An African Dreamer

Blessed to Be A Blessing

As I was preparing to send my children back to school last month, I cleared their school fees and observed that the supermarkets were full of parents pushing trolleys with their children. We were filling up our trolleys with all kinds of stuff from basic soap and shoe polish to cornflakes and milk that many very privileged children carry to school.

Today however I write from a point of pain. Whereas many of our children have the privilege of having their fees paid and school requirements bought, there are those that wish they could go to school. There are those who just sit on the sidelines and watch others study while they wish they could even just even go for one term. They imagine that education will sort all their problems and give them access to a better life.

In March last year I had an opportunity to visit a rural school in the Northern part of Uganda. I met the student leadership. Head boy, Head girl and their cabinet of prefects. I was impressed by their confidence and enthusiasm. We discussed their school life, home life and their ambitions. Most of these students came from very under privileged families. In fact, when I later spoke to the Headmaster he confessed that most of the student leaders were brilliant children who managed to woe their peers to elect them but unfortunately many hadn’t paid their fees and the school would only retain them until exam time. Once the exams ae near all students who haven’t paid fees are sent away.

Adam comes from a family of 8 children. He is the oldest child. His grandmother sent him to school hoping he will be able to help his siblings. He said his mother died and he wasn’t sure where his father is. He hopes to become a pilot and mentioned he had researched the schools available. Rose, a tall brilliant girl on the other had was going to sit her final exams and hopes to become a lawyer so she can prove that girls from her clan can be successful. These are the stories of just a few of the students I met. They were so many more. We had a fun afternoon sharing stories both good and bad and it ended with me giving them advice for them to read hard a pursue their dreams.

Unfortunately, that is the story for many Ugandan children who are enthusiastic to go to school and hope that the education will help them achieve their dreams.  For every 100 children that start primary school most will never join a tertiary institution. They drop out along the way and many times it is because their families cannot afford to pay for their education.

You are so blessed. The onus is on us, who are blessed to ensure we are a blessing to others. Sponsor a child, bless a family and give back to your society. If you are reading this, you are among the lucky few and even ten dollars from you can change the future of a child. Ten dollars from you can make their dream a reality and take them out of extreme poverty.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a student leader and helping them pursue their dreams, or mentoring or employing a youth, please connect with us and join us in this move to give opportunities to gifted, bright, talented but underprivileged students. These children will change the face of Africa and should be given the opportunity to. You are blessed to be a blessing – support an African dreamer!

Bucket Lists

What is a bucket list? I always hear people saying that this or that is on my bucket list. There was even a movie done in the early 2000’s called ‘Bucket List’.

Well I have discovered it is simply a list of things you want to do or accomplish in your life time. Is it important to have them or is it just a wish list? Well as I have said before I am a strong believer of dreams. I believe if you can dream it you can achieve it. I believe if your mind has gone there then one day your feet will go there and God knows I have been to places I dreamt about.

Yes, things don’t always go according to plan and we should appreciate that because somebody greater than us sometimes has an even better plan for us. This week I was reminded of that while doing some personal reading. A woman who always wanted to have a child was never able to conceive but later in her life when she had moved on and given up on having children…behold she got pregnant. Yes Sarah. You know her. So yes we are aware sometimes things don’t go according to plan but lets have a plan. When you have a plan you are more energetic and more focused. Nothing is worse than when you’re dating and you meet a guy who has no plan.

This week I was privileged to tick off one thing on my bucket list…Rome and the Vatican City. We hear about it and sometimes we think its not a big deal, but Catholic or not, Rome is a sight for sore eyes. Founded in 753B.C as in yes Before Christ…it’s magnificent buildings, crazily beautiful sculptures, narrow streets with lots of restaurants serving pasta and yes the extra nice Italian ice-cream. Lets not even talk about the Colosseum (completed in the year 0080) or St. Peters Basilica (completed in the year 1615) because they scream out at you and you can see thousands of people just happy to be walking in a Harry Potter kind of scenery or in the Popes presence. To think that Rome is an old city and most of these structures were done by crazy artists of those days.

So back to my bucket list. 10 places I want to visit in my life time, 10 people I would like to meet in my life time and 10 things I want to achieve. Lots of things on my bucket list.

So yes, lets do our bucket lists, lets think positive about we want to do, where we want to go and what we hope to achieve in our life time. Lets work to towards 10 things on our bucket list. It is never that serious…add some fun things as well. So write your list and then happily tick off as you achieve them. Don’t forget to take other people with you on your life’s journey and positively contribute so that we have something to say about you when you’re long gone. #leavealegacy#enjoyit#dothebucket list.

Back to school

The education of a child is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The choice of schools or institutions right from nursery to university will form a critical part of who your child will become in future.

