As young man Mukasa Christopher sought to become a Catholic priest so that he could reach out to people, preach to them God’s word, share with them blessings and all that can give them more reasons to believe in life and have hope but as reality always checks in, he couldn’t make it into priesthood. As much as this fact meant a different diversion in his life’s journey, it did not alter his desire to be an impact creator in his society.
He sought and teamed up with humanitarian minded people with whom he started an initiative called Tokens of Life Uganda for them to spread hope with vulnerable people in village communities like the elderly, orphans, those living with HIV/AIDS among others with a reason to share love, friendship and majorly to give hope to such societies. Out of the uncountable challenges facing our country Uganda ranging, this initiative chose to single out three sectors from which they can render support to the vulnerable communities they identified namely; Education, Health and Sanitation.
Given the fact that many parents of the present-day youths never had a chance to attain good education during their times, such parents in most cases do not also bother send their children to good schools in most times; something that is highly influenced by poverty or certain unavoidable circumstances. Some children just have no parents or guardians to support their education. In order to lend a helping hand, the members of this initiative go down to the villages and identify children who do not have hope of going to school like orphans, those abandoned by their parents as well as those on street and take them to good schools that they partner with to be educated. In doing this, this initiative believes that they are creating and giving hope to a great generation that will grow up to also give hope and support to other generations.
Some of the children posing for a photo moment after getting scholastic materials from the initiative and then applying them to the classroom.
It is widely acknowledged that in many rural areas all over Uganda, the health facilities are not very resourceful with many lacking the capacity to offer good quality health services to the people living in such areas. In response to this issue, Tokens of Life Uganda committed to offer a helping hand in this situation by designing an annual idea of holding health camps in such villages. To do this, they partner with medical centres that they feel are capable of offering free medical services, blood donation, HIV/AID’s guidance and counselling, eyes specialism among others to identified villages every year. A follow up is always done after by the team to ensure that the beneficiaries continue to attain better health services or where no possible, referrals to better hospitals can be done.
Community members responding to the health activities organised by Tokens of Life, and one of the health workers from the partner hospitals working on an elderly from the community.
To culminate this, every christmas season, members of this initiative share items like soap, sugar, and other necessities as Christmas tokens especially to the elderly as support for their proper wellbeing.
A happy moment as members of the initiative give and interact with beneficiaries.
As always, sanitation is one major element every community needs to live a good live. As part of the initiative’s activities, they team up with other humanitarians to have social responsibility programs. They identify an area that is in dire need of sanitation and cleaning. The team gathers up with the identified community and they clean the area as they tell the people why it is good to live in a clean environment and also encourage proper disposal of garbage.
One of the areas with a stagnant sewerage drainage being cleared during the community cleaning activities, and Mukasa Christopher lending a hand to load sacks of rubbish to be properly disbursed from the cleaned areas.
To keep our environment fresh, at the end of such exercises, Tokens of Life Uganda plants trees in such area during their activities in the community.
Tree Planting in one of the beneficiary's compound
Many people including authorities look at this initiative and perceive it to be having a lot of money for them to do what they do for their beneficiaries. While I was interacting with Mukasa Christopher; the head behind the initiative, he informed me that funds are their number one biggest challenge. In most cases they come in from donors irregularly and this in most cases has shaken their projects sustainability and continuity. This has limited the number of community projects they do since they depend on a very limited budget. As they forge a way around working amidst this challenge, they depend on volunteers on most of the projects they do, value and endeavour to have partners to involve in their projects like schools and hospitals as well as other humanitarians. The initiative also started undertaking some income generating activities like making liquid soap for support some of their social projects.
Jerrycans of liquid soap made by Tokens of Life Uganda
At first, volunteers used to fear working with the vulnerable groups of those with HIV/AIDS and the elderly in regards to the perceptions they once had about these two kinds of beneficiaries. For the elderly, the volunteers feared that such people usually get sensitive to whatever is told to them as well as those living with the HIV. With time, the interaction with these two vulnerable groups has improved as the team took advantage of the counsel given to them by professional counsellors they work with, and the overtime experience of being around the elderly lessened the tension and changed the perception of the volunteers.
The initiative looks forward to overcoming most of it challenges gradually to see that they achieve their future plans. I was informed that Tokens of Life Uganda aims at starting up an education centre where they can continue to offer educational support to all identified children as well as including a technical section to equip them with life / vocational skills from which they can use to earn a living in their coming years. From the strong partnerships and financial donors, they have, building a health facility where they can ably offer high quality medical services and counselling to the community at affordable fees is another future plan of this initiative
To all the youths out there, “Be bold enough to share your stories, spare time and whole heartedly listen to those who need to be listened because there is power in storytelling! Don’t wait to start your own community impacting idea, start now and give hope to others! Impulses the Founder; Mukasa Christopher. He continues and shares that everything is possible especially when one gets likeminded people towards an idea and have the experience of executing it to encourage, lift and support your initiative.
Tokens of Life Uganda team