Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is delighted to announce that Jeremiah Lukeka has been named Director of SWB Uganda. Jeremiah, or "Coach Jerry" as he is better known, has been an integral part of SWB Uganda since its beginning in 2008.
Jerry has held nearly every role at the hub--he has been a player and a coach, an English teacher and a mentor, and a program coordinator and program manager. He has continuously contributed to the hub’s growth from a modest one-room building to its current form as a spacious youth center complete with classrooms, storage facilities, recreational areas, and an office space. Over the years, Jerry has proven himself to be not only a dedicated and inspirational leader but also one who truly embodies the mission and values of SWB.
Jerry is taking over the position from SWB Uganda's previous program director Steve Davis who will be transitioning to the new role of SWB Assist Regional Director (Africa), a new SWB initiative which will leverage the learning and lessons from SWB’s award winning direct-service work to further advance gender and play equity in new ways worldwide. Steve's passionate leadership has played a fundamental role in the growth and success of the Uganda hub and now, he is thrilled for Jerry's new role and the larger implications it has on the future of SWB Uganda.
“Jerry’s vast personal and professional experience, coupled with his ability to encourage, energize and support those around him, makes him a perfect fit for the Uganda Director role,” says Steve. “Jerry holds a lot of the history of this program, and as a refugee himself, he has the lived experience that allows him to fully understand our youth and their challenges. He is an aspirational leader and exemplary role model for our staff and youth alike.”
Jerry was 16 years-old when he arrived in Kampala, Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although his arrival in Kampala was an escape from the instability and insecurity of the DRC, he still found himself as a stranger in a place where he didn’t speak the language and didn’t know how he would make friends.
“One of the challenges I faced in my early days was finding a place where you can build a family and community,” said Jerry. Shortly after arriving in Kampala, Jerry met Raphael Murumbi, a fellow refugee from the DRC and the founder of SWB Uganda. It was an encounter that would completely change the course of his life.
"[I was inspired by] the hope to dream again, even if everything does not go well. As a newly arrived refugee in Uganda", recalls the new program director, "I faced a lot of challenges that made me think that nothing will ever work again, but coming to SWB made me realize that there is still hope."
As he steps into his new role, Jerry continues to be motivated and inspired by the hundreds of youth participants who come to SWB programs full of hope, full of life, and full of energy: “There is no greater, energizing, and more exciting thing than serving people who are at a stage of life where you have once been,” says Jerry. “I take this as a big privilege and it is what motivates and helps me bring the best out of myself to serve young refugees.”
Jerry continues, “it is a great honor and privilege to have served with one of the greatest leaders I have ever met in my lifetime. Steve has been a great inspiration, mentor and role model to me. He has helped me believe in myself and has always encouraged me to strive to give my best. This is a big achievement and win for the SWB Uganda staff and community who have shown me great support as their leader over the years. Working for this amazing organization over the past 10+ years has helped me develop a passion for using the power of sports and games to create positive change for individuals, families, communities, and the world.
I aspire to create an inclusive environment where all our young people and staff have the opportunity to reach their full potential. On top of this, through my new role, I want to inspire my fellow refugees to understand that being a refugee is not the end of life but in fact an opportunity for a new beginning.”