No Meaning No Hope.

George Finds his Place in Life and the Community

Being unwanted or excluded is something that hits us hard in the core of our being. Our identity is damaged and our chances of succeeding in life are seriously diminished. We may have failed to make the sports team, lost a job or experienced a valued friend walk away from us.

In Africa being unwanted or excluded is felt even more acutely. Africans are profoundly community people with relationships being the foundation of life. The famous saying in Africa is, “I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am.” So, without the community, the individual has no life, no meaning and no hope.

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George’s Painful Past

For George Pele from the Kaliro District, this was all too true and the seeds of the loss of relationship were sown early in his life to devastating effect.

“My father was a huge fan of soccer so when I was born he named me after the Brazilian football legend Pele. As I grew up, my father expected me to be very active and possibly be good at soccer. But to his disappointment, I hated soccer and I was terrible at it. What I really loved was music. My father hated me and I was a huge disappointment to him. Nothing I did pleased him. I grew up a very depressed boy and I thought using drugs would make me feel better. But taking drugs had the opposite effect and I became a danger to the whole community. Even the few families that welcomed me started isolating themselves from me saying I was a bad influence on their children.”

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Namukoge Youth Inclusion Programme

George was among the 80% of Uganda’s disaffected young people without real employment. And since three quarters of 15-25 year olds lack the opportunity to complete a secondary school education, their skill levels are also often very low, leaving them with little hope of change and their relationships strained with the rest of the society who see their idleness.

With a vision to combat this situation, the Youth Inclusion Programme was started in 2020 by Namukoge Baptist Church, Kaliro, and supported by Amigos, to engage young people, like George, who have fallen through the cracks and who do not feel that they have a place in society, so that they can enter into what they were created for.

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Hope Reborn for George

For George this was a new beginning.

“When the youth project started in our community, I felt I needed to join in order to get my life back on track. I am happy that the church welcomed me. I was kept busy through the farming group and when the vocational training started, I learned carpentry, building and tailoring.

Ever since I joined the training, I stopped using drugs and started helping out in the community with furniture repairs using my newly acquired skill and before I knew it, everyone at home started loving me and the community started accepting me. I not only participate in the youth farming group, but I also help in the elders’ farming group – something that gives me a lot of joy. I cannot wait to finish my training so that I can establish a workshop to help youths in the community.”

Instead of football, George has learned how to play the game of life and is looking to ‘pass the ball’ to ‘other teammates’ so they can score too. Already, he is making a difference in Angel David’s life, who growing up also experienced the pain of social exclusion.

“Now, I am helping Angel who faced a lot of bullying due to his name Angel, which most boys consider a girl’s name. They never wanted to play with him, saying he only deserved to play with girls because of his name. He never had friends, something which made him so sad. But I am happy that I am now his friend and his self-esteem has improved a lot.”