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About: “Being Sofia is something special, and I love my name, because it means wisdom, and I’m proud of it.” With these words, Sofia began her interview, and we were tempted to just let the tape roll because when her parents gave her that name, they knew precisely what they were doing. On her mother’s side, there are three children, but polygamy is common in parts of Uganda, and her father has three other families as well. This meant that things were difficult financially, growing up, and Sofia learned from a young age that she would have to fight for herself. One day, she overheard her father telling one of her half-brothers to do well in school so that he could help with school fees for the other children. He replied that he didn’t want to work hard to support other women’s children. That hurt Sofia, who was just eleven at the time, but she went to her father and said “Dad, I’m going to be different. From today onwards I’m going to be different.” She sees that as a turning point in her life, and she began to study hard and do very well in school. Her father saw her motivation, and even though he didn’t have a job, he began to look for ways to pay Sofia’s school fees. She worked hard too, earning athletic and academic scholarships that brought her to where she is today. She’s from the Teso district, and her education was disrupted by instability caused by Kony and the LRA rebels, but she continued onward. Now, even her siblings who didn’t take education seriously have come to respect her efforts. “Actually when they see me,” she explains, “I’m just amazed. They give me too much respect. Even the big half-sisters and brothers I have, they respect me a lot.”
Future Goals and Dreams: If it were up to us to decide, we’d try to convince Sofia to be a motivational speaker. But she has set her mind on catering, where she hopes to inspire and motivate her staff. “I love catering because it makes you more innovative,” she says. “You come up with new skills everyday… when you do something and people like it, you are motivated to do something more and more, so that you come up with something that people will continue liking. In other words, it makes your mind reason all the time.” In addition to that, she simply loves cooking, and calls it her passion. Her favorite dish is smoked meat and groundnut (peanut) sauce, a specialty in her home district. She’s full of excitement for the future, and already sees the impact of her time at Sseko. “[It] has empowered me, has made me realize that I am a person in this world, a girl with big dreams in the future, a girl ready to change Uganda, my country, and become somebody powerful.”
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