Kathryn DeHoyos explains how one man is using the game of chess to empower the children of Uganda.
Sometimes doing a good thing leads to something extraordinary. Robert Katende teaches chess to hungry children as a way of educating them and distributing food. In the process, he has uncovered a prodigy who upends the idea that chess is a game for men, particularly white men. Mr. Katende told CNN recently,
It teaches you how to assess, how to make decisions, obstructive thinking, forecasts, endurance, problem solving, and looking at challenges as an opportunity in all cases — and possibly not giving up. The discipline, the patience … anything to do with life, you can get it in that game.
As a missionary, and a refuge of the Ugandan civil war Robert Katende is very aware of how important the little things, such as food or a safe place to sleep can mean for the children in his country. He offers a bowl of porridge to each child who is willing to learn the game of chess. And for one young girl, Phiona Mutesi, this exchange has altered her life immeasurably. Although she is not yet one of the world’s top chess players she is the first titled female Ugandan chess player, which is no small feat in a game still dominated by white men. As the CNN report goes on to explain,
Phiona did not become a top player overnight. But from the time she first showed up in 2005, her aptitude was clear … She walked about four miles a day to practice — and to get that precious food … She has a fighter’s instinct to reach the top level — and to achieve much more.
This young woman, who comes from the poorest district in one of the world’s poorest countries, is an amazing example that nothing is impossible. With the right motivation, and the tools taught to her by Robert Katende, she is proving to her countrymen and the world that if you are willing to try, the stars truly are the limit.