So, she was 49 years old when I met her. She was poor, had no wealthy friends, had never lived in Africa, had never run a school, let alone found one and create it from scratch. She knew nothing about fundraising, or non-profit organization and management. But she had the faith of a grain of mustard seed.
Over the next four years, following my guidance, she raised money, went back to Africa, cleared jungle, built buildings and the campus, started teaching and training a core group, and never, never, never gave up. She was like the "Ever-ready bunny" and in 2006, she had actually pulled off a miracle.
The school is called African Hospitality Institute (AHI), and anyone can go to the website for AHI and take a tour around the campus and learn about the amazing work she does to train teenagers for careers in the hospitality industry. Since tourism is the fastest growing industry in Uganda, these youngsters are all hired before they complete the two-year course at AHI.
Self-sufficiency is almost unheard of in Uganda. But Maggie's students all graduate as fully self-sufficient.
After my accident, as part of my own healing, I went to visit AHI, to teach, and to give the keynote speech at graduation in December, 2011. I decided to write a book about this human angel and my involvement with her that, by then, had lasted more than a decade. Writing that book was part of my healing process, as my brain injury from the accident had been serious and I had to rewire my brain to be able to function properly again.
In that process, I guess my soul got rewired too, because I am now trying to live my life like Maggie to relieve the suffering of others, but in a different way, of course.
Maggie with students by Maggie Josiah