There are lots of nursery schools around and each offering a different curriculum or learning style. Many parents natural instinct is to send the child to the nearest school so as not to bother with transporting them to far. That’s a good decision if the schools nearby are to the standard required and within your budget. It is important that we look at the quality of the school before we enroll your children. It is not enough to assume that the first few years of a child are not important and therefore not prioritize quality. On the contrary the nursery level plays an important part in laying the foundations for a good education in future. It is at the nursery level that the child’s brain is stimulated through play and activities and before primary the fundamentals are taught. So choose a good nursery school.

At primary level, as a parent you need to make decisions as to whether your child will follow the national or international curriculum. There are a lot of schools available offering different curricular including those that are aligned to different faiths e.g Christian curriculum. Both curriculums have their pros and cons and it is important as a parent that you critically look at those and make an informed decision. Besides the curricular, when selecting a school again look at the quality of the school and aspects that maybe important to you.

For secondary level, many parents again have to select between national or international curricular, single-sex or mixed schools, day or boarding. Again make your selection based on your preference, your understanding of your child and your financial situation.

After secondary children have all options to go to university or a technical/vocational institutions. if your child has exceled and got the required entry points then they can go straight to university. If they haven’t do not worry. It may take them a little longer but they can start with a diploma which has lower entry requirements and eventually upgrade to a degree. Again the choice of universities is wide both within and outside the country and with various founders including those that are based on certain religious principles.

Looking forward to graduation and the time to create or look for employment!

In future articles I will discus:

  • financing your child’s education
  • the pros and cons of national vs international system.
  • key things to consider which define quality of a school
  • key learning milestones
  • check list for boarders
  • settling in as a new student
  • parents role in educating your child

Special Women

Time check – Women’s day – 8th March.

Women’s day. It’s one of those days when people send lots of messages wishing women a happy women’s day. There are a lot of women events both workshops and parties and lots of celebration. Some men are treating their spouses or daughter’s out and it’s generally a happy day.

What does Womens day mean to you? For me on the contrary I feel like women need more recognition every day. Women need more attention and respect. Don’t treat me so well on one day of the year but on everyday.

Today though as I focus on all that’s going on around me I can’t help reflect on my own person journey as a woman. The challenges and opportunities I have had.

My earliest memories are my mother making delicious meals, baking bread at home and making cheese. Yes she is that kind of woman. On top of that she is a professional, a mentor and a friend to many. Sunday lunches always have lots of visitors. When I look back I see my mother is so much of the Proverbs 31 Woman. She is a homemaker, a worker, a business woman and so much more.

As we celebrate Women’s day today lets celebrate our diversity as women. Let’s celebrate our multifacet character. Let’s celebrate that we can hussle it our in the boardroom, be a mother to the kids, be that respectful loving partner and yet still be us.

Have a lovely day and take time to rest and recuperate from all your multiple tasks. Think about how you can celebrate with women and give back to those women who don’t feel like there is anything to celebrate.

Dream distractions…what’s holding you back?

fear failure

In the last two articles we have been talking about how we need to have a plan for our life and how we need to visualize that in as much detail as you can. Many of the things we need to do require us to take action and begin to make things happen! We may need different kinds of resources some financial or human. If you haven’t read previous articles you may benefit from doing so.

The sad thing is many times you have dreams and goals for your life and may have even written them down or thought about them but never even taken one step towards making them to happen. Why is that? Why do you constantly think of something but never go about doing anything about it. Your dream will normally haunt you but still day after day or even year after year you never begin to make it happen.

I have come to realize from myself and talking to other people that they are some critical things that prevent us from achieving many things in life.Let’s look at them and crash them.

