I’m a 22 year old muggle from Guelph, Ontario, born March 21, 1990. I’ve been described as a lot of things, some good, some bad. People who know be best would likely describe me as an odd ball with a big heart. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in learning about where my parents were born. My Mom and Dad immigrated to Canada from Uganda when Idi Amin Dada ruled. Forced out of the country, my father stayed with a foster home in England while my mother found refuge at a camp in Italy. They eventually made their way to my hometown, Guelph. I was born four years after my brother Fy, who I’ve grown up with as not only my brother, but my best friend.
In the fall of 2005, I got angry at a World Vision commercial and decided to blog about world issues on a Xanga (yep, pre-mySpace days). That blog can be dug up on this website, though I warn that it’s the angry rant of a fifteen year old. After some good influence from friends, Ashley Bondad and I started a high school club with the purpose of sponsoring children overseas.
As the project was successful, in 2007, Ashley and I gathered a group of students and founded Student Reach International, an organization fully dedicated to providing students humanitarian opportunities. Bluntly and simply, we fundraised. In 2010, SRI transitioned into a charitable organization called I Have Hope In The Fight Against AIDS. The project that spearheaded the organization was called Reach Lesotho, which we developed a curriculum for and engaged multiple high schools in. Our idea of how to engage youth changed, from fundraising to education. Part of the project was a documentary, which I had the honour of directing alongside Jake Chirico. Our film premiered at the Harbourfront Centre on World AIDS Day, 2011. That film has now been seen in many cities across Canada and was also shown at the Bay Street Film Festival.
As a speaker and writer, I try to share a message of how students have the ability to make positive and sustainable change in the world. As an entrepreneur, I’m curious about testing new models that can bridge the gap between for-profit and non-profit endeavours. When I speak, I do my best to share personal experiences from my travels in many eastern and southern African countries. In coming months, there will be a new perspective to my speeches, tying in a new major interest of mine, which is physics. I’ve been lucky to have shared the podium with many speakers, including Craig Kielburger, Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik, Mayor Brenda Halloran, Gracen Johnson (mastermind behind the votemob movement), and Justin Trudeau. My written work work has been published in the Ontarion newspaper, the Guelph Mercury, and the Canadian Speak Up For Change blog. I am also currently writing a book titled, “Finding hope in a scary world.” Been writing it for a long time and it’s an evolving project.
I have been blessed to receive many accolades over the years, including the Rotary Youth Citizenship Award, the Guelph and District Multicultural Award, Guelph Mercury’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, the National TD Canada Trust Award of Merit for Outstanding Community Leadership and, most recently, the Canadian Top 20 Under 20 Award. I am proud to say that I will soon be convicting from the University of Guelph, with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in International Development. I have been featured by various local and regional media, as well as profiled by YouthConnect, a project run by the Government of Ontario. Nationally, I have been recognized through media outlets that include CTV, The Canadian Immigrant and The Globe and Mail. You can view my LinkedIn profile by clicking here.
At the end of the day, I’m a passionate guy that believes, more than anything, in humanity. I try to live by the ‘work hard, play hard’ mindset and it seems to be going pretty well.
Big goals for 2013: Take care of my health (physical and mental) and further establish Hope In The Fight.
YouthConnect.ca Interview: “Surround yourself with family, friends and positive individuals. Rejections and negativity will find their way to you, so it is important to be surrounded by positivity. Follow your passion and work harder than you thought you could.”