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From “Cry Baby” to Respected Leader

equipped for the future Lawrence, who once was so shy he was considered a “cry baby,” now bursts with confidence at Makerere University Business School in Uganda.

The first day he went to the university, with support from our Leadership Development Program, he could not believe it. He marveled at the expanse of the campus, gaped at the beautiful buildings and thanked God for this opportunity of a lifetime. He was determined to achieve his dreams — among them a passion for leadership.

Lawrence had grown up a very shy boy. In fact, many times he was a victim of false accusations but he never defended himself. He simply cried. He grew up with his parents and three brothers. They struggled through life. His father, a fisherman and sole earner in the home, contracted cancer and painfully passed away when Lawrence was 10.

Life was tough. Lawrence’s mother did not have a job but depended on peasant farming. The family had little food. They skipped breakfast, had a cup of porridge for lunch, and usually ate posho (mingled maize flour) with avocado or greens for supper. On a good day they would eat beans and posho.

This was their routine. The boys grew thinner each day and often fell sick.

“Whenever we fell sick, Mum bathed us with herbs and told us to sleep and cover ourselves till we were warm. She could not afford medication.”

When Lawrence joined the Lugazi Child Development Center, it was a great relief for his family. The first thing he did was seek treatment for a terrible toothache that had bothered him for more than seven months because of lack of medication.

He received lots of love at the child development center and anticipated going back every Saturday.

At the center, children were given milk, eggs, bread and bananas for breakfast. At lunch they received rice and meat or matooke (plantain), beans and peas. Sometimes they enjoyed sodas. It was like he was experiencing a whole new life.

“Our director, staff and volunteers at the center loved me very much. The director treated me like his own child.

When I was in primary grade 2, they taught us about Jesus and the things He did when He was our age. I liked Jesus very much and I gave my life to Him.”

With support and love from our staff, Lawrence discovered his God-given potential and self worth. Little by little he gained confidence in himself and stopped being so shy. He joined the school choir and always stood in front.

Lawrence also learned at an early age to take on leadership positions and to always act with integrity. Later, when he joined the university, he believed he was the leader the students needed. Today he perceives himself as a leader of integrity who adds value to his followers.

In his first year at the university Lawrence became the representative for Baganda Nkobaza Mbogo Student Association. In his second year he was elected as the speaker; now in his third year he is the chairman and leads more than 500 students in the association.

The Baganda Nkobaza Mbogo Student Association is a national association aimed at preserving the culture of the Baganda, a people group living in central Uganda.

It is not an easy thing to balance culture and the teachings of Jesus Christ. And not many people understood how Lawrence could say he was chairman of this association and yet confess Christ as his Lord and Savior.

“I believe that as Christians we should take up all positions. Perhaps if someone who is deeply rooted in the culture was chairman, many evil practices would be encouraged. But I bring change and I can influence fellow students. They see my walk in Christ and I believe I influence them a lot.”

Lawrence is also the chairperson for the Family of Christ Ministry, where he leads 53 students. On top of that, he leads the Leadership Development Program fellowship at his university and is the treasurer of the gents ministry called Men of the Original Image.

He is grateful to all of his sponsors and to his church because, without this support, it would have been hard for him to make it in life. Lawrence is excited at what God is doing and once he is out of university he hopes to start his own businesses in coffee and dairy.

He also aspires to join national politics. His initial target is the seat for Member of Parliament for his home area, Buikwe West, in 2016.

Lawrence is grateful to Compassion and to his church for loving him.

“I have seen Compassion International struggle to see that I reach where I am today. They have given me so much support and so many things. From the time I joined the ministry, I felt like there was an invisible hand holding me up. I was so happy!

I am in the Leadership Development Program and I feel you are really investing in me. You want me to be the best leader, the best future parent, and an honest and compassionate person.

The Leadership Development Program has shaped me well and I am very grateful. Now I feel ready to face the world and contribute to it.”