The first thing you notice about Patrick is his welcoming smile and how his eyes light up when you talk about the environment.
Patrick is a muganda gentleman and father of two, popular for spearheading the environment conservation movement through the bottle brick project in the ghettos of Kampala, if not, in Uganda. Born on 7th July 1982 in Wakiso, Patrick has known a life of hustle because he had to cut and sell trees to pay his school fees.
Fortunately, he made it to university and did a Bachelors in Education, at Kyambogo University where he was the best performer in History in the country. Because he was a good student, his professor at the time promised to take him on as his junior lecturer. Unfortunately his lecturer died just after he had graduated and this opportunity/chance died with him.
Patrick says, “After University, it is hard to get a job even when you are the best.”
That was the end of Patrick’s teaching dream but the beginning of yet another wilder dream that has seen more than 400 people employed, that has seen young people discover their purpose for living and the ghetto community transformed for the best.
Patrick joined his brother that owned a music studio in Kamwokya and it is here that he got to interact with different young people from the ghetto because many of them at the time believed that music was the only way to make it big. So he made/produced music for them at a friendly cost and yet even then, most could not afford it so they resorted to robbery to pay the fee. It is during this time that his life changed while working on a friend’s song. Patrick had requested his friend to pay 25,000 UGShs but his friend went to steal to get the money and that is when he met his demise, stoned to death by a mob. This unfortunate occasion caused Patrick to confront thoughts and feelings that he had always overlooked; he had to admit that something had to be done to change the crazy lifestyle of the young people in the ghettos, to change their mindsets towards agriculture and to create employment opportunities. On top of that there were many diseases in the ghetto mostly due to the bad drainage system and poor disposal of waste.
Patrick’s inspiration comes from the love to change his community and foster creativity in youth to reduce unemployment. He dreams of an environment free from plastics and polythenes, for people to know the importance of tree planting and forest conservation, and are aware of the hazards of littering plastics.
When asked if he is living his dream, he says “Yes, but I am just beginning.” For Patrick, success means to be happy and the community around him, and most importantly the ability to sustain and maintain one's own basic needs.
As the CEO of Ghetto Research Lab, Patrick says it comes with its benefits and challenges too. One thing you notice is how the young people he employs call him ‘mzee’ and he is proud to have influenced their lives for the better. Most of the young people were thieves and drug abusers, roaming around aimlessly yet with brilliant ideas and he is glad to have given them a home and freedom to be creative. However, he is also faced with challenges and says he needs to gain managerial and capacity building skills since he is working with so many people all from different backgrounds with different characters.
One of Patrick’s main achievements is having constructed a structure with bottles filled with polythenes and not sand like its done in other countries.
To the young person reading this, Patrick says, “Believe in yourself first because the only obstacle to your success is fear. Also work, stand and endure, be patient”