Sometimes leadership does not mean being an industry bigwig sitting on millions of corporate revenue. Sometimes, it just means being a servant to others and making an impact that resonates around the world. When philanthropreneur and social impactologist, Proscovia Namazzi realized that she was called upon to serve children around the world, she did not take a moment’s hesitation and wholeheartedly dedicated her whole life to that cause. Known affectionately as “Precious,” Proscovia is the founder of Precious Kids Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to treating, educating, and empowering underserved orphans, widows, and single mothers in rural communities in Uganda and across Africa. Joining Alicia Couri on the episode, Precious shares her inspiring story and powerful message for the entire world to hear.
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Global Servant Leadership With Proscovia “Precious” Namazzi
In this episode, I have the amazing Precious Proscovia. She has the Precious Kids Foundation. Let me tell you a little bit about Precious Proscovia Namazzi. Precious, as many fondly call her, is a global child advocate, a neuroscience nurse and a social impactologist. She strategically combines her nursing and social entrepreneurship background to prevent premature deaths in children and empower women while coaching many to become philanthropreneurs and social impactologists to serve, impact and leave a legacy. There is so much that Precious Proscovia does here. We were talking about her name, which is Russian. First of all, where does the name Proscovia come from?
Whenever I’m with my patients’ rooms, I say, “Proscovia. The easiest way to say it is like Italiano,” but it has a Russian background. I was born and raised in Uganda. It’s common in Uganda. No, we were not colonized by the Russians. The next thing I know it’s like, “The Russians?” Some of them are like, “Are you Russian?” I’m like, “No.” My mom went to college with a friend called Proscovia. She wanted to name her firstborn for Proscovia. My dad says, “No. The firstborn is your name.” The second-born came around and my mom was like, “I want Proscovia.”
You became Proscovia. How did you get the nickname Precious?
Proscovia means a precious girl. Nigeria has a meaning to almost every name. When they hear Proscovia, they’re like, “What does it mean?” At that time, I didn’t know what it meant. I hadn’t traveled much. He looked at me and was like, “How about Precious?” I’m like, “A precious girl, it is.” Since ‘94 or ‘95, I’ve been called Precious.
You are precious. It’s a beautiful soul. We met in the Network of Influence and I have been waiting to have a conversation with you. There is so much listed in her bio. It was 2-feet long. I could only read a half-inch of it. We talked about philanthropreneurs, social impactologists and a global child advocate. Those are some big huge words and shoes to fill. Since this show is called Leading with Audacious Confidence, how do you lead a movement that is so big? How do you get the confidence to lead something so big?
The confidence comes in from knowing your life purpose. Each of us was created with a life purpose. Once you find that, and you walk into which you walk to fulfill those shoes, I would call them. Once you do that, that’s where you slowly build the confidence. I would not dare say, “Yes, you’re now confidently doing it,” but it’s more you’re fulfilling the calling upon your life. Each of us at any one point are gifted, talented. The experiences we’re going through have crafted the person that we are, but then it almost crafted you into who you have been called to be.
When I talk about The Seven Steps Audacious Confidence, I talk about your TAGS, which I call your Talents, Assets, Gifts, and Skills. It’s important to catalog those things so you know those things about you and you have them. That helps you build confidence because when you step into an arena that’s unfamiliar to you, you already know what your talents, gifts, and skills are and you have those assets already. I’m glad you said that. You were a neuroscience nurse. What did you do as a neuroscience nurse?
For several years, I have been blessed to be a neuroscience nurse. Neuroscience has to go with the brain and what makes you, but it comes from the core of your brain. I can go medical on that but also the psychological part of it.
Which do you prefer to practice in, the medical or the psychological?
I combine them. One of my favorite things is I combine it. The beauty of life it’s not a one-sided thing.Once you’re called to your life purpose, you’re answering not only a call to you but to a prayer from somebody else. Click To Tweet
It’s not one dimensional.
No, it is not. The beauty of what makes life is the combination. Once you see that this one fits into the other one and you put them together it becomes this beautiful flower, which sometimes I call a rainbow. It becomes this beautiful rainbow with so many things put in it to make it what it is. What I prefer is I like the medical side because I’m medical, but the psychology side as well because a lot of our behavior creates who we are. It impacts the medical side of it.
I always thought I would be a psychologist when I was growing up. I didn’t turn out to be a psychologist. In the field that I work in, we use a lot of brain science and behavioral science to understand why people do what they do, how they do, what motivates them, and what their instincts are for doing. We use a lot of these different brain science assessments to help people understand themselves. In that way, we have that in common. I love anything to do with the brain and behavior.