  • Fear. The what if question. What If I fail? What if I open a shop and no customers come? What if I take that job and the business closes? What if I am not good enough. Many times, the main thought preventing most of us from attaining our dreams is the fear of failure. Believe me if you don’t get over it, you will be paralyzed for years and never do anything and sadly live with regret. What if you do this big thing and what if you’re successful? What an achievement it would be. I always remember some of the successful businessmen of our time constantly say people only see their success, but they don’t know how many failed ideas and businesses they had before. We need to learn to embrace our fears as the chances of successes are many times even greater. One thing I learnt, even when I feel so afraid, if I don’t trust myself, I at least trust God and his plan for me. That’s always at the back of my mind when the person is the mirror is telling me I can’t do it.
  • The comfort zone. Its so easy to not want to be bothered, to not want to do the work. We want the success, but we don’t want the hustle. We are used to things coming easy. If you seek the easy way out then you may live thinking life dealt you a bad card, but the truth is you just don’t want to do the work. So, my challenge for you is get out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself, set goals and do the work. Save some money, network, start that project. If you won’t do to it for you then do it for your family or those close to you who would benefit from your action.
  • Naysayers. Sometimes we have friends and family who tell us we can’t make it. They don’t believe in our dreams. They discourage us and tell us stories of so many people who had similar dreams and failed. These are what I call Naysayers or pessimists. They discourage us and bring us to a point when we begin to fear and stop believing in ourselves. Yes, they may have had experiences and not been successful but all we need are their lessons not their discouragement. Don’t let them freeze your dreams. Politely thank them for the information and respond with a polite, “let me try”. Believe me they will look back when you are successful and be the same people who are proud to be associated with you. Let the Naysayers be. Instead also find people who believe in you, encourage you and challenge you to do great things. These are the people who will build you and make you think the impossible is possible and surely it will be. Look for mentors, role models or people who might have already done the things you want to do.
  • Procrastination and maybe its closely linked to analysis paralysis. The tendency to say I will start tomorrow. I will start working on this project tomorrow. I will start the diet tomorrow. I will buy land one day. Why not today? Many of us tend to put off things, thinking tomorrow would be a better time to start. Days go by, years go by and we are still planning to start tomorrow. My friend stop putting things off. Tomorrow may be no better than today. Stop over analyzing things and getting paralyzed to decide. Time is not on your side this time. Those who planted trees ten years ago are reaping. The best time to plant trees was ten years ago. The next best time is now. So, let us take a few steps today.
  •  I don’t have enough money. Yes, money is important, but I have come to realize if you believe in your dream money can be mobilized. Money comes to those who are convicted. It doesn’t come to those sitting at home waiting for it. Just start and you will get knowledge on how to get the money or people willing to contribute to your ideas.
  • Pride. Pride comes before a fall. Yes, sometimes we are so proud to do things that we regard as being below our level. It’s unfortunate that sometimes because of our up bringing or our association we are too proud to take the steps towards achieving our dreams. You don’t have a job but find it degrading to ask someone to read your CV or to give you a job opportunity. You have a car and no money, but you think its beneath you to drive an Uber. So you suffer in silence. Adjust your life and be ready to do even what we think are demeaning jobs just to keep afloat (note I am talking about clean and legit work). Just do it! In the end we will emerge successful.
  • Keeping up with the Jones. Don’t spend all your energy and resources trying to catch up with the competition at the cost of losing focus on your dreams. Just stay focused on your goals. If the competition motivates you to work hard, that’s fine, but if they instead make you spend time and money pretending to be who you are not, then forget them. Your time is coming. Don’t get me wrong, we need to enjoy life but at the same time we need to also think long term beyond today.
  • No sense of prioritization. Sometimes we can be completely distracted by trying to do so many things at once and instead we seem to be moving in circles. Yes, even if you are a very focused person if you don’t prioritize your life you may end up achieving a little of everything instead of your big goals. So, focus and do one thing well at a time. So those are my top eight dream distractors. However, the most common thing in these distractions is YOU. It is you who fears, you procrastinate, you listen to negative people, you are too laid back, you’re busy keeping up appearances, you’re not saving money but even worse you have no sense of prioritization.

We seem to be our greatest enemy but luckily we have the power to change your destiny. We need to believe in ourselves and confidently pursue our dreams without fear.

“Where will your strength come from?” Your strength will come from your belief in yourself and the one who made you. You were not a mistake. You have all the gifts and talents you need to accomplish your goal and your higher purpose in life. So, lets believe in ourselves. Give a blind ear to the self-doubt. When you look in the mirror see your greatness and possibility. Do not be distracted. You are great! You are an achiever! Who are you not to be?

Do share with me other dream distractors you think are important and together let’s crash them!

Moving from dream to reality.

How do I move from my current reality to my dream?

Last week we looked at how to do a dream board. That’s such a fun exercise. In case you missed the conversation please read the January 2019 blog on this page.  So, dreaming opens up your mind to possibilities, however all those beautiful ideas remain dreams if we don’t start building a plan of how we can achieve them.

I like to do what is known as a personal development strategy. Just like organizations build a vision, mission and workplan or 5-year strategy, we too must begin to value ourselves like that. Do you realize that you can work for a company and each month you diligently deliver the results or outputs your bosses give you? Yet in our own life many of us are living without a plan or any serious long-term vision and are not tracking our progress.

