Christopher Ategeka: From orphan to entrepreneur

“Life got really good,” Ategeka laughed. “They bought me a bicycle and gave me three meals a day, which is a luxury, by the way.”

Talk about perspective. It’s a bit of a challenge to summarize Christopher Ategeka’s amazing life story in a few words, but I honestly feel that I have to share this with everyone I know right now.

Christopher is an orphan in Uganda who lost his mother and father to AIDS at the age of seven. With his love of learning burning in him, he attempted to go to school through a charity and was denied due to lack of funds. When he was 12 however, an American couple, Michael and Martha Helm, offered to sponsor him through a church-based NGO and orphanage Y.E.S. Uganda. His drive and discipline impressed the couple, who continued to offer him the chance to live with them in California so he can continue his education.

But the story does not end there. Christopher then proceeded to graduate with a masters degree in UC Berkeley and has since founded a non-profit organization, Rides for Lives. His group’s goal is to create jobs in Uganda while solving transportation problems for rural Africans — including bike ambulances that will increase the chance of survival for ailing locals. And he’s not even 30.

This whole story reminds me of the power of determination, the human soul’s resilience, that sort of brilliance that cannot be silenced, and equally important, how the kindness of strangers can turn a life around. The perspective it offers some of us, who have the good fortune of living in first-world countries is remarkable and completely humbling. What a positive inspiration for starting the work week.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Read his full story in

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