"A journey of personal growth and how a simple idea turned into something far greater than I could have ever imagined. Today, Humans Of Uganda is a collective of photographers, social workers, storytellers, and digital enthusiasts committed to using their skills to address social causes by sharing human-interest stories."
Hi! I'm Nasawali Leslie Phame Emmanuel, the founder of Humans Of Uganda.
This is the back story, a journey of personal growth and how a simple idea turned into something far greater than I could have ever imagined.
Back in 2013, my dreams of joining university were shattered due to financial constraints. However, in December 2014, an opportunity came my way, and I found a job as a photo editor at a local studio. The job gave me solace, distancing me from the pressures at home and the disappointment of not pursuing higher education. Sadly, my joy was short-lived as I lost the job just two months later. It sent me spiraling into depression, a feeling of worthlessness engulfing me. I sought refuge in the online world, spending endless hours on social media, where I had connected with more people than in real life.
As my struggles continued, I stumbled upon a 'Humans of New York' post shared by a friend on my Facebook feed one late night in 2015. Unable to view the photos or videos due to restricted access, I found myself captivated by the inspiring stories. I read through countless narratives until the early hours of the morning. The idea of talking to strangers, capturing their portraits, and sharing their stories on social media resonated deeply with me.
Fueled by my passion for photography, the therapeutic nature of engaging with strangers, and my love for Uganda, I decided to create the project 'Humans Of Uganda.' At the beginning, it was a personal endeavour to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and interact with people. The impact on my social life and the battle against social media addiction were profound, and I began to cherish these encounters.
However, the true transformation of 'Humans Of Uganda' occurred when I received messages from followers on the Facebook page, questioning why there had been a pause in the posts. People shared how the stories had helped them cope during difficult times in their lives. It was an eye-opener; the project had evolved beyond my expectations. It had become a platform to touch lives, to inspire, and to connect individuals through their authentic experiences.
From that moment, Humans Of Uganda has evolved from 'me' to 'we,' growing and changing significantly since its humble beginnings. Back in the early days, all I had was a simple phone camera, which couldn't compete with the best ones at that time. If you were to scroll through our Facebook page and look at the posts from 2015, you'd notice a stark contrast in the quality. The grammar in the posts might have been lacking too because I was handling everything on my own.
Despite the low-resolution photos and the imperfect grammar, the power of the stories I shared shone through, deeply resonating with countless people. The authenticity and rawness of these narratives captivated our audience, overshadowing any concerns about photo quality or linguistic perfection. People genuinely connected with the stories, eagerly anticipating more. Maintaining this essence has been at the core of our evolution throughout the years. Genuine, authentic storytelling is woven into the very DNA of Humans Of Uganda. Every step of the way, we follow and share stories that we believe are worth telling. Our commitment to caring for and respecting the individuals who bravely share their lived experiences remains unwavering. The bond we create with the people we encounter is not merely transactional; it's built on empathy and a deep desire to honour their unique journeys.
As we've grown from 'me' to 'we,' the project has blossomed into a collective effort. Today, Humans Of Uganda is a team of passionate individuals united by a common purpose - to celebrate the richness of Ugandan lives through authentic storytelling. We've upgraded our tools, improving the quality of our photos and posts, while never losing sight of the heart of our mission - sharing genuine, powerful stories that connect us all.
'Humans of Uganda' became more than just a personal journey; it became a conduit for others to share their genuine stories. The project blossomed, capturing the hearts of many, and growing far beyond my initial aspirations. I found purpose in this endeavour, making a positive impact on people's lives while enriching my own.
As I move forward, my mission is clear - to continue providing a platform for individuals to share their heartfelt experiences and inspire others through the power of storytelling. 'Humans Of Uganda' has become a symbol of unity, understanding, and empathy, a testament to the strength of human connections in a world that can sometimes feel disconnected. My dream is that it will continue to spread love, hope, and resilience as we celebrate the diverse and beautiful tapestry of Ugandan lives.
"Stories worth telling, are worth sharing and following"
"Stories worth telling, are worth sharing and following" is the heartfelt motto that drives the mission and passion of Humans Of Uganda—a collective of photographers, social workers, storytellers, and digital enthusiasts committed to using their skills to address social causes by sharing human-interest stories. This motto holds a profound meaning to us;
- Embracing Engagement: "Stories worth sharing" signifies the essence of our collective's work—seeking out and capturing narratives that hold significance, inspiration, and insight into the lives of people in Uganda. These stories have the power to resonate with others, foster connections, and evoke emotions. By sharing such stories, Humans Of Uganda aims to engage not only the local community but also a global audience, inviting them to be part of the journey and embrace the transformative power of storytelling.
- Inspiring Action: "Stories worth telling" implies that each narrative discovered by Humans Of Uganda carries a meaningful message or an important social cause. These stories have the potential to touch hearts, awaken compassion, and drive people to take action. Through our storytelling, we seek to ignite empathy and inspire individuals, organizations, and communities to come together and effect positive change in Uganda and beyond.
- A Commitment to Exploration: "Stories are worth following" carries a twofold message for Humans Of Uganda. Firstly, it reflects our collective's willingness to travel anywhere—be it urban centers, rural communities, or remote regions—to uncover stories that deserve to be heard. Our dedication to going the distance in search of meaningful narratives demonstrates the depth of our commitment to our mission.
- An Invitation to Community: Secondly, "Stories are worth following" extends an invitation to people everywhere to follow the work of Humans Of Uganda. By sharing these stories across various platforms and media, you encourage others to become part of our community, to actively engage with our content, and to join the collective effort of raising awareness about pressing social issues.
- A Shared Journey: The motto emphasizes that storytelling is not a one-sided endeavour. It's not just about telling stories, but also about the profound impact that stories can have on both the storytellers and the listeners. It's a shared journey of empathy, understanding, and connection. The act of telling stories empowers those whose voices have been unheard, while the act of listening and following creates a bridge of understanding between people from diverse backgrounds.
- Fostering Empowerment: Ultimately, "Stories worth telling are worth sharing and following" showcases the belief that stories have the power to empower individuals and communities. By amplifying these narratives, Humans Of Uganda aims to contribute to the empowerment of those who have been marginalized, disadvantaged, or overlooked. It's about giving a voice to the voiceless and empowering people to shape their own narratives and futures.
In essence, "Stories worth telling, are worth sharing and following" encapsulates the heart and soul of Humans Of Uganda—a collective that is driven by the profound impact of storytelling, committed to seeking meaningful narratives wherever they may be, and passionate about fostering positive change through empathy, engagement, and empowerment.