“I feel so blessed to witness the transformation of people.”
About Our Speaker:
Lamech Katamba, ABF’s Africa Programs Manager since 2009, is a living testament to The Albert Baker Fund’s core value of “passing your blessings forward.” He grew up in the small Africa village of Kyamulinga, where he developed his passion for education, entrepreneurship, and community, and where he returned to play an instrumental role in starting the Kyamulinga Primary School that serves 230 children.
Today, Lamech lives in the capital city of Kampala, Uganda where he is active in the Christian Science Society.
Lamech’s career journey has been a remarkable expression of living the Christ and sharing what he has learned from his study of Christian Science far and wide.
As manager of ABF’s scholarship programs in13 African countries, Lamech says his “biggest joy and gratification comes from having the privilege of witnessing how ABF students are making huge impacts in their communities, countries, and Africa at-large.”
Lamech has a BA in Development Studies, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Micro-Finance from Makerere University, where he helped to establish a Christian Science Organization as a student. He serves on the Advisory Board of Asante Africa Foundation, a nonprofit that works with primary and secondary schools in rural Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda; and the board of Singo Vocational Institute in Kyamulinga. He also serves on the board of the Three Rivers Academy, an International Secondary School in Kenya, sponsored by E3Schools.org
Lamech is married to Joy Katamba, an architect and interior designer, and also an ABF beneficiary. They are blessed with two-year old triplets, two girls and a boy.Part of our Net Effect Conversations series: https://abfcareeralliance.org/category/net-effect/
Transcript of episode
Robin: This is the Net Effect, and I am your host Robin Jones, director of the ABF Career Alliance. Our special guest today is Lamech Katamba. Lamech is from Kampala, Uganda, and he is one of our very own, we are so excited to have him.
He is the manager of our Africa programs. Welcome Lamech.
Lamech: Thank you. Thank you, Robin.
Robin: This has been so much fun getting to know you and being able to learn about your journey and your incredible work that you do on a day-to-day basis.
So Lamech tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.
Lamech: Thank you. Thank you Robin. I grew up from a very small village found in Bukuya County in Kasanda District central Uganda.
Robin: And this is your village, your house right here, isn’t it?
Yeah, you’re right.
That’s so fun, Lamech.
Lamech: It looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere.
Robin: Right? Right. That’s kinda like how I grew up in a small town but not a village. . So I, I thought we’d start off with this picture. Tell us about this picture Lamech and why this is so important to you and, and how it’s kind of shaped your future.
Lamech: Well, that is actually my dad and that little man there is standing with dad is Lamech
So my dad was a farmer. He used to grow coffee and banana, but also use to make local beer for commercial purposes. He used to sell a beer, but on the special days, like Christmas and Easter, he used to give away beer for free. So villagers and many other people used to come home to celebrate Christmas or Easter or any other special days.
And among the people used to come home were also my teachers from my primary school. So every time they come home and drink and got drunk that they used to beat drums, you know, get happy. And I was the dancer cause I used to be a very good dancer and every time I dance, they used to give money.
That was the same money we used to pay for school fees. During that time, that’s when the teachers also put to give reports, nice reports about me from school, how I used to pass very well and also how I used to do very good in sports. So the teacher has really made my village mates to like me a lot.
I was a kid of the village.
Robin: Oh, that’s so fun. And this is actually the school that you went to when you were a little guy, when you were doing that, making those impressive dance moves to all your teachers, right?
Lamech: Yeah, that’s my school. It’s called Makonzi Charter of Uganda primary school.
It was about five kilometers from my home. And I used to just walk to my home. And actually there was an incident. One day I was walking together with the rest of the kids from the village, walking towards school, and something happened. That was a man who jumped from the forest and wanted to grab me.
And I ran towards school, but the rest of the kids ran back to the village. I think this man must have thought it was easier to chase after me who was alone than chasing the rest of the kids. But what he didn’t know is that I was actually the fastest. I used to win a lot of awards and medals for the school because of my fast running.
I used to do a hundred meters split, so he couldn’t catch me. But I remember when I was about to reach school running, I looked behind and I saw the man who was actually coming very fast and I was getting tired, but I realized it was actually the bag, the school bag, which was making me slow down. So I decided to throw away the school bag, and then, yeah, that freed me.
And I ran faster until I reached school. Kids and teachers were surrounding me and some were actually crying. I found out later why they were crying. They said, when they ran back to the village, they got their parents to escort them to school.
