Robert Okello

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It is 9:30 on Saturday night and we just finished our last dinner on the streets of Gulu. The kids had, you guessed it, chapatti and eggs, as did I. I picked up three raw eggs to boil for Ilise since her stomach was still feeling a bit queasy. I used a pot from the kitchen at the hotel and put some water in it. I took the pot, water and three raw eggs across the street to the chicken man and asked if he would let us boil the eggs in his street stove. He was very kind and agreed. I ended up buying some vegetables from him and he was grateful.

When I returned from picking up the eggs Robert was saying his goodbyes to the kids for the last time. The kids have become very fond of Robert, and he has enjoyed his time with them as well. Robert is probably the most fluent English speaker of the students we have met on our travels. I enjoyed all of my conversations with Robert and found him to be extremely engaging and intelligent. Robert is a 23 year old young man who lost his father to the LRA in 2005. His mother and 5 other siblings moved away a number of years ago and he has been basically raising himself ever since.

He showed up at the U-TOUCH Center a few years ago and touched the heart of Deb and her family, especially Melia (Deb’s youngest daughter). Robert is very intelligent and the Plotkins decided to add him to the roster of sponsored students. So, Robert now attends university in Gulu studying history. He joined us on our trip to Murchison Falls and took amazing notes. He showed us his hand written notes today and they were amazingly clear and the penmanship was outstanding. You can tell that he put a lot of love and energy into that summary of the animals we saw in the park.

Over the past few days we had a slight educational opportunity with Robert and he was so sad to think that he might have disappointed us in any way. Not having any parents makes it hard to always do the right thing, especially without proper guidance. This morning he handed me a letter of apology and said that he saw us as a form of parental support that he hasn’t had and promised that he would not disappoint us again. It is definitely a different world here, where the desire to please others is so high. There are many individuals at home that are people pleasers, but here it is everyone!

Once we leave, Robert will go back to his life as usual. We have decided as a family to help support Robert a bit financially. You can’t imagine how far a dollar will go in Gulu, so $50/month should allow him to buy bottled water and eat a decent meal every day. I am interested in connecting with some individuals in the future with deep pockets and big hearts. Together, ideas and money can accomplish some amazing things. U-TOUCH is the start of something much bigger and my trip to Mexico in October for Opportunity Collaboration should take this whole experience to a whole new level.

As for Robert, he is a perfect example of a young man who has so much potential yet if not for U-TOUCH he might not be here. I spent about an hour interviewing Robert on video earlier the evening. I edited it down to about 3 ½ minutes and will look to use it when giving presentations about our journey. In one of the segments Robert talked about many people just being careless and taking their own life rather than deal with the hardships. It almost sounded like he was talking about himself. When you lose hope you lose the desire to live death seems easier than the hardship. I can’t imagine what that looks like.

I, along with my family, wish Robert the best and look forward to staying connecting and supporting him on his journey through life. He wants to be a university history professor, so maybe one day he can do that somewhere in the world and make the impact he was meant to. As I have always said, we are all here for a purpose and our journey is to identify that purpose and live it. That is what I am trying to do every day.

‘Til next time …..



One thought on “Robert Okello

    Ginger Clay said:
    August 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I am reminded again about the many blessings we live with daily. Thank you for sharing these with us. It changes the way I choose to see others on a busy Monday morning!

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