Beacon of Hope Uganda is a vision of a young Ugandan man Isaac Ssamba who started his philanthropist work when he was just 14years!
Isaac is an eloquent and a humble gentleman, born, brought up and educated in Mukono, East of Kampala (the capital) in Uganda. He went to poor schools and he was a very bright student at all levels, and started fending at 14 as a child laborer at a stone quarry in his village where he left to go to school daily.
Isaac Ssamba known affectionately as Master Isaac is a renowned Child rights activist, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur and Volunteer Travel Consultant in Uganda. Isaac is also probably the most amazing person I have ever met.
Isaac started taking care of an orphaned boy whom he met in a stone quarry (were Isaac too was working to get his high school fees) when he was just 14. Isaac adopted the boy and on the approval of local chiefs in Mukono and his mum, he started living with the boy struggling to earn a living and schools fees for both.
Isaac’s dream was to become a Civil Engineer and he still had to pay for his education through working on buildings and farms but he was diverted to Filming & Photography by one of his “bosses” who is a prominent local T.V journalist.
After partially completing his filming career, Isaac got a job in a certain non-profit (as a Videographer) in Mukono where he came across many people who struggled with HIV/AIDS and related issues, many of whom were infected because of poverty.
“I came to see the dire needs of people and how HIV/AIDS, Malaria plus many other diseases and Poverty was affecting them. I also saw that because of poor nutrition even something as simple as worms could kill many infants and children.” Isaac says
He also saw how the main aid organizations spent much of their time in 4×4s driving up and down paved roads never venturing far into the village to help those in real need and how they spent much time in 4 star hotels. This I think also affected his thinking
“These issues bothered me so much and I felt God challenging me to go out and use the knowledge to make a difference. I felt a strong urge to work with people infected and affected by HIV-especially the poor.”- Isaac says
He attended to a course on Psycho-Social Counseling to get more equipped. Isaac rarely talks about these times I know that they were very hard indeed for him.
He comes from a background of peasant farmers, his family was not wealthy, and Isaac had to work to pay for his own secondary education. To do this he worked in a stone quarry, making bricks, fetching water, working on buildings not neither working crashing stones in a stone quarry nor collecting buckets of mixed sand under the Ugandan sun are the easiest of jobs or well paying, in fact both are really hard backbreaking labor, yet Isaac having completed primary school wanted to go on to further education, his family could not at that time afford to pay for his education so he went to his teachers and asked how he may be able to fund it and this is what they asked him to do.
Now add to this that as many Ugandan kids have to do to this everyday; he had to also help at home and he had to walk 10 miles a day just to get to school and back.
“I always wanted to be a Civil Engineer; it was my dream! But the urge to do volunteer work with poor women, underserved youth and orphaned children desperately grappling with all the consequences of HIV/AIDS and poverty was overwhelming” – Isaac says
So instead of betraying his chosen career for which he had worked so hard to train he founded Beacon of Hope Uganda. He set up throughout many villages a chain of representatives whose jobs, were to report to him on any who really needed help.
Those of us who have worked with him will be aware of the hundreds of calls he gets almost daily from not only the village representatives but from people from many villages who find he is the only person they can trust to get proper advice and help from.
“I was fully equipped with the knowledge and talent to bring hope and self worth to them. Now looking back, I realize God had been preparing me through events in my life for an important mission.”- Isaac boasts
“My working in the nonprofit experience, the little financial support I had donated to some families and upbringing the young boy, were to count for much. Isaac continues
To fund this he led groups of ‘volunteers’ out to villages which had previously received little or no aid at all. These groups gave and still give workshops and demonstrations on HIV/Aids, Family planning, hygiene, nutrition, human rights and many other subjects plus Isaac and his teams give advice and help to those with HIV and other problems as well helping his fellow Projects Managers.
The fees he got from these groups and individuals were the sole source of income for Isaac and BoHU but gradually as time went on several of the volunteers realized just how valuable and unique a service Isaac and BoHU were providing and have all helped to send some monies to help the BoHU cause.
After his hardworking background, a Ugandan Youth minister appointed him his personal assistant and advisor on youth projects. He has also served in several capacities with the Ministry for Youth in Uganda, assisting youth groups to set up income generating projects.
He is a patron of two youth organizations and serves on several boards of other small nonprofit organizations across Uganda.
“He is one person whom you bring aboard a community project and count it done, he has the funding voice, the network, the voice and he is very talented in raising funds”.- one Project Manager confesses
Isaac served for one year as Country Coordinator for a U.K based volunteer travel agency WAVA (now TWIN) and is currently the Country Representative for The Society for Environmental Exploration- (Frontier U.K),a U.K based volunteer travel agency, Country Coordinator for Volunteering Solutions- an Indian based volunteer travel agency, and Country Coordinator- Arm In Arm Volunteers- a Canadian based volunteer. He is the Chairman for Tzedek Uganda Forum- a network of all organizations funded and supported by Tzedek International in Uganda.
Isaac has also step up several small business for himself and to support the projects run by Beacon of Hope Uganda and its partners. These include: Wanderlust Safaris & Tours, a travel and tourism arm of Beacon of Hope Uganda, Mukono Travelers’ Home- a hospitality arm in bed and breakfast guesthouse, Go Volunteer Africa- an online volunteer travel agency and several other projects.
One of the most unique things about BoHU is that not one penny is taken out in personal expenses; every cent is spent in Uganda at real grass roots level. Isaac has no fashionable clothes, bling-bling or any other of the accouterments so much loved by most African men; he still works 7 days a week and often 18 to 20 hours a day he will hate me for telling people this but I believe it is important for them to know this. However perhaps the most amazing fact of all this is that Isaac is still only 29 years old. (Born 14th/July/1987)
Isaac currently serves as the Chairman of Beacon of Hope Uganda and the Head of Operations. Isaac has a big passion for online marketing and as a consultant he has raised over 1 million dollars for organizations in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Isaac has extensive experience in fundraising, organizational management and leadership development.
Volunteer with Beacon of Hope Uganda and you will become part of the story of a legend in the making for Isaac Ssamba truly is a man and a half.- Mark Williams (Former Volunteer)