And when they are coming there, they saw my bag, which I had thrown away. So they thought Lamech had been taken maybe. So when they saw me later at school, still alive, they were so happy. So it was tears of joy. And so at that moment, the teachers decided to move me away from the village.
Robin: That was really an impactful moment and a time in your life, huh?
Lamech: Yeah, because it actually changed everything, because even my grades started improving because when you tell me where to stay. Yup. And as I teach has bought me books as a teacher, almost every teacher was contributing something because, you know, they really liked me because I used to win for them a lot of awards and I was a good kid in class. So this helped me out a lot. And my teacher has promised to me that if I ever pass in a grade one, they will take me to Kampala, which is the capital city, and I’d never been there. So I worked for that. And indeed I passed the grade one, which was a history in the history of the school.
It was the first time for a kid to pass in a grade one. So they asked me, do you have any relative in the city? Because they couldn’t afford tuition and those accommodations. So I said yes, I had a sister who was staying in Kampala in a place called Kauempe and so they brought me to my sister’s place and they took me to Kauempe secondary school.
So now I was really happy and excited. What was very interesting is that the walking didn’t stop. In the village I used to make it 10 kilometers a day. And when they brought me to the city, it became almost 16 because I used to make eight kilometers one way and then another eight kilometers back.
What was very exciting or what was different is that this time I had shoes. They had gotten me my first pair of shoes. And I was so excited to put on shoes. The unfortunate part was that these shoes were plastic. They were plastic shoes from China. And every time I would walk in during the day when it is hot, there could almost melt, and burn my feet, but I never wanted to remove them because I was so excited to put on shoes.
Robin: And how old were you when you moved from the village?
Lamech: I was turning 14. Yes. I was nervous because these kids in the city were all speaking English, good English, and I was the only person who didn’t know how to speak English. Because in my village, the school there, even the teachers, some teachers didn’t know how to speak good English. So they preferred to teach us in, in local language Luganda. So the thing, which helped me a lot, was at my new school in the city, they were teaching French, and French was a new language to all the kids including the Kampala kids.
So I knew that all of us were new to French. I decided to concentrate on French and I passed it very well, so that earned me a lot of friends, because a lot of my classmates used to come to me for help in French. And also I passed my maths very well. So that also brought me out a lot of friends and yeah, it started calming me down a little bit and that I could use to do with it.
Robin: What religion did you grow up in? What was your faith and your background at that time in your life?
Lamech: In my village, I was raised up as an Anglican Protestant and yeah, it’s, it’s very interesting that even when I was a kid, I never really enjoyed the being preached at because you know, sometimes you could see the priests in the village doing something different from what they were preaching.
So that alone made me not enjoy being preached that. When I got a chance to go to the city, I felt a little bit more free from my parents’ protection. I wanted to explore more. So I started visiting different churches, Catholic churches, Pentecostal churches, even mosques.
And that’s how I actually ended up going into the Christian Science church. I found something different, in the Christian Science church and that attracted me a lot.
Robin: How did you learn about Christian Science?
Lamech: I remember, I just completed in my ordinary level. In Uganda, secondary school is divided into two sections. The first four years is called the ordinary level. And then the second two years is called the advanced it’s what you call a high school in the U.S. So after my ordinary level, I was in a holiday and I decided to escort my friend, Luke, his uncle big Scruffy’s and what, I didn’t know that his uncle was a Christian Scientist.
So they were in another room talking about their business. I was remaining alone in the sitting room and I saw these little Sentinels. Do you remember this smaller type? Yes. So I picked it, I started reading it and when the uncle came back in the sitting room, I kind of irritated put it back because I had not asked for permission, but then get someone to say, Oh, don’t worry.
You can have, you can have it. If you want more, I can give you more. So he gave me about 40 Sentinels, and I took them home. I read them from cover to cover. And one thing I was realizing, or what I discovered is that almost all the testimonies in these Sentinels, the were all referring to Science and Health, and I didn’t know what Science and Health was.
So I brought the Sentinels back to this gentleman. First of all, I thought they weren’t for keeps, so I was returning them after using them, but also, I wanted to ask him about Science and Health, and where that was a dictionary. So the gentleman who was so happy to tell me more about Science and Health.
So he brought me a set of books. Now, you remember, I only asked for Science and Health, but at this time he came with this set of books, that was Science and Health and the Bible. And he told me these are; the books were used in our chat. And if you want, you can actually come and visit our church. I was of course, very excited and the following week had to go there.
