Wilson Charles

Wilson is pursuing an M.S. at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with a concentration in Global Business and Finance. He went to the University of Washington, Seattle for undergrad, earning a dual degree in Political Science and Philosophy, each with honors. He also obtained a certificate in International Security and minored in human rights. Wilson also participated in an exchange program in Institut d’etudes politiques de Paris in France and earned an additional certificate in International Affairs and Strategy. During his undergrad, Wilson also worked as both the second and first vice chair and the chair of the 21st legislative district of the Democratic Party in the state of Washington. In addition to English, he speaks Haitian-Creole and French. After graduating from college, Wilson went to work for Apple as a product specialist. He also hosted radio shows for five years and did community choir conducting for two and a half years. Wilson enjoys playing the piano. Post-graduation, he hopes to work as a civil servant for the government, specifically the United States Department of State.

The Brave Trio!

04 Jul

From left: Faruk, Emma and Patrick manage the Gulu Disabled Persons Union and are much respected in Gulu.

Seeing these three outside of the Gulu Disabled Persons’ Union office, I wish more than ever that I could be in Uganda this summer to witness them in action.  The work that they are doing will not only positively impact their organization’s own members, but can serve as an example for others in the world to follow.

My first three weeks of this fellowship have increased my motivation to encourage people from all parts of life to dedicate time and effort to making a difference.  Having learned about the three individuals in this photo, I can confidently say that they have the academic achievement and the potential to pursue any lucrative career path just for the sake of economic success. At the same time, their passion to bring change leads them to strive to create opportunities for people whom their society unfairly disregards.

Ojok Patrick, for example, holds a diploma in education and a degree in public administration.  His educational background, along with his career experience, could easily qualify him for a government position, but instead he chooses to work with nonprofit organizations to make a real difference in people’s lives.

As the coordinator of GDPU, Patrick is committed to working tirelessly to ensure that the laws that are on the books in the Gulu District to protect those who live with a disability are implemented.  While I haven’t had the privilege to meet him in person, Patrick and I have been in frequent communication over the last few weeks.  He is a gentleman – smart, and very thoughtful. He enjoys raising domestic animals including birds and dogs. And we discovered that we share a love for soccer.  Patrick’s knowledge, experience, and leadership have already become apparent to me during the short time I’ve known him, and I feel that I can draw from his example throughout my future career in public service.

The next individual that I had the chance to participate in virtual meetings with is Ajok Emma.  In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in community based rehabilitation, Emma has a career background in organizing and education.  Prior to becoming the Assistant Coordinator for GDPU, she has participated in research on public health and disability advocacy and has cooperated with teachers and parents to create more inclusivity in schools for children with disabilities.

Emma has a variety of hobbies such as traveling, touring, and cooking which easily connect her with other human beings.  Although she does not have a disability herself, Emma is determined to contribute to narrowing the opportunity gap that disadvantages disabled people in the Gulu District.  Her deep commitment is evident from her continuing work on the WASH project as well as her involvement in the two new projects that GDPU and AP have undertaken to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the disabled community, the production of Clean Wash liquid soap and Mama Masks.

Musema Faruk, meanwhile, was inspired to study special needs education and earn a bachelor’s degree in social works and community development after witnessing the discrimination that his friends with disabilities went through during their childhood.

He has been with the Gulu Disabled Persons Union since 2014, with the exception of the seven months in 2019 that he spent attending a leadership program for social visionaries in India.  With GDPU, he has served as a guidance counselor and offered skills training to youth with disabilities, as well as worked as a project assistant for the WASH project.

A soccer player and fan, Faruk also started the Ability Sports Africa initiative to support the participation of children with disabilities in sports and physical education, and he currently coaches the Gulu Deaf Football Club.  Faruk’s hard work is preparing a new generation living with disabilities to embrace life with more optimism and confidence so that these youths can fight for their rights in society and become the leaders of tomorrow.

These impressive individuals are a source of inspiration for me, given that I, too, live with a disability, and I believe that their efforts in the Gulu District will yield valuable and priceless contributions.  Uganda experienced twenty years of war that finally ended in 2006, meaning that Patrick, Emma, and Faruk grew up in the midst of this turmoil that resulted in large economic disparities.

As I continue to hear their stories and experiences of moving forward in a post-conflict setting, I believe that we in the West have a moral obligation to continue to strengthen the work that they are doing on the ground.  The world is a global village, and injustice that affects one person can carry repercussions for all of us no matter how far away we live.

Posted By Wilson Charles

Posted Jul 4th, 2020


  • Iain Guest

    July 6, 2020


    We’ve worked with Patrick, Emma and Faruk for so long now that we forget how effective they are! It’s nice to be reminded in this blog. Thanks to these three, GDPU has become one of AP’s most effective partners. In the course of managing 4 major school projects, Patrick has become a recognized expert in WASH and education. Faruk is a first-rate accountant, Emma is a fine administrator. We’ve also come to know them as friends, and your profile will help to explain why. Although you haven’t been able to visit in person, Wilson, the partnership has if anything thrived during this crisis and produced two exciting start-ups that have emerged entirely from the GDPU community. We also know them better as people and understand just how difficult the pandemic has been. Your regular Zoom meetings with Patrick have helped to turn this partnership into a true gem!

  • Alexandra Mayer

    July 17, 2020


    Wilson, while it is certainly sad that you are not able to be in Uganda with these three remarkable individuals, it is is exciting to see how we can create communities and friendships across oceans. Personally, I have found connecting with people virtually to be challenging; your experience gives me a bit of hope.

  • Mary Ellen Cain

    July 27, 2020


    It’s so encouraging to learn more about Patrick, Emma and Faruk. To know they have overcome so much in their own lives and have dedicated their careers to helping the disabled brings hope to those they support and to the rest of us looking for some glimmer of inspiration in these strange times. Thank you, Wilson!

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