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Derreck KayongoWHAT good comes out of Uganda? Not much, you would think. Wrong. Derreck Kayongo is a Ugandan

recently appointed CEO of the Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Uganda is the land of former dictator Idi Amin whose name is mentioned alongside other brutal

dictators such as the late Mobutu Seseko of former Zaire, Saddam Hussein of Iraqi, Augusto Pinochet of

Chile or Adolf Hitler of Germany.

Uganda is also the land of Joseph Kony who has waged a brutal armed rebellion against the government

of current President Yoweri Museveni since 1986. Joseph Kony remains at large even with a US $5m

bounty for information leading to his capture.

Among Joseph Kony’s accomplices in crimes against humanity in Uganda and Central Africa Republic, are

Okot Odhiambo, who is confirmed dead in a military strike against their Lord’s Resistance Army, and

Dominic Ongwen, currently on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Like many Ugandans of the day, Derreck Kayongo and his family fled the civil war in Uganda to the

relative safety of Kenya, which has for years offered refuge to victims of civil strife in Uganda, South

Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Eventually, Kayongo found his way to the United States. In 2009, he founded a social enterprise, Global

Soap Project, which collects used soap bars from hotels and recycles them into new bars for distribution

to people in need in refugee camps and other disaster zones in about 90 countries all over the world.

Kayongo has also worked for Care International.

For his social enterprise work, Kayongo has received acknowledgements and awards from several

organizations, among them CNN’s Top 10 Heroes award. He is also a public speaker in demand for his

inspiring, can-do, refugee-to-CEO story.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta is in the birth place of The American Civil

Rights Movement. The Center features an exhibit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection in collaboration

with The Morehouse College. The exhibition contains Dr. King’s documents and speeches.

Visitors to The Center can expect a reason to cry for the graphic display of the human rights abuses

across the globe. But there is also a reason to smile for The Center’s display of inspiring work of past and

current human rights advocates in various hot spots all over the world. The Center has become a must-

visit, along with other attractions of Atlanta, such as The CNN Center, Coca Cola and the Aquarium.

The Center’s new CEO is expected to bring on board his vast experience in developing national and

international programs for human rights in line with the Center’s mission of challenging and inspiring

people from all walks of life to stand up and firmly reject discrimination based on race, gender or class.

Among his major tasks will be capacity building, networking with governmental and non-governmental

organizations, marketing of The Center’s various programs and fund raising. It’s a challenging job. But

Kayongo’s past shows he can turn challenges into opportunities.

By Leonard Njoroge, DM Media Contributor

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