I found only three people sitting in the hallway and I thought maybe I was late. So I excused myself. I said, I’m so sorry. I’m late. They said, no, no, no. So they said, okay. I said to them, can we enter? Where are the rest? They said, we are the only people. And to me to look, it’s so different. And this, when I said, can we enter?
Then they said, no, no, no, we are doing it here in the hallway. So there was no room for them. And it was that’s where we did church in the hallway and they never had any Quarterly. They would just open it randomly and read. And I actually thought that was the way to do the service. Until when one visitor, Dr. Nancy Dorsey from the U S. came to visit our church and she picked interest in me and she actually disclosed it to me that there was a better way to hold services.
She talked to me about many other Manual- based church activities. So for me, I was now very happy to have someone who knew more about Christian Science, because originally I was the one trying to study and answer all the questions.
I was talking to my friends, I was sharing about Christian Science, and everything I was discovering and applying and getting the results. I was sharing them with my friends and everyone was getting excited and interested and the more they were getting interested, the more I was yearning to share with them. And remember, what I didn’t tell you actually is that I used to be a very shy, when I was growing up, and this sharing of Christian Science, of the truths which I was learning, actually helped me and helped me to overcome the shyness. Yeah.
Robin: One of the things that strikes me is your willingness to share, but also the lack of fear that, oh, there’s only a few people, you know, no big deal. How did, as you began to learn and practice and, and discover, what changed? What was it besides the shyness? What did you see happening in your life?
Lamech: Well, a lot of things actually changed in my life. First of all, the way I was seeing the world. For example, I remember when I was growing up in my village, in my church, they really never talked about healing.
I remember when I was growing up in my village and somebody was very sick in my village. That is when they would call in a priest to come and pray for that person to go to heaven, if he or she dies. And no one ever talked about healing or praying for somebody to be healed. And now here I was reading about how people are applying a way of praying and getting healed.
So to me, that was very unique. And also I remember Yeah. I remember when yeah, I’m trying to remember something. Yes. Yes. I discovered that you can actually pray naturally and talk to your good which was not without a mediator. Unlike where I was raised. It w every time you had the problem, you had to go to the priest and they pray.
They prayed the prayer for you. And here I was doing it, myself, and also another thing, which struck me, was the difference between heaven and hell. In my original region, I used to know that heaven is somewhere up there where you can only reach after death. And here in Science and Health, we’re talking about heaven and hell, right here.
You can actually choose to be in heaven or hell right here. So those, those where I really saw a different to me to make me actually make an opinion. But so this, everything that I was discovering, I wanted to share it. And it was creating a lot of questions. You know, people, the one I was talking to, they were asking me more questions and it caused me to study more so that I don’t look a fool.
I wanted to be able to answer all the questions. So I think that must have also encouraged my study of Christian Science.
Robin: Well, you really had a turning point, as you were moving through your education, when you had a trip to Boston. Tell us a little bit about how that impacted your career or your educational journey at this point.
Lamech: Well, yeah, first of all, it was a very big opportunity. This is something, this was a big dream to travel to the U. S. was really a very big opportunity for me and changed everything almost because I remember before traveling to the U.S., I had plans to join Principia College. I had actually tried to apply, and the application process was going on well.
When I reached Boston, I remember I was sitting in the Mother Church. And then I was sitting here to this next, to this young lady called Meredith. And she looked at my nametag, and said, “Are you from Uganda?” I said, yes. She said, “I think I know you.”
And I said, no way, you, you can’t know me because I don’t even have a relative in the U.S. How do you know me? Then that’s when she told me that she had watched my application. She was, I think, working as an intern, so she had seen my name, and she said she worked on my application, and I’d been actually admitted.
So it was very exciting to know that the process was complete and that had been admitted. But now, when we were doing some of the sessions that the Mother Church, I came across the word, the CSO, then what I discussing about CSO’s. And I was asking them, what was it? So they told him that there were student organizations at colleges and universities and they talked about, all what they do.
And it was very exciting. So I wanted to know how do people create CSOs? Then they say, if only one individual, even if you are one at your university, you can actually start one. And because I’d never heard about CSOs in my country, I said, I want to do this in my country.
So when I came back to Uganda, I decided to cancel my application to Principia and applied, to go to Macquarie University so that I can start this CSO there. Now this was when I shared this with my friend, Dr. Nancy, she wasn’t about, cause at Principia you had the scholarship and I actually had taken it for granted. I had assumed that because she had helped me in my last year, final year at the high school, she was not going to help me at the university, which wasn’t the case. So, but I did it, I wasn’t so scared because you know, almost all my entire education journey from primary through secondary, people were helping me. Different people, God were using people to help me with my school.
