This is Rugare
June 24, 2016
This is Rugare, the Founder of the Gomo Foundation. Lets rewind to 1999 when I was living in Zimbabwe.
I am 14 years old soon turning 15. I am so excited because uncle Andrew is coming to Zimbabwe again with more Australians and they always come to our home to experience a Zimbabwean home.
Uncle Andrew has been coming to our family home once a year or every second year with Australian tourists for the past 10 years. I am normally excited as uncle Andrew normally brings presents from Australia. This time I am nervous and slightly scared because this time I am going to be brave and make a bold request. I am going to ask uncle Andrew whether I can come to Australia to study.
The door knocks and I peep through the glass door trying to see uncle Andrew. I open the door and Jenine his business partner gives me a great big hug and I welcome the Australians who have come to visit Zimbabwe. Uncle Andrew was not to be found. He had not come on this trip and I was totally devastated. Yes, I do love Jenine but I have known Uncle Andrew since I was 5 years old. After all he took me to my first day of school.
I hide my disappointment and see my future the same way it has always gone. I would be fine. I will study sufficiently. I would do my O'Levels then A'Levels. Then compete to go to the only two National Universities and find a job doing something. I knew how my life should go and look like but I really wanted to experience something different.
When Jenine and the tourists had left, I still really wanted to go to Australia. We did not have internet in those days so I decided to write a letter to uncle Andrew. I shared my vision for myself and my life in this letter and I was terrified as I wrote it.
The next day I contemplate whether to give Jenine my letter. She is leaving Mutare today and I won't see her for another year or two. I shove the envelope in her hand last minute and I say, 'please give this to uncle Andrew'. I hug her and leave.
Everyday, I await for a response. Nothing. I am scared. Have I been impolite in asking him. Will I get in trouble. All these thoughts go through my mind.
3 months later, my dad comes home from work one day and he says to me 'what is this about you going to Australia?' (You see, I haven't told my parents about the letter I have written to uncle Andrew). Uncle Andrew has emailed my dad saying I can come to Australia but there are going to be some challenges to getting me there. I was thrilled that I got a YES. This is a miracle.
There are many hurdles ahead. There is no way my family can afford for me to go to Australia. Andrew cannot afford my school fees as an international student, so he goes to different schools in Melbourne and explains my family situation and circumstances so that they can waive my school fees. The government schools say NO as they don't give scholarships. After talking to several schools, one school said YES, Kingswood College, a small private school in Box Hill South in Melbourne. Kingswood College gave me a substantial part scholarship. Andrew paid for the remainder of my school fees, my flights from jo'burg to Melbourne and some of it on frequent flyer points, he became a guarantor at the Australian Embassy in Harare for my finances. The whole process to get to Melbourne took about a year. I lived at his home with 4 other boys he was looking after.
Fast forward 14 years later. I am 30 years old, a lawyer, business man and a philanthropist. This is how one man's YES changed my life. What is now possible for myself and my life and for my communities are as follows:
- I have the privilege with my brother to financially support my sister at university, who is the first female in the Gomo's to go to university.
- The Zimbabwean crisis wiped out everything my parents have saved and built up. I get to support them when they are in need.
- I get to pursue my aspirations. I get to support girls education in rural Zimbabwe and be part of empowering their creations so that to can pursue their aspirations.
- The ripple effects of my education are not only local they are global.
I share uncle Andrew's story with you because I want to share what is possible in the world:
- You don't have to be wealthy to make a significant and lasting difference in a persons life.
- Uncle Andrew put himself on the line for me to get what I wanted. He was not stopped when people or organisations said NO. Uncle Andrew honoured his word.
- Life is NOW. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Pursue your aspirations now and sometimes doors will close, but focus till success.
- Have a big vision and discover how you will fulfil on it. Enjoy the journey and surround yourself with people who champion you forward.
The Gomo Foundation does not exist without uncle Andrew. Gomo exists to provide opportunities and resources to those to pursue their aspirations. This is not only for those in Africa but those who participate in Gomo in Australia, Africa and around the world.
It is a privilege to go on my first trip in Africa as part of the Gomo Foundation with my uncle Andrew, the man who was bold to say YES. Below is a picture of Uncle Andrew and I on our last day at Peace Matunda Pre and Primary School in Arusha, Tanzania.
What is that you always wanted to do? What are your aspirations? Please share, I always love to hear from you as I learn so much. If you want to be part of Gomo, feel free to private message us.