As a first-generation refugee youth, whose parents left Uganda when I was five because of political unrest, I had always been on a journey to find myself. Life in the United States had always left me torn between two cultures that never fully accepted me.
I never felt American enough because I had strong distinct features, and never quite fit in with my Ugandan heritage because my accent made me sound like a foreigner. My search for acceptance was a battle that I dealt with until my first trip back to Uganda.
As I deboarded the plane in Kampala at the age of 19, I remember feeling a sense of peace as tears ran down my face. It was the first time, I had the opportunity to completely emerge in my language Luganda. For the first time in my life, everyone I saw had these high cheekbones, enlarged foreheads and looked like me.
My search for self is the reason I started a non-profit called E’kubo, which means the journey in Luganda. My goal originally was to give other first-generation refugee youth the opportunity to travel to their ancestral grounds and connect with their language, culture, and self, which later turned into a project whose goal is to change health disparity in my home country.