So I knew even here God was going to use someone to help me go to this university. So I continued the praying and believing that someone is going to help me pay for the school fees. And indeed, somebody came up. And this is how it happened. That was a student, a young lady who came to do research in Macquarie University.
I think somewhere, they talked about me and this lady, when she went back to the U. S., she discussed my story with her professor, a professor at MIT. This gentleman offered to pay for my entire tuition at the university without really meeting me. He didn’t even try to contact me, to talk to me. He just offered to pay for my tuition. Now I had to look for where to get my application and meals.
So that’s how I came up with an idea of setting newspapers.
Robin: So you had your school taken care of, right. But yet you still had to find a way to live. You had to make a living. Right. So I can see how your entrepreneurial spirit began to thrive and flourish, right?
Lamech: Yeah. And the two are so natural because I don’t remember really trying hard, but everything was just working out so naturally.
So I came up with this idea of setting newspapers, to professors at the university, and some students who can afford them. I could wake up in the morning, pick the papers from the suppliers and then slide the papers under the doors of the homes of the professors. So that by the time they wake up, their papers are right there. And I had this policy, I was not asking for money right there. I waited until the end of the month. And then it gives them a beer, an invoice, and the professors really loved it so much. And I worked like that for about three years in my entire university. Now I also have had to share with you that when I visited the U.S., I met many, many friends.
I met many friends from all over the world. People from different countries in Africa, from Asia, from Canada, from everywhere. And they were all great people. And among all of these people whom I met and made friends with that was a special person called David Maxwell, who was a student at the University of Texas. He is currently working with Texas Instruments. And he came to visit me in Uganda the following year in 1999. And he brought me my first computer.
Robin: Oh, wow.
This was so exciting because you know; I’d never even used the computer now to get one of my own was a big thing. I remember before he came to bring me a computer, we used to just write through post office. It could take a month for my letter to return and another month to receive his response until when Dr. Nancy allowed me to use her personal email address. She could allow me to type in her computer in her email inbox. And yeah, that’s how we used to communicate. David brought me a computer and it was so exciting and I taught myself how to use the computer and Pam came. And I said, can I do something more with this computer? And that’s how I came up with an idea of typing my coursework.
How many people had a computer?
Lamech: No one, there was not another student. I was the first one to have a computer in my class, at least.
So when I submitted my work to the professor, he was so happy and actually ordered all the students to type their work because he said I can’t read your handwriting. Most of you write really so badly. So I want to type your coursework like Lamech did. So they ran to different secretaries nearby all around the campus and pay for their work to be typed, but that was a big challenge because you know, the secretaries didn’t know how to keep the time, you know, the deadlines, but also they never knew how to correct the mistakes that students were making. Most of them are mistakes. So this made me to think about, the opportunity of typing student’s work using my computer
so I went around telling students my friends and my fellow students let’s look here. I can type your work. So I opened up a small shop outside of the campus and I called in people to come bring their coursework to type. I remember typing my first work I was getting from students. They all sat there, I put their bench, they sat there in front of me and they just stared at me.
And I never, I never really enjoyed it. I never enjoyed being stared at. So I came up with an idea of bringing in Christian Science literature, because I had a lot of Sentinels and Journals at home. So I brought them in so that students could keep themselves busy studying this as I’m typing their work, but it didn’t work because now every student who was reading Christian Science literature, they were asking me questions.
So instead of typing, I was busy answering their questions. And so I had to hire someone now to type their work, as I explained to them, Christian Science. And that is how the Christian Science Reading Room started. So, time came when a lot of students were bringing into their work. And I said, now, how can I also attract other students, who are not bringing in their work?
And that’s when I got an idea of opening up another section in the Reading Room. So I created another alternative library and I went around the university, calling in students to come to this alternative library because, you know, in the university library, there were less books and there were many students. If you wanted a book then, you had to book for about maybe a week in advance.
So I was telling this student that he had, there is another alternative library, which where you can actually get a book without lining up without having to book a week in advance. So a lot of students came for these textbooks. But now that we’re seeing these Christian Science literature, and they were asking questions and, and I was always busy talking to students.
So then, you know, it was exciting to see all these people coming and filling up the entire Reading Room. And then I said, but these are the students. How do I attract in other people who are not students? And that’s how I came up with an idea of bringing in a telephone booth. There were very few people, who had the mobile phones, and even telephone booths were not very common there, you had to go downtown to find one.
