Francis Ssuuna joined the Butterfly Project in 2009 and was a member of the Lyantonde Pioneer group, which recruited children both from villages outside Lyantonde and from the town itself.
Francis was spotted as someone who was prepared to step forward and engage with others, but when we spoke to him it became clear that even as a young boy he had a vision and was a powerful speaker.
In 2010, he came to Kampala after his Primary leaving exams and founded Project Circulate. He and other Butterfly member Samuel Lubangakene developed a route around the local slum area and we provided regular biscuits and drinks for children prepared to run around this circuit. They came in large numbers and Francis learnt how to be an athletics coach, as well as reading up and communicating issues of nutrition to the children that became part of his club.
In 2012, he realised that most of these children in the running club were coming for the fruit drinks and biscuits, as they worked for their food and clothing in the stone quarry and then determined to s
tart up a project to support these children out of this type of working. The Slum Run was started in 2012 and has evolved every year since then, gaining international renown for its innovative approach to social problems.
While this was developing, Francis had been piloting some other ideas, which were proving very fruitful. Vision 4 Change was a 4-day training programme for youth, which focused around developing firstly a vision for creating change in communities, then a will to implement it. He has now delivered this training programme in five districts of Uganda, but also in Rwanda, Tanzania and in Kenya, as part of an international trip he took in 2016 to encourage youth in East Africa to mobilise and deliver social change.
Francis is 21 and has just completed his A levels. He plans to set up a social enterprise in the next few months.