Henry has been a volunteer with SWB Uganda since Jan 2019, getting his start at the Annual Youth Festival. These days, “Coach Henry” is a staple at the Barefoot League where he coaches and keeps stats.
When did you first start volunteering for SWB and how did you learn about the program?
I first started volunteering for SWB in January 2019 at the Annual Youth Festival. I had just won the Girl Rising Creative Challenge in 2018, where I used soccer as a vehicle for instilling in girls such valuable life skills as leadership, conflict resolution, and self-esteem in the underserved communities far from my hometown. That achievement prompted me to think about what I could do for my own community where I reside – a community that has hundreds of refugees that needed my help in terms of adjusting to a new environment, and culture. When I became aware of the kind of challenges that refugee youth in my community faced, I made a decision that I could not just stand idly by, and with a good platform, I felt that I could help. I learned about SWB programming after viewing the LinkedIn profile of Steven Davis – SWB Uganda Director and got interest in volunteering in the program in large part because of my passion for transforming communities through a vehicle of soccer.
What has surprised you most about working with SWB?
I have been surprised by the huge influx of refugee youths that turn-up at the center to participate in the SWB programming. As a native of Makindye division/community that SWB serves, never did I have the chance to see many refugee youth converging in one place towards a common goal. However, during the Barefoot leagues and Annual youth festivals, I have been astonished by the turn-up of participants, and how coaches comfortably design programs that accommodate all of them! Regardless of their numbers, they are told, “We’re glad you’re here"
What’s a favorite memory of your time as a volunteer with SWB?
My favorite memory about SWB was the Dutch Tournament. I first learned about the Dutch tournament during the AFDP Global professional development workshop. This workshop had many SWB staff that I was to meet for the first time. We played a Dutch tournament to learn about ourselves, and it was designed in such a way that I got to play with every participant, and witnessed every participant “leaving their shoes at the door.” After that activity, I developed a connection with every SWB staff member, including from the U.S. I believe this activity quickly helped me build rapport and long-lasting friendships with the staff. I always feel welcome each time I volunteer with them over barriers of culture. I can imagine what this same game has helped many refugee youths to get a sense of belonging when they play with local/native youths.
What’s the best part about being a SWB volunteer/your favorite thing to do?
The best part about being a volunteer is the warm welcome that I receive, from both staff and participants, each time I am at the center. Their joy and passion for welcoming volunteers is very infectious! It feels great when kids call me Coach Henry, which is probably why I smile almost all the time while playing and coaching youths. For the most part, I volunteer during the Barefoot League every weekend. It is also fun and joyous league to see refugees and non-refugees all playing together barefoot – eliminating the barrier of shoes. I record all statistics during the barefoot league for an average of eight teams, including goal scorers and fair play points, and then submit the results to the Senior Program Coordinator, Jeremiah Lukeka. Throughout this league, I get to see all children "high fiving" each other regardless of their cultural backgrounds and language.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I serve as a Regional Fellows’ Coordinator at a nonprofit organization called Building Tomorrow, coordinating 20 Fellows in 4 districts in Uganda to ensure access to an inclusive, quality education in underserved communities in Uganda. I am also a Founder of Dream Now Africa (not active), a community based organization that eliminates gender inequality through sports in rural Ugandan communities.
My hobbies include playing soccer, swimming, and spending time with kids while teaching them songs and games.
Anything else you’d like to add about SWB or yourself?
I hold a Bachelor of Business studies with Education from Kyambogo University in 2016.