So bringing it to your community was the biggest thing. And many people were so happy to, to see this telephone booth. And they used to come in and then to use a phone, but then they see, a lot of people, reading and they were like, what is going on here? They come in. And then we talked to them and the time came when it was always very full.
And it’s brought in people from all walks of life to come and discuss Christian Science.
Robin: Well, it’s just amazing Lamech, to hear you and your enthusiasm and your spirit and see how you were so willing to share. And so unafraid, this shy bashful little boy from the village has turned into this incredibly gregarious spirited, inspiring businessman, while you’re going to school.
It’s really amazing. And then to see how that blessing transformed your life. Tell us a little bit more so let’s, so let’s move forward into graduation time. So you’ve graduated now, and you’ve got a thriving business. So what happens then?
Lamech: Actually, before graduation, there is even something, which I did more, because there were now many students were being exposed to Christian Science and that I was even inviting them to church. Some did actually become church members. I also decided to start a CSO in my university. It wasn’t so easy, but yes, with all the knowledge I was getting, on a daily basis, I was able to overcome all the challenges.
I remember for example, someone asking, why does Christian Science, which I lecture one of the professors and said, well, you know, when they are planning to register a student organization, we have to go through all the money, carry on demonstration. Yes.
And they were asking me whether this wasn’t a cult. And this one professor asked me, how many of you, I mean, are you in charge? I said we’re 20 to 30. And he said, you see, that is a cult. You can’t be only the 20 people in charge. And I say sir, I don’t think that is that qualifies us to be a cult because if you are saying, we are a cult, because we are few, then it means even the big churches were once a cult, because there is no big church which started big, they all started small.
I knew a cult was something which controls your thinking. And Christian Science was actually the opposite because we don’t even have a preacher. So you read on your own and discover things on your own, which is actually the exact opposite of a cult.
So when I explained this to the professor, he allowed me to register and I was at, I even shared that with one of the Catholic Dean of students. He had given us permission to meet in one of the Catholic student center. So, yeah. And also what I did before graduation is I did some research because I knew that I discovered that that was a lot of ignorance about Christian Science on the campus.
So I wanted to do something which could help people understand more what Christian Science is. So in my final research or thesis, I decided to research or to write about why there is an increase, the number of people moving from the mainstream religion joining the newly introduced study like Christian Science.
So I made sure that in my literature review, I quoted something from Science and Health. And now I knew professors who are going to wonder where to find it, this book. So I made sure I place a copy in all departmental libraries of the university and also in the main library. So that when they see my quotation or citation, they at least know where to get the book.
This actually worked out because this research is one of the projects I passed very well. So when I graduated, my business was running well, the secretarial bureau, turned into a computer teaching institute center. I had made friends with people who graduated in computer science, so I persuaded them to come and teach computer because I bought many other computers and placed them in, in the Reading Room to type people’s work.
But then I was wondering, what do we do with the computers in holidays? So that’s how I came with an idea of teaching computer science, to students in holidays.
And what is interesting, even those who are studying computer science at the university, they could come and practice because at the university we have two computers and the students were many. So sometimes some students were not getting a chance to get hands-on. Practicals. So they came to my business to come and practice what we were learning at the university.
So the business was moving on well, and I decided to add another business there because I really didn’t have yes, I started it a taxi. Yeah.
Robin: You needed something else to do. Cause you weren’t busy enough. Started the CSO doing a research project, running a business, sharing your faith. Not enough, not enough going on, right, Lamech?
Lamech: I kept on thinking, what can I do more? Yeah. So the idea of the taxi came up and of course I love driving. So this could give me a chance to drive. And yes, the taxi business also, I started and was moving on well, but this is also the time when the Mother Church learned about my approach, my new approach of mixing the Reading Room with other businesses and they felt that was a good mode of doing business or, or exposing, you know, bringing the Reading Room to the people instead of waiting for people to come to the Reading Room.
They decided to appoint me as the international coordinator for the sales of Science and Health in East Africa. And this was so exciting for me. And I decided to do a book launch, at the Reading Room, and I remember hiring tents and hiring entertainers, people are beating drums.
And then I, I invited all the media houses in Uganda to come and be present when you are doing a book launch. And actually one of the, the newspaper called the book, the local newspaper. Yeah, mid is they covered us and yeah, it was a big thing. And the Mother Church wanted me to go outside Uganda, share and train other people on how to sell or share Science and Health.
