Navigating Life: a Dream for Uganda’s Youth
David R. Weiss – May 17, 2013
“It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s a well-known African proverb. In Uganda it has at least two close echoes: “A child does not grow up only in a single home,” and “Every child’s character belongs to the community.” My friend Moses is planning to start a Uganda chapter of Navigators USA in order to help be that village, that common home, that community, for kids in his homeland.
Having just returned from a two-week trip to Uganda I want to support his efforts—and I hope that some of you will, too. During my time there Moses was my driver … and so much more. He was also my almanac of Ugandan information, my credibility with persons I hadn’t met yet, my dinner companion, and my daily strategist to map out the next day’s plans. He was invaluable as a resource and is now a treasured friend and colleague.
In a land where even being an Ally to LGBTQ persons can cost you your job and reputation, Moses is a visible Ally … and it has cost him his job and tarnished his reputation. But he remains undeterred in his commitment to a Uganda where the dignity of all persons is honored.
As a father of three (two girls and a boy, ages 1, 7, 11), Moses has a special interest in fostering both character values and practical life skills that will empower Ugandan youth to be tomorrow’s leaders—beginning today.
For those who don’t recognize the name, Navigators is a relatively new scouting program founded in 2003 by volunteers at a Unitarian church in New York. The church had previously sponsored a Boy Scout troop but felt driven by principles to offer the benefits of a scouting experience in a way that was inclusive and affirming of all youth regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or religious belief. (You can find the Navigators website here and the Wikipedia article here.)
Navigators Mission is threefold:
- To bring nature to boys and girls ages 7-18.
- To create a safe environment for children to test the skills they will need to navigate life.
- To help children build their own community to achieve goals they set for themselves.
The organization’s “Moral Compass” (akin to the Scout’s Oath) states, “As a Navigator I promise to do my best to create a world free of prejudice and ignorance. To treat people of every race, creed, lifestyle and ability with dignity and respect. To strengthen my body and improve my mind to reach my full potential. To protect our planet and preserve our freedom.” Cool stuff!
Navigators USA currently has 47 chapters in more than 20 states. Moses hopes to start the first international chapter in Uganda. By affiliating with Navigators USA he’ll have access to curriculum resources that connect kids to the world of nature around them—and to the world of character within them—as well as leader training (via videos) and the material supplies that support a group’s identity.
It’s an opportunity, as Moses puts it, “to provide young Ugandans a safe space and platform to find their way in life and guide them on their journey, develop an atmosphere of respect and understanding while simultaneously gaining knowledge and experiences that will prove invaluable on their life journeys.”
“Our long term end goal,” he adds, “is to nurture a generation of an educated and informed population that will form the building blocks of a tolerant and inclusive community that we so earnestly desire to see in this country.” It’s a worthy goal in any country. And I believe that Moses has the passion, charisma, and skill to use Navigators as a way to sow the seeds of this generation among the youth of Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
I intend to be generous in my support of Moses’ dream. Please visit his Indiegogo.com funding campaign and make a pledge of your own. It’s a dream worthy of your support, too!