Many stories have been told about the millennials; how lazy we are, materialistic, greedy and so individualistic. However, these stories relegate the other side of the coin; the outliers - the millennials who are working hard to make society better; they think, organize and contribute in order to make a difference. I've grown to be so optimistic; and that is why whenever I read about the millennials, hope is the first thing that comes to my mind. I try to give the hopeful stories priority. Why waste so much brain energy on being negative when the cost of being hopeful, optimistic and normal is zero? So today I introduce to you a group of outliers - inspired and determined to make a change in the lives of others, they are thinkers, contributors and organizers but most of all, fun is inextricably connected to their service; they are the volunteers of the Cancer Charity Foundation.
CCF was founded in February 2008 through a strong nucleus of individuals who had been privately assisting cancer patients. Through numerous connections, a talented lady, Heather managed to build up the millennial hand of the foundation, most especially through organizing - asking friends to ask friends to volunteer and today it's a combination of young men and women putting all their resources - money, time, energy, knowledge etc together to make a difference. A typical CCF project starts with need; what do the patients need? And then several questions arise. How are we going to provide it? Who is going to help? What time do we have? Etc and after answering most of these questions, action begins. Contributions are often small, but what blows the minds of the patients is the love, affection and companionship that these young men and women give to them; it's invaluable.
I happened to participate in the organization of one project, the Tororo project. Here we made several contributions - clothes, food, money, time, name it.. and after pulling these resources together, we hit the road to Tororo district where we met Dr. Osire Isaac who through his organization EDYAC (Empowerment of Disadvantaged Youth and Children) was taking care of a number of kids; of whom included Cancer patients. On arrival in Tororo, he humbly welcomed us to his lovely home (where we were to spend a night). Even with all the volunteers' comfortable backgrounds and life privileges, many managed to adapt to the situation; share a bed where possible, interact, eat the different kinds of food, feel at home in a foreign region and most of all focus on the project.
The next day, Dr Osire had the kids gather at a local school where we would later meet them. The occasion was commenced by the village Chairman's welcome address and for the next couple of hours, I saw the most sincere, breath taking interactions between a group of young people and these sick kids; playing soccer, singing, face painting, dancing, carrying the young ones etc. We distributed a couple of basic items; clothes, food, toys, balls, pens etc. A presentation from the kids concluded our visit. As we drove back to Kampala that evening, with a bus full of sleepy folks, I thought about the impact of this trip, not only on the recipients but also on us the volunteers. The lessons we had learned, the lives we had impacted, and most of all the happiness we shared.
Ever since my departure, CCF has continued to have several of these projects; consider that the volunteers are students at several universities hence juggling school and service.
So the next time you read that cynical article or listen to that pessimistic talk about millennials; remember that there are those millennials who are upholding the notions of hard work, selflessness and late-gratification because these notions have not only built better character but also kept modern societies strong. That is why I have hope in this generation and that is why I call it "Generation Hope." You will change the world, yes you will.
Twitter - @mklubega