I remember putting in a lot of books in my taxi car and then drive off without even knowing what the exact route to go to Kenya or Tanzania. But this had up to me because I remember driving in the city in the city and then stop and ask for directions, but also ask whether that is the bookstore and then talk about Science and Health.
I was praying for protection in all of this, you are driving to a new country. You don’t even know the road, the directions. So you had to really rely more on God, God’s protection. And I remember one time I was driving to Mwanza.
The first time I drove to Tanzania and the week I was driving through a national park and I found a roadblock, there were soldiers and they said you can’t drive there because it’s dangerous. But then I told them, I’d driven a very long distance from home, and I was nearing my destination, so I couldn’t stop there.
So they were so nice. I talk to them nicely and I shared with them about Christian Science and Science and Health and I even gave them two free copies of Science and Health. So they were so happy and they gave me an escort, a policeman with a gun to drive with me through the park. And this man, we went on talking and discussing about all the good ideas I was discovering in Christian Science and he was so much interested.
So when he reached into Mwanza, he said, I’m going to help you even look for a safe hotel. And he actually went ahead and looked for me, booked for me a nice hotel where I started making now contacts. So to the Christian Scientist in Mwanza, I called the number which I found in the Christian Science Journal, but it wasn’t working.
I decided to write to them on the email and I checked, they were not answering my email. I stayed there for two days and I wrote about three different emails and they were not responding. So I decided to leave Mwanza and then continue to Nairobi in another country, Kenya. So when I asked about the direction to Nairobi, they showed me, it was actually on the opposite direction of where I was staying.
So I decided to change my hotel and then go stay in their direction, find another hotel. So that’s what I did. And as I was driving and looking for a hotel, I saw a signpost of a hotel and I said, okay, I’m going to stay in this one. I kept on following the signposts and twas leading me off the road.
And this is not what I wanted to do really, because I wanted to be on the main road. But the signs were taking me to the deeper, deeper inside. But anyway, I decided to book in and when I start checking in into a new hotel, I went back and wrote another email from the internet cafe, telling them, the Christian Scientist in Mwanza that I have changed my hotel from the first one to now a new one.
This is when they also checked the email. They checked the email and what was very interesting is the new hotel where I had checked in was just separating walls, perimeter walls, with the church in Mwanza, Christian Science church.
So they came running to my hotel and they said, how did you discover us? How did he know that we are staying here? I say that well, they said they showed me the church and I couldn’t believe. So I knew to us now, God is work. And this, it charged me more. I felt like a brand new battery. I felt now I have more reason now to do what I was doing.
And I, because I knew God was on my side. And so that was a good experience for me during this work for Science and Health, selling Science and Health in East Africa.
Robin: You know, what’s interesting Lamech, cause I’m often asked about how do I get experience, and how do I learn about this and how do I learn about that? We’re always talking about volunteering. If you can’t find something to get paid, are you willing to work, to learn, are you willing to give back, are you willing to volunteer so that in that place that you want to ultimately get to, are you willing to do that?
Your willingness to jump in, cause I know you had your businesses back home that are helping support you, that this activity was really from the goodness of your heart, right?
Lamech: Yeah, it’s really been interesting. I think my passion to do volunteer work is just natural because I did many other things on a voluntary basis.
After I started working for the Mother Church, I also worked with the Principle Foundation, which is found in Kansas City. They had a program in Uganda, called the Uganda Project, and they were helping kids in both primary and secondary institution. And I was their facilitator. I was doing voluntary work as a volunteer.
When I finished that, that’s well that’s, that is how actually ABF also contacted me, made contacts with me. And I volunteered. Yes. Yes. The Albert Baker Fund wanted to expand to Africa. They contacted me towards the end of 2003, but we really started working in 2004 and I volunteered to work as a representative of ABF in Africa for five years.
They hired me in 2009. So volunteering is no problem with me. The main force, which drives me, is the fact that I was helped in almost my entire education journey. People helped me in my primary school. People helped me in my secondary school, even at the university.
So I decided, I promised myself that if I start working and earning something, I’m going to do the same.
I’m going to be helping people to access it. So when ABF came in and contacted me, I was very happy because I knew it was going to help me achieve my dream, fulfill my dream of helping people, access education without actually much struggle because again I was thinking I was going to make money and then pay it to my set up from my pocket.
