Back in April, so many of you had the chance to meet and hear from Phiona Mutesi, and her coach, Robert Katende, whose life story inspired the 2016 Disney movie, The Queen of Katwe. It was a magical week, with Phiona and Robert joining us at our Gala, a chess tournament, movie screening, and much more.
Since then, Phiona has set off from Uganda once again, this time to study at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. Phiona’s dream has always been to pursue a degree in sociology: “I desire to be a voice for the less privileged and marginalized groups of people in society, especially the girls. I therefore desire to be empowered to handle people’s development by pursuing a degree in sociology. And I want to use my testimony to continue inspiring people to overcome all sorts of challenges and work towards achieving their dreams.
In my struggles to survive as a child together with my entire family I have come to appreciate the importance of what it means to step out selflessly in order to make a positive influence in other people’s lives, improving on people’s well being.”
Phiona’s good friend Benjamin (also featured in The Queen of Katwe movie), was also accepted at Northwest. Both continue to pursue chess alongside their studies.
Coach Robert Katende is very proud of them both. Since the Beautiful World Gala in April, five girls from Robert’s chess program have been given scholarships to pursue their high school and post-secondary education. They started school in September. When we told Robert the news, you could feel the excitement, relief and hope for the girls who he has coached and nurtured. The chance to go beyond high school is a lifeline for the girls in his program, and across sub-Saharan Africa. It is a chance to not let the past repeat itself, for girls to blaze their own trail, get an education, earn an income, and break the cycle of poverty – all while becoming the leaders Robert and others have encouraged them to be.
You helped make this possible. These are Phiona’s peers, who desperately needed the opportunity you gave them. A chance to break free, just like Phiona did. Thank you!