Born into a generational cycle of financial struggle, 18-year-old Joshua sets out to rewrite his family's legacy. Leaving home in pursuit of new opportunities, he overcomes challenges that become valuable life lessons for himself and others. Join Joshua on his journey, drawing inspiration to persist through tough times, guided by faith and hope for a brighter future.
I am that person who went to school on an empty stomach and came back home with an empty stomach. I am that person who must work first before thinking of school. I was that child who walked to school without shoes, each step an encounter on rough paths, where sharp stones pressed against the soles of my bare feet.
In those moments, I felt a mix of despair and determination. Despair for the present, but a growing determination that someday, somehow, I would change my story.
We were eight children at home, and there was never enough money. Meeting basic needs was a constant struggle, and even shoes were beyond our reach. My parents did their best, but they couldn't provide for everything.
I finally got my first pair of shoes when I joined Senior Secondary School. I studied hard for the primary level and was awarded a bursary since I passed well with first grade. That afforded my parents to buy me shoes since the tuition fees were paid for.
That first day walking in my new shoes; each step felt solid and sure beneath me. Those shoes, simple and sturdy, shielded me from the sharpness of the path. To me, they were more than just shoes; they were a sign of hope. A promise that through hard work and determination, I could change my path and, one day, the legacy of my family.
The day I turned 18, I stood before my father, my heart heavy with a decision that would shape my future. “Dad, I have to leave home,” I began, my voice steady despite the turmoil inside. “I’ve got dreams to chase, dreams bigger than what we've known here. I want to change our family's poor story.”
I could see the mix of sadness and understanding in his eyes. “I know, son,” he replied. His response was quiet, “Go and chase those dreams,” he said. My mother too blessed my journey. I stepped into the unknown, carrying the dreams of generations with me.
We were eight children at home, and there was never enough money. Meeting basic needs was a constant struggle, and even shoes were beyond our reach.
My first job was in construction. That’s all I could manage since I didn't have any formal qualifications. I mixed sand and concrete with bare hands as I couldn’t afford tools. Each day my resolve hardened. Every brick I laid, every bag of cement I mixed, was building me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Though life was not fine I said to myself, “No matter how things are difficult, never give up, you are the key, always remember that your future is 100% your responsibility, not any other person.”
Life away from home was full of lessons. I traveled across countries, each border crossed brought new challenges. Once, at the Tanzania-Zambia border, a big problem hit me – all my belongings were stolen, leaving me with nothing but a bag of clothes. I had no way to even pay for a bus ticket. I was stuck at the border for 7 days.
An unexpected act of kindness came my way when a stranger saw my situation, paid for my bus ticket, and gave me a place to stay for two weeks. This kindness showed me that even in hard times, there are good people, like angels sent by God. This encounter uplifted my spirits and gave me the courage to continue.
As I settled in Zambia, I started my own business – marketing and distributing health and vitamin products. I hustled for my future, taking on jobs while growing my business. And today, as a Leader of my team, I’m driven by the knowledge that success is not just for me, but for all those children who grew up poor. I want them to have hope and believe that no matter what we go through, we can change the future. They say being born poor is not a mistake, but dying poor is a mistake.
I look back at my journey from those barefoot days to now. The shoes from my first day at secondary school are long gone, but they still symbolize my journey. They remind me of my hard work, faith, and the strides I've made.
I've learned a lot on this journey. The biggest lessons? The importance of strategic relationships, your character, and the value you give to society. These lessons are now my guide. They have helped me overcome challenges and have become my success's foundation.
For those struggling, remember, your start doesn't decide your future. It's about the steps you take, and the choices you make. Keep your faith, in both good times and bad. Stay connected to God, who always guides us.
I'm now focusing on helping others, and sharing what I've learned. Our true legacy is how we help others, not just what we achieve for ourselves. Through faith, hard work, and kindness, we can leave a path of hope for others to follow.
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope it gives hope to those trying to change their lives. May we all find the strength to keep going, guided by faith and hope for a better future.
About the Author - Joshua Atwebembire
A young entrepreneur born in 1998 in Kiburara, Ibanda, Uganda, Joshua has grown into a successful motivational speaker and business coach, specialising in network marketing and business building.
With a personal journey marked by resilience and determination, Joshua aspires to help individuals who, like him, faced adversity in their early years.
His mission is to inspire hope and empower those striving to overcome similar challenges and change the trajectory of their lives.
Connect with Joshua here: https://www.facebook.com/atwebembire.joshua.1