Okay I know the Melancholic and Choleric personality types who are diligent planners probably do have a plan but lets work with the majority. Firstly, before you draw the plan you need to state where you want to be in each sphere of your life and contrast that against where you are. It’s a reality check and it’s okay to do that and be real with yourself. I am at point A and I want to get to B. Once you do that for each key area of focus you will be able to develop strategies to move from point A to point B in your life. For example, if you want to build a family house (that’s my target and point B) but you don’t own land yet (my reality point A). It’s a simplistic example. So how do we move from no land to building a house? These are the strategies or steps you need to take; buy land, save for materials, start building, complete my house. Simple. But no in reality you need to plan for where you want to buy land, how much does it cost and when can you buy it, what resources do you have etc. So, building a house may not be a one-day venture but can run from 1 year to 10 years depending on how your critically plan the steps. Are you looking at upscale area like Kololo or  an out of town location like Matugga, how much do you earn, what are your income sources, and can you buy in a group to reduce costs? Those are some of the critical questions when developing a step by step plan for achieving your goals. I picked constructing a house because that the focus of many people today, but we could look at our various dreams which we have. Is it to lose weight, get married, pray more, start a business, go back to school?

Whatever the goal, the key questions as we said earlier are 1) where am I/what’s my reality now? 2) where do I want to be? 3) what do I need to do to get there with a given time frame? Breakdown what you need to do into a tiny step by step process. Most of your strategies will focus on being disciplined, save more, try and make more money, spend more time on it. Remember not all the dreams need financial resources some just need time, discipline, right networks and consistency.

So, go ahead try and strategize on how to you can move from your reality to your dream. The dream board you discussed in the previous blog will help you visualize your dreams. The key areas of my life that I like to plan for are family, faith, finance and investments, school, health etc. So on one side write your dream/goal (right side) and on the left write your reality. For monitoring and evaluation professionals you will see later the dream becomes your goal or target and your reality is the baseline but in between you need to plan how you get to the dream.  

Let me know how your brainstorming goes and if the three critical questions I asked earlier are useful. If you have any questions or need some guidance please do contact me. I will be happy to talk through your journey planner.

I know some people think what’s the fuss and why all the brainstorming and planning…how come you haven’t questioned your organisation’s business plan but wonder why you need a personal plan. Do you think your organization would survive without a marketing plan, annual targets or a strategy? So if its good enough for an organization to have a plan then surely so must you..but then I ask, can you go for a journey without a map? How do you reach your destination especially if you have one chance to get there? The strategic planning is just a map to guide us on how to navigate through the waters of life as they say ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’.

Next week we will look at the resources we need, yes including money, to achieve our dreams. Have a great week and please do some strategic thinking by answering the three questions I paused earlier…what is your reality, what is your goal and how do we move from point A to point B you can chose your duration either 1-10 years or even longer? 

Setting goals and dreaming in the New Year!

Life is a journey, do it and do it well. There are so many things we need to do in life; in our family, work place and neighbourhood. The Ganda Life Planner is my personal story of what has worked for me in all aspects of my life. I will be sharing with you my story and planning tools that you can borrow to help you achieve your dreams in all areas of your life. Hope you enjoy it!

So where do we begin from….

The beginning of the year is always the most exciting part of the year for many of us. The previous year is gone, and we are simply thankful that we made it to 2019, despite everything that has been happening around us and I must say in 2018 so much happened.

In the new year the most natural thought for me, is that it’s an opportunity to start afresh and close some doors to things that weren’t working well in 2018. We shouldn’t lie to ourselves. Personally, I didn’t achieve everything I set out to achieve and in fact I lapsed in some areas; unfinished projects, broken promises and resolutions shelved. But guess what, forget all that, it’s a new year and as I said before it’s a new start.

So, what does the new start mean. It’s a time to dream afresh in all aspects of our life. From family, career, business, Lord and yes, your lover. Dream, and dream big. No inhibitions. Your reality will be shaped by your mind, your FEARS and your pocket but I know that even that is limiting your dreams.

Over the years I have been in the habit of planning with my family. I find that it helps to map out clearly what we want to do with our time and use other resources appropriately. It’s also an opportunity to spend time understanding my children and their interests. About 5 years ago we did a vision board or commonly known as a dream board. It’s simple and fun for all ages. I would highly recommend that you try it.

All you need is simple wooden board, you can use ply wood or even manila, old magazines, glue and a scissors. Ask yourselves two questions. “what is my dream or what do I want to achieve”. Cut out and stick pictures from the magazine that reflect your dreams. They say if you can dream it, you can achieve it and having the dream board prominently displayed somewhere in your home is a constant reminder of your goals. You will find your thoughts focused, your networks and all your energy being drawn towards your goals. Some may say it’s the Law of Attraction while we can also liken it to what Habakkuk did in the seventh century when God gave him a vision that came to pass. Whatever it is, I can testify that it works but ask God in solitude what his plan for you is, what he wants you to achieve and to bless your plans (Reflection points PS. 127 & Prov 16. 3).

May your new year be filled with lots of dreams and may you begin to work towards achieving those dreams. Try doing the dream board with your family or friends and tell me how it goes. Next week I will share with you how we can practically move from dreaming to achieving those dreams.

Happy week!