Heroes award: Before-After

It is exactly one month since I won the ‘Heroine of the Year award’ as a young achiever.

I decided to wait this long before I could recount the details so that I could give an honest description of the event sans being blurred by excitement. Additionally, I needed to ‘feel’ the difference it would come with so here goes.


Support; I had some members of my family and 40-40 in the audience. Even if I could not make eye contact, especially during the speech, knowing they were out there somewhere gave me great comfort.

Other nominees: Although my category was not ‘competitive,’ I was particularly humbled by other winners that night. The first one was Phiona Mutesi who is a chess champion from the slums of Katwe.

She has competed internationally and I was lucky to have watched her story on a documentary earlier in the year. I later did research. I was blown away the more I read about her beating the odds to play chess with a past that didn’t seem to hint she would have such amazing potential. She is the role model Ugandan children and teenagers need a true fighter.

Seeing her accept her award left me in awe. She was shy, clumsy but most of all, real.

Although Addmaya( Peter Mukiibi and Arthur Nakkaka) had been nominated for the Business Entrepreneurship award for their work in film and graphics, they did not win until the night was coming to an end. They were clearly excited by their ‘overall achiever’ award and it was evident on their cheerful faces.

Peter openly wept for a few minutes as his business partner; Arthur mustered the courage to speak for them both. Peter later picked himself up later and gave an emotional speech that warmed our hearts.

I didn’t trip! : So, all week I had been having dreams in which I tripped on stage and after picking myself up, I started to stammer before finally accepting defeat. None of this happened. It was one dream I was happy did not come true!

Spirit filled speech: I have a slight addiction to notebooks and writing anything and everything so it was difficult to pick which notebook would ‘attend’ the awards. Kidding!

I struggled to come up with a speech for D-day especially given the calibre of guests I would be addressing. It wasn’t so much the content as the pressure to rightly deliver and give them a reason to remember 40-40 long after that night. I did not feel prepared and the pressure was even more because as opposed to other winners, I wasn’t just there to ‘thank the world,’ I needed to also solicit support and make use of the platform like my life depended on it.

The MC kept telling winners to keep it to less than five minutes, some took even one minute.

I finally decided I would ignore the time factor and speak my heart out.

According to my plan, I was going to start with a brief history of where we have come from and then trying to ‘sell’ our future plans. I was caught off guard when Awel, team leader at YAA called me up and read a profile that left me shaking. The whole time I was torn between two trains of thought. “Is that really me he is talking about and what in the world am I going to say after that?”

Well, I somehow managed to speak. The spirit took over and left ‘Estar fierce’ to speak as the real me took a back seat.

I honestly did not think much of the speech at the moment. I just needed to get safely back to my seat. It was the other speakers’ remarks that followed  which left me speechless.

From glowing remarks about our organisation’s work to speaker’s observations on my oratory skills, I had to pinch myself to confirm it had really happened.

I got onto the social media and was humbled my friends and strangers alike. Phew! The hard part was over and I somehow overcame it. Winning!


Several speakers pledged to support our cause shortly after I spoke. One passed me a note as the function came to an end. It was all really exciting. Knowing a new year was fast approaching, these new partnerships would help build our networks and take us to the next level.


After the do, I simply stood close to the entrance. From familiar to new faces, I shook hands and hugged tonnes of people. Dignitaries, business men+ women, old school friends, everyone was there.

It was all new to me. I had grown accustomed to introducing myself, describing what 40-40 does and waiting for the positive or negative feedback. In this moment though, it wasn’t a struggle. They all knew who we were, sort of.

Oh the business cards I exchanged and received! The promises, compliments and ‘I will call you(s).’ Hehe, I did not care if they were lies. I did not know when this would next happen in my lifetime. I tried to relish it all.

Who stood out?

The little boy, 7-8 years old who walked over to me and handed me 5,000sh is small notes. His mum(I am assuming) brought him and said he had something to say. He told me it was his contribution and walked away. I followed him and gave him the tightest hug of the night.

The Makerere college head girl who had the widest smile ever. She was excited about having been present to listen to my speech and needed to know how to join us. It pleased me greatly since we aim to impact as many young people as possible.

Yes, I met politicians and other ‘important’ people but those were the two whose encounter still means something to me a month later.

What does it all mean?

People like successful people. Among the people who were excited to ‘meet’ me included individuals I had previously approached to support our cause and they could not care less. One of them, I even spoke to at the cocktail half an hour before the event, but I was ‘suddenly’ impressive at the end of the night. It is what it is.

Human beings like to be ‘seen’ and associated with good will whether or not they actually get involved. Several people were probably ‘pressured’ to offer contributions or show interest because it looked good. In reality though, they could not care less. How do I know? Let us just say one month is enough time for follow up and reflection.

Attention. I understand that the nature of my work requires me to get out of my comfort zone. With all the ‘begging’ ( read fundraising)  I do, it is difficult to hide even if I tried.  People want to put a face to this story and I am more than proud to be associated with the cause and my amazing team members. However, there are people who are using it to pounce and cloud what is meant to be a good thing. The attention is a necessary evil. Must find the lighter side to it though, working on it.

Same ol’ G (G for girl in this case)

Like everyone who has been in the limelight before, I know that it comes and goes. Lucky for me I am not in a ‘business’ that requires I keep up with trends and demands from the public- not directly anyway.  The team and I shall remain relevant by constantly doing what we do, only better.

Fortunately, I have embraced everything that came with this one night.  I know some relationships shall materialise months from now and others shall prove unfavourable. All the same, I am ready.

At the end of the day, you are who you are whether you have hundreds of medals or just one child who thinks you are his superhero.  Passion is meant to be seen so I will wear it with pride.

Perhaps the most outstanding memory of the Heroes Award was its timing. 2013 had been a year so trying I lost myself in many ways and had to find myself all over, sometimes daily. It was difficult for the organisation and for me as an individual too, yet work had to go on. In a period of one month and a half, we had three awards literally from ‘nowhere’ and it left me baffled by God’s ways.

As this year began, many people laced their new year messages with ‘2013 was your year,’ I laughed! It had been quite the opposite, most of it anyway. They had a point though, it was my year of learning and growth no doubt. This year though, lessons must be put into practice.

To infinity and beyond 🙂

“When we focus on leading a passionate, meaningful life, we are also inadvertently creating a spectacular ripple effect of inspiration in the lives around us.  When one person follows a dream, tries something new, or takes a daring leap, everyone nearby feels their passionate energy; and before too long, they are making their own daring leaps while simultaneously inspiring others.”

YAA pic

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