In August 2006, a priest from Uganda shared the story of his childhood with a couple from New Jersey, a retired nurse and a retired educator with a strong interest in Africa and a determination to make a difference. Father Lawrence Kizito Kimbowa told Jean Semler and David Thelen about growing up during a civil war, the Ugandan refugee camp, the Chicago couple who sponsored his education, and his promise to give the gift of education to the children of the rural villages of Migyera and semi-urban Nabbingo.

Moved by his story, Jean and Dave traveled to Uganda that year and saw both the need and an opportunity to help. After meeting Ugandan children, parents, teachers, women’s groups and humanitarian workers and seeing the schools, the health centers and the lack of resources, the couple committed to working with Fr. Lawrence to help the children and their families in Nabbingo and at the St. Lawrence School in Migyera. With the help of friends from New Jersey, Jean and Dave began what would become ChangeALife Uganda by sponsoring the education of 10 Ugandan children.

ChangeALife Uganda was formally incorporated in March 2007 and became a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2008. ChangeALife Uganda is based in Jackson, New Jersey and works closely with a team in Uganda to implement and manage programs. In November 2009, our Ugandan team was registered in Uganda as a non-profit organization called Change A Life and in 2013 Change A Life became a non-government organization.

Jean Semler is the President and Executive Director of ChangeALife Uganda and David Thelen is the Vice President. Fr. Lawrence is the Director of ChangeALife Uganda.

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