Youth Involvement in Decision Making : Formula for a Positive Change! - Charles Batte

While the whole world bewails what it doesn't have, this young man from Africa proves that you can create a change in the world with the least amount of resources that you have. Struggles in life, with no facilities did not stop him from continuing to create a change in the society, that led him to receiving numerous awards and recognition! Read on.
IJ Kavyashree
Published on: 1st February 2016
Born in a small town in Kampala of Uganda, he grew up amidst financial struggles within the family and the surrounding. Many incidences in life led him to believe that he could be the reason for a change in the society, which took him a long way to become a Social Entrepreneur. Meet Dr. Charles Batte, Founder of Tree Adoption Uganda, a youth led Non Governmental Organization that provides entrepreneurial training and start-up capital for young people in agribusiness, while leveraging on tree planting to combat climate change and youth unemployment jointly. He is also the founder of Empower Community Farm that employs 50 people each season. After years of hard work, his work continues to inspire the world and gain continuous recognition. Here is an exclusive interview with Charles for the readers of IUeMagazine, where he shares about the journey, more importantly, the lessons from his journey.
Charles Batte
 IJ Kavyashree: Charles, after years of struggles, there is so much of recognition that you have been receiving in the past 3 years,  many recently. What do you think has been the major reason for you to be chosen amongst many others to win competitions and awards?

Charles Batte: There are numerous of young people achieving great things. I get these awards just to be there to represent them and tell the world, “We, the youth, have been taking directive action to impact our communities and we are acting NOW! We will continue to take action everyday to change the community.” The awards that I get, I believe, is a proof of the continuous action and the outcome of what I do.

IJ : How important do you feel is travelling important? Has it changed your perspectives of life?

Charles : Traveling is important for me because I get to understand what the young people around the world have been doing. It also gives me the opportunity to inspire more young people to take action. People who do not believe in themselves do not know the potential they have. When I visit their place, and share my story with them, I remind them that they don’t need to ask themselves whether they can make any difference, with limited resources, instead they should just ask, how best they can use the available resources to make a great positive impact. This unites the sense of social responsibility, willingness to work in their communities. So for me, travelling is important because it inspires people to take action, eventually we will have a generation of community conscious leaders.

IJ: Stabilising the atmosphere/environment has been one of the most important topic. What is the best way for anyone to contribute to this?

Charles: Everyone has a responsibility to the environment. Everyone produces carbon; everyone contributes to global warming and everyone is or will be affected by global warming. When people talk about global warming, they want to look at the peak companies that are producing or manufacturing, and don’t want to look at themselves. People walk out of their houses and they leave their lights on; they are spending excess of energy. They forget to turn off water, when they run pumps; they are using less sustainable mechanisms of keeping their food cold. Individuals can take action themselves. If you could wake up tomorrow and say “I am not driving to work, I’m going to walk to work”, you are contributing to the environment; if you say, “I’ll make sure all switches are turned off every time I move out of this office, so that no appliance is using energy” you are creating an impact. So, we need to look at the ways we live as individuals. If you can’t plant a tree, at least turn of the water that continues to flow from the tap; switch off lights if you cannot participate in campaigns that preaches the same. Humans need to adopt more sustainable mechanisms of living. A lot of things that are thrown away, can actually be reused or recycled. So individuals should not say that they do not have the capability to contribute. They actually have the ability to contribute.
Charles Batte
IJ: How was your experience at the Common wealth youth forum - CHOGM Malta2015?

CharlesI won the Commonwealth contest, that is awarded to young people with bright ideas. It was humbling. I have met a lot of amazing people and I am not the only one. It makes me want to work harder, improve myself every day, and improve the community. so, it is not a feeling that I am on top of the world, but feels humbling that my works  have been recognised. Probably, it means I have to work even harder.

The common wealth forum was such an amazing opportunity and such a key event, but was also an important event for me to remind the political leaders that, unless they involve young people in the decision making, and in the running of governments, there will be no success, because young people represent the only hope that Africa has, towards a sustainable future. Young people represent the present and the future in this planet. I reminded the world that there is nothing like young people being leaders of tomorrow. We are the leaders of Today!

IJ : What pushes/inspires you towards attaining our goals in spite of the challenges you face?

Charles: What inspires me is that ‘I am not alone’. Young people around the world are doing so much of work. So, I don’t feel that I am the only person doing this. I strongly believe that, one day, when we add all these small actions that we are taking individually in our communities,altogether, are going to constitute a global change. That is what keeps me going - when I add the positive social impact I create in my community, to the work all young people are doing around the world, we are  actually going to change this world.

