a family of 8 children: 5 girls and 3 boys. We were raised in a humble one-bedroom house. The circumstances at home never permitted us to have a choice about what we ate or the clothes we wore. Many times we went without basic necessities. Lacking basic needs taught us to be both economical and very grateful for the little we had. It also presumed that we would share it with one another. While growing up, education and medical care were the biggest challenges faced at home. Neither was free. My parents could not afford to pay for either of them since they did not have paying jobs. The little our family had to pay for anything came only through laborious activities such as charcoal burning, animal keeping, brick making, and local beer brewing (locally known as banana beer). Despite doing all these activities, our family could hardly earn sufficient funds to pay for our tuition and our other basic needs at home (kerosene, salt, soap, etc). Since we often could not raise enough money for tuition, we only went to school whenever we had a small surplus. At times, I could study for one term (quarter) and another term (quarter) I remained at home working to get enough money to go back to school to finish the next term. With the ongoing financial difficulties at home, I never dreamt I would go to high school, and surely not college and university. All of these were only dreams for me, but now they have become a reality. God blessed me with my uncle who sponsored my education all through grade school, high school, college and university.
When I got an opportunity to attend school, I felt so blessed. On the other hand, I was thinking of my fellow brothers, sisters and peers in my village who have not had the same opportunities as me. I remember my brothers and classmates who dropped out of school because their parents could not afford the tuition. The girls were forced to get married because their parents never wanted them to stay at home doing nothing. Some even decided to go on the streets to find a living. I sympathized with them.
Being among the lucky few from my village, I’ve had an insatiable desire to do something to give back; even if only a few might have the same chance that I was given. My desire turned into a dream of bringing a difference to whomever I can reach out to in my village. The absolute poverty and the high rate of illiteracy have worsened the living conditions of people in my village. The wars have factored in as well due to political insurgence and the extreme selfishness of powerful leaders and politicians. And when you combine the political landscape with the outbreak of HIV/AIDS and malaria in Uganda, you can understand many of the causes of extreme poverty and illiteracy. One cannot have a good paying job and take care of a family because he/she is not well educated and has no money to attend school. The ignorance isn’t due to a lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of opportunity. The ignorance permeates every aspect of life.
As a former school dropout and as a beneficiary of educational sponsorship/scholarship, I want to reach out to others so that they also get the opportunity to attend school and access a better education, proper healthcare services, clean water, and also to be financially stable. This is the anchor of my ministry as a Roman Catholic priest in Uganda. I know I cannot do it all, but I can do something. I may not be able to help all, but I can help, I can touch and inspire a few who will also do the same in the future. My goal is to provide and support relevant and holistic education which will be a key to change people’s lives and lead them out of the shackles of poverty and illiteracy to live a better life with hope and opportunities. There are many young people in my village with many dreams but their dreams can be shattered by defilement or lack of opportunities. The name of my foundation, "Zimu", is an acronym for "Zinunula Munaku" a Lugandan (my language) saying which is literary translated as "hope for the poor or the downtrodden". Together we can be the hope for the hopeless and build a future with hope and opportunities for others in the world! Inspired to Inspire!