Lillian's Story

Lillian Aero Olok, founder Namugongo Good Samaritan Project

Lillian's characteristics of resourcefulness, determination and focus are what describes a leader. The Namugongo Good Samaritan Project is her first self-sustaining enterprise. Here's her story:
Lillian Aero Olok was born in 1984. Her father took a second wife who then gave birth to five children. They all lived together. By the age of 14 Lillian had lost both her parents and has never been told the reasons for their deaths. Today Lillian lives with her stepmother, brother and his wife along with Lillian's young daughter. She describes herself as a university student, single mother and entrepreneur focused on social change in Uganda.
As is common in Uganda, school fees are expensive. When her second parent passed away Lillian was forced to drop out of school in what would be the U.S. equivalent of 9th grade. She took over her mother's vegetable stand. During this incredibly stressful and lonely time Lillian met a boy she thought would marry her. Unfortunately he left her pregnant. Again, with no choice but to find a more lucrative job that would support her daughter, Adiyo Zipporah Faith born in 2000, Lillian says this: "I worked as a house maid for three years and left the work for I could not manage it-for that was not my destiny."
At 20 years old, with a three year old, Lillian returned to school and rejoined the 9th grade. Her family did not support her desire to finish high school and continue on to university; however, she knew she would have a much improved chance of a stable future once completed so she persisted.
School fees were still a struggle yet Lillian convinced her high school, Namugongo Secondary School to pay for part of her fees. She supplemented her income by selling produce at a friend's kiosk during his off times.
School required all senior-level students to attend the entire day thus eliminating Lillian's time for employment. Again she persevered-the school agreed to pay 100% of her fees.
"In 2009, my final year, Educate! (a two-year leadership curriculum) was introduced to the school. I am one person who loves leadership so much and entrepreneurship which were two aspects the mentor mentioned.  I thought: I can't let this chance pass me by. When they called students to pick up the application forms, they limited the students to only year five and I was in year six. As usual it is my habit to stick on to what I want so I ignored this fact. I informed the head teacher how much I wanted to join the Educate! classes and he told me that there is no way i could join for I was a step ahead. But i insisted and he told me to go to the deputy head teacher who is responsible for recruiting the students. She also denied my request. I strongly assured her that I will attend the classes with or without her permission. I spoke to her with a lot of determination. I also wrote a letter to the school directors showing them the reasons why I wanted to join Educate! and my commitment to all the class activities. She had no choice but to give me the application."
Lillian is unstoppable. She is also establishing a shea nut farm through cooperatives with local farmers to generate income and employment.
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