IJ: You have been through a lot of struggles in your life earlier. Although there were challenges around, what motivated you to do so? where did you start and how did the thought emerge?
Charles Batte
Charles: It started when I was a very small boy. Not all families are graduates, in the place I grew up. As young people, we would gather around a common house, that had a radio to listen to football, in between which there were other announcements made. The one that affected me, was by a very young girl. Her name is Maria Teresa Nabuto; She called and said “My name is Maria Teresa Nabuto and I have a hole in my heart and I am trying to get money to be able to fly to the USA to get the surgery done.” We could not do this  surgery in my country. This was the beginning of developing my social responsibility, my desire to give back to my community, my desire to create positive social impact, to change things

A number of factors made me take action. One was, the economic status of my parents; the fact that they had a number of children and they struggled to send all of them to school, could have played a huge role in taking action. As I said earlier, my desire to create a positive social impact, is what pushed me so much. I feel much better when a thousand people say, “Charles made a difference in our lives.”

IJ: Could you share a little about your experience at COP21 and winning the United Nations Youth Video for Climate Change 2015?

Charles: It was an amazing experience and a learning experience because, there were a huge number of young people doing great things. To learn about them, was amazing for me. Networking and getting to know to know that, one day, we will be able to walk together as global leaders, to impact not just our communities, but global communities at large.

I will continue to inspire young people around Africa and the world. I did not win this award because I am so cool, but won it because I was born in a slum, I walked my way out of this slum and created a change. Whatever your economical status and challenges might be today, you have to believe in yourself and change your community.

IJ: What are the current expansion goals for Tree Adaption Uganda(TAU)?

Charles: I want TAU to fill up the world; in Nepal, India, Nigeria and every place possible. I want young people  from all the countries, who have heard of TAU, and believed in its goal, to write to me and say, “Charles, we want to replicate that model in our country” and I am going to support them. I do not want to conquer the world; I want young people around the globe to realize what TAU is doing and replicate it in their country. I shall give them technical support, and the model, to replicate these activities in their own communities. May be, one day, I will create an international body to monitor the activities being done around the world, using TAU model.  I just want to see it getting replicated around the world, by independent young people, who have got into the vision, into the mission, to change their communities. 

IJ: Challenges are bound to be faced in the discipline of entrepreneurship, especially social entrepreneurship. What were the major challenges you had to face in this journey? How did you overcome?

CharlesThe major challenge was finances. We did not have money as social entrepreneurs. I took a job in a garage and worked for may be a year after high school, changing car tyres, changing car batteries, and I had this art of saving. I invested all that I had saved, in my social enterprises.

The next challenge was to build  teams. I was in a medical school when I started. People were always busy and I began to connect to more young people. Young people should know that, there is power if we work in a team. No one can achieve everything by themselves. Surrounding yourself with the right people and motivating your team to carry forward your walk, is what determines whether you are a successful entrepreneur or not.

Another challenge was, we were young people and nobody believed in us. People felt we were too young and would run away with their money, they felt we were not serious. I addressed that by waking up each day, working hard and by being patient, so that my small results would show these big people that I was actually serious and actually doing some work even with the limited resources, so that they understand what more I could do with huge resources.

IJ: What do you feel, do the youth lack, to be the reason for a change? What would be your message to help them walk out of comfort zone?

Charles: A lot of youth lack the conviction that we actually have the propensity. We, as young people have the propensity to change things, but we lack belief in that propensity. So, young people need to start believing themselves, look into the mirror, and say, “I can actually do it; I can actually contribute something and I am going to start today.”

Young people need to stop procrastinating; they need to stop waiting for resources, they need to stop making excuses. They should wake up today and say “I am starting NOW! I don’t mind about what comes in the future, but I am going to START!” Most importantly, stop waiting for resources. Just start with the available resources! IJ: How has the year begun? Could you share about the list of your goals for the year 2016?

CharlesThe year is off to a busy start and my goal is to see young people round the world replicate my TreeCapital model in their own communities, so as to bring about positive social impact in the world as a movement of young people who understand the value of sustaining the globe for future generations.

With that, he continues to take action towards the goals as planned. Charles’ powerful speeches have inspired many, to not only just believe in themselves, but also to walk out of the comfort zone and perform to achieve the goals, irrespective of the resources available to them. His life is an exemple of what it means to be a Change Maker. When the smallest actions that each of us take towards a cause, are put together, the impact turns out to be massive. ‘The belief to make it happen and the persistence to continue to act towards the goal, despite of the difficulties that needs to be faced, is most needed to achieve’ is the lesson Charles continues to preach through his action!

Charles Batte was also featured 3 years ago with iUeMagazine, Read his story then & be inspired by the fact that leaders have a new story to share every few years
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