But now ABF is here, wanting to pay for students just with my support. So that, that pushed me to work all those years as a volunteer. But you see what is interesting even after being hired in 2009, I still didn’t give up. As I continued doing volunteer work with other organizations. For example, I volunteer, I still volunteer with Santi Africa Foundation and nonprofit organization, which helps students in primary and secondary in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
I’m also serving on the board of the international school called Three Rivers Academy in Kenya. I’m also serving on the board of a vocational training Institute in my village, in my home area called the single vocational Institute. And I’m also a board member or championing a primary school.
So I’m doing all this on a voluntary basis, even when I have a paying job. So to me, anything which has to do with education, that is my passion and that more is I always just do it without even thinking. Yes.
Robin: Well, tell us a little bit about what you do with the Albert Baker Fund?
Lamech: With Albert Baker Fund, I’m working as the African Program Managers and we have operations, or our program is in 13 countries in Africa.
We do work with universities, good universities, in every country to provide assistance, financial assistance to those practicing, active Christian Scientists who are struggling to find tuition. And my role is to actually verify. I work with a team of in country representatives together with an African processing agent to verify that the information given to us by the students and the universities is genuine.
Once we verify and confirm that the information is okay, then we pay for those students. But also my other work is to mentor these students.
So that is my role with ABF and I’ll tell you I’m so happy. And to have this opportunity to work with the Albert Baker Fund because it has exposed me to many interesting things. For example, I think I’m really so blessed. I’ve seen some privilege, privilege, privilege to, to witness transformation of people and, and also to witness the kind of huge impact made by these students.
They do on their communities, in their counties. And Africa is as a whole.
Robin: Let’s talk about this one in particular, because this, this is one of those organizations that you work with and volunteer, and they came to you with a particular help need that involved a hiring process. So tell us how that worked out?
Lamech: I happen to sit on the advisory board of the Three Rivers Academy in Kenya, a new international school, supported by three schools and organization in the U. S. So I was contacted to be among us, the panelists, the people I to interview and hire the, the new principal of this international school.
I was so happy when during the interview to discover that the top, some of the top candidates were actually our former ABF students and the way our PhD, PhD, or DAS. So I was forced to dig more for information. I wanted to go back and see, to learn more about these two specific students.
And that’s when I discovered that they were actually originally former teachers in their local schools and when ABF and expanded it to Africa, people thought that it was only for regular students. But I remember when I traveled to these countries and, and told the people that ABF is not only for regular students, it’s only, it is also for other or the students who had stopped going to school long time ago.
So I encourage people that even if you stopped going to school long time ago, but now you feel that is a special skill, which you can change your life or help you transform other people’s lives. You are welcome to apply. So this is how they applied. And they came to do advanced diplomas in education.
After that, they also came back to do degrees bachelor’s degree in education, and then they came back to do masters in educational management, and then they didn’t stop there. They came back again to do PhDs. So these ladies are now working in two different universities. One is working as a senior manager of the university.
And another one is teaching, is a trainer is a lecturer in a national teacher’s college.
To me, this was so much gratifying to witness the kind of impact, huge impact the ABF is making you know, to this country and what they, they, they, I mean this students and what these students are also passing forward to their communities.
Robin: Well, it doesn’t stop there. This beautiful young lady is also one of those ABF recipients. You mentioned earlier about helping your local community and the school. So tell us about how you and your sweet bride Joy jumped in and really made an impact.
Lamech: Well, because, because, you know I really enjoy doing volunteer work and giving back to the community, passing forward the blessing and use what it for me, anything which I enjoy, I want to share it.
I try to entrust other people to do the same, to do their own work, to do, to give back to the community. And the recently, I was working with my wife, this is my wife Joy.
And I was working with her and I to persuade have other big team of professionals to go to my village and help the two schools, which are there. And so Joy and her team, she, we managed it to do a master plan for these two schools.
Robin: She’s an architect, right?
Lamech: Yes, she does architecture and interior designing.
And we did all this work for free. And you know, this, this is a big team of professionals, engineers, and they all did this work for free because I convinced them to do this because other people were already doing it. I had participated in, in a competition at ATL, a big company.
Yeah. Telephone company in Uganda and the way every other year invite proposals of organizations or over a thousand, right. Over a thousand, a thousand proposals came in his company has over 11 million subscribers. So when they send out anything, many people respond, and so this competition way out of a, I think they were above of a thousand submissions. And they called me. I remember I was living in Nigeria doing ABF work. So I received a call from, from ATL and they said are you Lamech, I said, yes, did you participate? I said, yes. And they said, you have won! We are happy to tell you, we have won, your school has won. And we are going to give you the windows and the doors to your school.
