A note from David Batten, who created the Nabugabo Community Learning Centre (NCLC) with his wife Judy, near Lake Nabugabo, just off Lake Victoria, SW of Kampala, Uganda.
After the historic 1992 Rio Earth Summit, I was privileged to lead, alongside Nicola Spafford Furey, Vice President of the Earth Focus Foundation, colleagues and young people of many nations, a dynamic debate at the Pregny campus of the Geneva International School. A need for a voice for young people was quickly identified, leading to the birth and publication of the Earth Focus magazine, which after 36 issues, continues to be circulated worldwide thanks to the drive of the Earth Focus Foundation.
Some 26 years ago, the world was waking up to the challenge of confronting the problems facing social, environmental and economic sustainability. At that time, young people, of all ages, made a difference by raising awareness and tackling obstacles with passionate, informed confidence alongside formidable, committed action on a myriad of fronts.
Today, the power and impact of youth is universally demonstrated; it must never be underestimated. Proactive, responsible young people are drivers of positive change, not only within their local communities, but also across continents helping to increase an awareness of the world we live in, promote respect between cultures and make a profound impact upon the lives of others and the environment upon which we all depend.
Since leaving Geneva in 2001, I worked in St. Vincent and Sotogrande International School in southern Spain. In 2011, my wife, Judy, and I moved to Uganda to begin new adventures in Kampala and in a small rural village in Bbale village on the shores of Lake Nabugabo, a small lagoon on the northern tip of Lake Victoria.
Today, almost all our neighbours have no electricity, no running water, no waste disposal and everyone cooks over open wood fires. Incomes are generated primarily through subsistence farming. Meanwhile, climate change is impacting this fragile community harshly; as it is worldwide. Living below the poverty line at Nabugabo is not easy but you will possibly not find a happier, more welcoming people anywhere on the planet!
In 2012, with the generous help of young people and supporters worldwide, we collectively opened a small primary school – The Nabugabo Community Learning Centre (NCLC). The school is in many ways a second home for children who would otherwise never have been able to receive an education.
Students from Sotogrande International School (SIS), Spain, working hand in hand with the local community, helped lay the first foundations in 2012 and last year built the final classroom. NCLC offers free education, health care, food and uniforms for over 100 children. Without the power of young people during the annual SIS visits, and support of sponsors worldwide, the school simply would not exist. What a truly remarkable achievement; lives have been saved and better futures assured.
I remain constantly astounded by the power of young people’s concern for others, love for the environment, sheer energy, foresight and massive commitment to promoting innovative, sustainable and inclusive programmes … as the entire community at Nabugabo will testify.
Moreover, I am grateful to all at Earth Focus including the visionary editor (Nicola Spafford Furey) the Bellerive Foundation and especially my mentor, the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
To the editorial team and all readers, ‘Be informed, act responsibly, make a difference … and love life. Keep up the great work; truly inspirational!
With warmest regards, as always,