When Blair journeyed with us to Uganda in 2016 as part of The Hunger Project’s ‘2030 Leaders’ Leadership Immersion Program, he was inspired by the incredible actions and resilience of our village partners. Blair connected with the person he wanted to become and saw possibility to expand his horizons.
Whilst in Uganda, Blair was both heartbroken and yet at the same time encouraged by the stories that our village partners shared. He was also inspired by our village partners’ motivation to work as a collective, to share resources, and to assist those less fortunate to secure a better quality of life.
Now, at a time where the whole world is in lockdown, Blair is reaching out to ensure that the most vulnerable communities are being supported. We caught up with Blair to hear how his experience in Uganda is still impacting his life 4 years on.
What three words would you use to describe your time in-country with THP?
Priceless, Meaningful, Transformative.
During your experience, what had the most profound impact on you?
The opportunity to be welcomed into the homes of the Ugandan people and to hear about their day-to-day struggles was both extremely heart-breaking and inspiring. The chance to understand first-hand what life had been like before THP began their programs in their region, to hear the progress they have made and literally, the lives that had been saved, was an incredibly profound experience and one I will keep with me forever.
What did you encounter during the Immersion Program that demonstrated efforts to achieve social transformation [which is one of THP’s 10 principles - Social Transformation: People’s self-reliance is suppressed by conditions such as corruption, armed conflict, racism and the subjugation of women. These are all rooted in an age-old and nearly universal patriarchal mindset that must be transformed as part of a fundamental shift in the way society is organized.]?
Social transformation was visible at every site we visited because of the ‘buy-in’ from the people involved. You could see the impact THP’s model was having in bringing the areas together and how it motivated each of the communities to work as one to break the cycle of hunger faced by generations before them.
The most obvious transformation was the empowerment and transformation of the women in these communities. Their greater involvement, and ability to contribute financially with the help of THP, had a profound effect on moving the communities forward.
What conversations or individuals stick with you as you reflect on your time in-country?
I met so many fascinating individuals throughout my immersion program, but there was one gentleman called Manfred that spoke to our group and his story has really stuck with me. He was a young father living in an area of Uganda where systemic hunger was a way of life, and like many people in this region he had very few resources available to help him and his young family.
By working with the THP Animators he was able to shift his mindset and believe that more was possible. With hard work, a new outlook and some assistance from THP he was able to expand his banana farm and really set himself up for the future.
What was most inspiring was that at the end of each long day, Manfred would ride his bike to neighbouring villages and pass on the knowledge that he had learned from THP so that others less fortunate could enjoy the better of quality of life he had achieved for himself.
How did your experience enable growth in your own life?
For the most part, it made me think bigger. The program really helped me understand what I had here in Australia and pushed me to make use of the resources available to me to achieve more in my own life. It also inspired me to have a better impact on the world around me.
How has participating in the 2030 Leaders journey inspired you to advocate for social transformation?
I didn’t start studying until later in life and I was studying a degree in International Studies when I went on my immersion program. The trip to Uganda really inspired me to finish my course and really shone a light on the work that I want to be involved in. I am currently looking into completing my Masters overseas with the hope of working for an organisation with the same values as THP.
Why did you choose to invest monthly in THP now? What is it about THP’s approach that makes it worthwhile to invest in at the moment?
Throughout the past few months, I have seen COVID-19 affect a lot of people close to me. I have friends who have lost their jobs, some have had to close their businesses, while others have lost substantial percentages of their salaries. It has really underscored how fragile our way of life is and made me think about what I could do to help.
As the Project Manager of a healthcare company I am in the very fortunate position that my work is considered essential and I really wanted to pay that good fortune forward. I know that when tragedy hits Australia, International Aid can take a real hit as the focus turns inward; knowing this I wanted to do what I could to ensure the good work of THP is able to continue in the partner countries and that those most in need get all the assistance they deserve.
Take Action. If you are interested in becoming a regular investor like Blair, please go to our website and tick ‘make this a monthly gift’.