So I was using this experience and the incidents to explain to other professionals that look here, you can do this as a social corporate responsibility. And we have been able to achieve a lot because of this initiative. Yeah. A lot of people now I know jump in to this volunteer business.
Robin: Well, you obviously made a huge impact and that again is in your, in your local community.
You’ve really just such a wonderful example Lamech, of how mentoring and reaching out and, being unafraid to, to share the things that you’re learning and what, you know has just been such a blessing to you and your community.
We’re going to go right to the Q and A at this point.
So Lamech, how has casting your net on the right side. And how has it been to be so fearless and casting your net on the right side impacted your life and your journey?
Lamech: Well I would say it has impacted almost my entire life in many ways. For example, I’ve always learned, I’ve learned never to give up. I, I learned this again by studying Christian Science, because this was the motto of Mary Baker, Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, and I’ve learned never to give up.
I don’t give up easily. And even when I try something and doesn’t seem to go the way I intended it to, I don’t take it as it really a failure. I’ve learned to move with things and know that this is God’s plan. So I don’t really see it as a failure. And I’ve also learned how to seek for protection.
I trust God for protections. I take my life. I look at God is Love as a, you know, I always compare it to is the way wax protects the car from the dust. So if you have complete confidence in the truth, which you learn, you will know that you can’t be affected by any harm. So we are always protected and I’ve applied to this in my entire life.
I’ll give you an example because when I was growing up, I used every time I’m moving at night through the forest, going home to the main road, this terrace that you move with a stick, a reed. It protects you. I don’t know how that was true, but what is interesting that even when I had the stick, I was always very scared until when I was exposed to Christian Science, then I knew that actually our protection comes from God.
And that is when I started moving without fear. So that has been actually, that’s a big change from the way you used to see things. So knowing that you are always protected by God is, is, is very, very important in my work. Even when I traveled to countries where I don’t know anybody, we keep expanding, ABF, keeps expanding to other new countries and they I’m always the first person to visit.
And usually what I go to a country when I don’t know anybody, but I’m always very confident that God is going to protect me, is going to show me the right people to talk to. And that has worked for me, very well.
Robin: So we have a question and the question is maybe share an experience or some challenges that you’ve faced during your volunteer work.
Lamech: Sometimes I actually see when I when I’m faced with a challenge, sometimes I celebrate, it’s weird. It’s weird because people are always, they’re at this time when they are faced with challenges, but to me, every time I have a challenge and I see it as an opportunity for me to, to, to, to pray and apply Christian Science.
And every time I solve a problem or a challenge, I celebrate. I’m like, yes, I know this one. So it is always for me it’s celebration. So I don’t really see it as a challenge. It’s an opportunity for me to celebrate again after solving this
Robin: Lamech, you you’ve been so wonderful and so generous with your willingness to share your thoughts and your journey. It’s a remarkable journey. I can’t wait to share it with those who weren’t able to join us today.
If you’re interested in helping to improve Africa and the lives of Africans, you can go to the Albert Baker Fund website and you will find wonderful information there.
And if you’re a student in Africa, I know we’ve had some that have reached out. Be sure that you check the website and there’s lots of information right there. Lamech, and his team will be happy to help you. If you’re interested in North American programs, you can check the website as well for that.
And. If you are interested in the Career Alliance and connecting with folks like Lamech or career allies, or looking for jobs or looking to connect with one another, go to the ABFcareeralliance.org. If you’re a student or, you know, a student, be sure and share with them about our Brotherly Love scholarships. We are accepting applications for those.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And remember, to cast your net on the right side. We have a stellar example of one who has done that and is doing it. And I can’t wait to hear the new stories and I can’t wait to do Lamech Robin, number two down the road, so we can pick up some of the things that we didn’t get to talk about today.
Lamech: Yes, you’re right. It’s true.
Robin: It was a terrific time and you’re so, so gracious for staying up so late in your neck of the woods with, with those sweet babies, they’re close, I’m sure by the side and until we meet again, my friend and all of you that are out there, thank you for joining us today. In two weeks, we’ll be back with a focus on human resources and how we approach and move through this time with all things that are new. It’ll be exciting show with Beth Trevino. She’s the HR director at Principia College.
Lamech love you, man. Thanks so much.
Lamech: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
Robin: Look forward to seeing you soon.
Lamech: All right. Bye bye and greetings to everyone.
Robin: You too, brother.