When Serving Others is Service to Self

Six months ago, I declined a well-paying job offer with a renowned global development agency to become a Global Health Corps Fellow. At the time, I had been through several interviews and reached the conclusion that joining a movement of young professionals who possess a fundamental common belief that “healthcare is a human right” was the right decision for me.

As a child who had lost not just one but six members of my family to preventable diseases in rural Western Uganda, joining Global Health Corps would introduce me to a network of young and compassionate leaders who would only approach families such as my own, not as a number but as a community worth fighting for. Through this movement, I have had the opportunity to meet fellows, professionals, leaders, innovators, and most importantly my heroes and heroines, whose wisdom and guidance will be influential in my personal, professional, and future leadership decisions.

I once heard that “no great leader has a monopoly on ideas”, and those who ought to lead well must stand on the “shoulders of giants.” In my six months with Global Health Corps and Single Stop USA, I have been able to work with an incredible team that dedicates their lives to serving low-income families and individuals, both on the programmatic and structural levels. My team at Single Stop USA helps struggling families to secure access to essential and life-changing benefits such as health care, nutrition, legal and financial support. In addition, we work at the forefront of policy research and advocacy, all of which have a direct and indirect impact on economically vulnerable groups such as immigrants, disaster victims, and low-income students. It is through this kind of work that I have had the rare opportunity of being in the same room and listening to great leaders such as President Bill Clinton, civil rights leader Julian Bond, Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Cornell West, Deogratias Niyizonkiza, and author Tracy Kidder.Without wisdom, leadership, and commitment to social justice of these “giants”, my quest for global health equity and fundamental human rights would be more daunting.

Looking back and pondering upon my life experiences up to this point, I would not have imagined that ideas, skills, and experiences from someone with my humble background would add value both to administrative and programmatic initiatives of my placement organization and the people we serve.

My growth as a leader and contribution to our clients would not have happened without Global Health Corps and Single Stop, first by recognizing my potential, and then giving me the opportunity to serve. After six months with Single Stop, I truly resonate with Dr. King’s words, when he said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Through Global Health Corps, and my work at Single Stop, I have began to witness the true meaning and implications of “Ubuntu”, that our humanity and our destiny is so inextricably bound together, that when we serve others, in the end we indirectly serve ourselves.