In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting the journey and charitable efforts of Membership Services Manager, Collins Mugume. In 2017, Mugume learned about the AJGA and became interested in working at the organization. After staying in contact with the organization, he joined the AJGA in 2018 in the Player Services Department.
I had to learn a lot of stuff. I didn't know anything golf, so it was like a baptism with fire of sorts. I took in as much as I could and they were gracious enough to help me. So that was my beginning at the AJGA.
Mugume grew up in Uganda, a country in East Africa, with nine other siblings. As a young teenager, Mugume lost both of his parents and had to quickly learn how to care for his siblings. Despite battling the loss and struggling to even have meals on some days, Mugume relied on his faith and own capabilities to work towards a bright future through various milestones. He put himself in college at Ndjje University - Kampala and graduated with a Computer Networking degree in 2010. In 2013, Mugume co-founded Mtoto W'afrika, an organization that is committed to provide resources for children and youth in Uganda and in South Sudanese Refugee camps. Mugume met his wife, Sydney, while she was on a mission trip in Uganda in 2014. After a three-year, long-distance relationship, Mugume married Sydney in 2017. As a newly wed couple, they made the choice to move to the United States.
Mugume experienced a huge culture shock when he moved to the United States. From experiencing five lanes on a highway to finding out what free refills are, Mugume was nervous about being able to adapt to a new country and to provide for his family. With patience and a learning attitude, he was able to make the adjustment and overcome his initial worries. Although Mugume was becoming more and more comfortable in his new home, his work with Mtoto W'afrika never ceased. Mugume currently serves as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the organization.
Africa has two aspects. You have the city centers where people are really thriving and then you have the villages where life is really tough. Picture a little girl named Elizabeth. She is a special needs kid, and the community does not know how to embrace her disability so she is excluded from everything.
In many hard to reach villages in Africa, food insecurity is one of the dominating issues. As a result, many other issues are ignored. For example, due to limited resources, it is difficult for villages to learn and embrace children with special needs. These children are then rejected by their own community. In communities that lack basic resources, it is difficult to grow and succeed. Mugume and Mtoto W'afrika aims to "raise resilient, resourceful, community based Godly leaders for Africa's Tomorrow, Today."
We were going to communities where the closest hospital is two to four hours away. There is no accessible clean water in these hard to reach villages. It's just shocking. This is the next generation. They're living in a constricted environment. The more we saw what was happening, the more it confirmed for us that God was calling us to be invested in this issue.
The name Mtoto W'afrika comes from the Swahili word for "The African Child". In order to develop the best next generation, Mugume and his partners aim to help the children and youth through education, skill and talent development and healthcare. After becoming a 501(c)(3), Mtoto W'afrika has been able to embed their hands-on approach in the African villages in need. Mugume centers Mtoto W'afrika's approach around Jesus, and his process of battling hunger with skills and talents involvement. With their funding, they are able to put on soccer tournaments so that the children are able to have a platform to succeed.
It's great to see these kids compete for an award, and to see the joy in their eyes after winning a trophy for the first time. These kids are biting their medals as if they are professionals and these are all things that you don't normally see in these hard to reach villages.
As a former vulnerable kid, Mugume wants to set an example of how to be a proper leader. It was difficult for him, as a child, to deal with a lot of problems that he was not equipped to solve. His work through Mtoto W'afrika reflects the struggles he faced at an early age and he hopes that his impact will be long-lasting. Through Mugume's experience at the AJGA, he has learned a lot from the leadership team. Mugume credits Stephen Hamblin, Executive Director of the AJGA, for being a great mentor the last few years. He is also inspired by the way that the AJGA develops golf for the next generation and sees similarities between the two organizations. Mugume also donates extra AJGA gear during each year to help the villages that are in need of basic resources.
People are naturally drawn toward Collins because of his intentional and unmatched way of infusing positivity into each day. He has an infectious smile, a burden for people, and a joy for life that is truly from above. Your life will be blessed when you spend time with Collins.
Mugume hopes to return to Uganda, where he can be with Mtoto W'afrika full-time. While there is still a long ways to go to combat the issues these villages are facing, Mugume has already proven to make a lasting impact both at the AJGA and with Mtoto W'afrika.