Leaders Formed in Uganda Mission TripJan. 28, 2020
By Rebecca Mowery
Each year as Accounting students and faculty prepare to go to Uganda, there is an incredible level of excitement and uneasiness. Preparations began months in advance to make this trip as meaningful as possible for everyone involved, especially for our Ugandan partners. But, as the team steps foot onto Uganda soil, all uncertainty vanishes, and everyone knows that they were brought here for a reason. This trip empowers students to become better business professionals, more committed to the faith and stronger leaders, thus fulfilling the pillars of Illuminate.
For many people in Uganda, each decision is potentially a life or death decision. They pour every inch of their heart and souls into their love for Christ and being servants in their communities. One of the most powerful experiences was when our team toured the slums in Uganda. Richmond Wandera, one of our partners, grew up in the slums and wanted us to see and understand the struggles that many Ugandans face daily. We met a woman named Ceci, who shared her story with us. She takes care of six children, some of whom are not her biological children, and dreams that each of them will have a better life. This woman who had very little, took it upon herself to help give children a chance at life no matter how it impacted her. Through a simple conversation, we were shown one of the many ways anyone can be a servant to their community. Experiences like this give students examples on how they can approach their professional and personal lives as Christians.
Throughout our time, each student was assigned to a consulting project. The projects varied dramatically: helping a nonprofit analyze potential ancillary revenue streams, developing a business proposal for a new hotel, and working with community leaders to develop a mechanism to end generational poverty. Through these projects, we learned how to navigate through uncertainties and ambiguity as we tried to discover ways to help our partners.
“The team joined the church in the Kireka Festival to raise awareness of the presence of Twezimbe Africa project that helps provide vocational skills to the unemployed youth and alternatives to prostitution, gambling and drugs,” Gerald Isabirye, one of the Ugandan partners, said. “As a result of this festival, 50 youths have already enrolled for the August Cohort. These projects are transforming my community. We love Baylor’s commitment to serving Christ.”
For projects to succeed, we had to determine what questions to ask, how to analyze data and turn it into information, and how to ask for help from our peers, faculty and business contacts. Additionally, we had to reach outside of the accounting program and utilize skills from disciplines outside accounting, such as finance, business law, marketing and entrepreneurship.
The team made recommendations to Isabirye and other partners to help improve their communities, such as getting involved in the Sustainable Fundraising, Narrow to Broad focus, Apprenticeships and Partnerships (SNAPP) program.
“We believe that SNAPP provides practical steps-wise plans to fight the challenges and rescue Kireka community from poverty,” Isabirye said.
Consulting projects resulted in a mutually beneficial experience where students were challenged to make a difference and where our partners were given practical advice on how to improve their businesses/communities. The trip also allowed students to experience personal growth, specifically in leadership opportunities.
“During this trip, I realized that I was too focused on how my team could help me and not how I could utilize their strengths to complete tasks,” Accounting major Becca Mowery said. “I tried to see what each member’s strengths were and give assignments that people were more passionate about, which immediately changed the productivity and mood while we worked.”
Outside of projects, there were many ways that students lead other team members and our Ugandan partners. Some examples of this are leading worship, prayer, overseeing a station at an event, trip planning and organizing group meals. In that process, students navigated through their strengths and weaknesses and how their leadership styles have a significant impact on the people surrounding them. But most importantly, students learned how effective leadership mobilizes people for a greater cause.
Baylor in Uganda embodies the values of Illuminate —Baylor’s Academic Strategic Plan—and continues to aid our Ugandan partners. This trip challenges students to become better teammates, professionals and Christians. We are blessed to offer this trip to our students and look forward to seeing the impact of this trip for years to come.