I’m fascinated by that. In that way, it helps you understand people. When you’re called to go and work with people, it goes deeper. It’s not on the surface, it goes deeper. Once you understand what makes this person behave the way they’re behaving, why are they acting like this, what can I do to reach out to them in the way they understand? Once you understand those things, it helps you work with people more effectively.
Let’s dive into it. There are so many great things here. Philanthropreneur, I’m having a hard time saying it.
It’s combining the philanthropist and the entrepreneur in me.
You’ve started a nonprofit organization called Precious Kids Foundation. Your mission is to treat, educate, and empower the underserved orphans, widows, and single mothers in rural communities in Uganda and across Africa. How did that come about for you?
I’ve been in the US for many years, but it started way before I came here. When I was younger, my mom used to tell me that I would gather kids around in the veranda and I would play mommy. I would cook food out of dirt like soil and pretend I’m serving them meals. I am technically the third born, but alive, the second born because my mother died in between, but I’m the third of four children. When God creates you and you start off when you’re young, I have taken on being in position as if I’m the firstborn. I used to take care of my sister when she was younger and would give her shots because she had sickle cell. I started it from there. I was taking care of people when I was younger.
My heart would go to those people who, if I find you in a corner, you’re isolated, nobody’s coming to you, I’m drawn to coming to you. I’m like, “Please come in.” My mom told me that I had a pair of shoes that she bought and that was when I was 7 or 10 years old. I called everybody my sister. I found my sister and she didn’t have shoes at school. I took off one shoe, gave her the other and we proudly came walking home. I’m like, “I give my sister a shoe.” She stopped me for that and she’s like, “If you had to do something good, you give both shoes, not only one.” I would say it started from when I was younger, the inborn side of God’s creation.
You’re a natural giver from the heart. You’re living here for many years. You came from Uganda and Uganda is where you were born and grew up. How did the mission to start this foundation in Uganda start for you?
It started off as a longing. At this time, I’m here in the US and now I am becoming more mature and I’m getting into my place as me, a person. As I was starting nursing, I connected with a person in 2006, who prior to all of this, I would be dreaming of going back to Uganda and my heart was starting an orphanage. My heart was like, “I need to take care of some people.” It was in my heart. Little did I know that’s a prayer that’s going to be answered in 2006. I found a gentleman who was a preacher, but he was living in another country. He had some kids that he was taking care of in a rural area in Uganda. The challenge he had was he didn’t maybe have the skills to make it an organization. He needed managerial leadership skills to do that. The connection comes in, my desire met his needs. He always says he prayed for me into existence. I went to Uganda. It happened to be when I was physically going to Uganda in August of 2006. When I went there, I went to see the location, the kids and my heart were like, “Yay.”
This is the right thing.
It feels good. I come back in December and I’m like, “Now what?” With what I always say, “God inspires direction.” I started on like, “Let’s start doing something even if it’s to make sure we provide a school for them in their benefits like daily meals and training. For the women, they can’t sit there, what can we do for them to use their skills and talents?” I did that as an international director for a few years. Later on, the Precious Kids Foundation came because in between there had some life challenges. I lost my dad, went through some of the life challenges and I had to step back. When you have a calling in you, it never dies. It’s like, “Take care of yourself, but come back.”
You do these missions and you gather entrepreneurs, which is so amazing because you take entrepreneurs who have never been to Africa maybe or never done anything. You have this mission where you take them and go to Africa. How long is it? Is it two weeks where you’re working with the children and giving some medical aid? Explain what it is that you do with entrepreneurs.
When you look at what your life purpose is and once you find it, you have to keep filling those shoes. Once you’re called to do that, you’re answering a call not only to you but to a prayer from somebody else. For several years, at that time, I had been taking care of orphans, widows and single moms providing school, skills development, entrepreneurship skills development, and all that. Once my dad passed in 2015, and three months later, my aunt passed away. Six months later, my remaining grandmother passed away. Back to back, I had personal deaths that happened in less than a year. There’s this saying, “Turn your mess into your message.” There was a divine thing where I felt like, “You have taken care of orphans. An orphan by the time they become an orphan or widow, somebody passed.”
Using the mixture of my neuroscience RN in the mixture of a divine direction and knowing, “Can we do something to prevent the premature death that happens that causes orphans and widows now that you’ve experienced a premature death in your life?” One of my main prayers every time when something happens to me, I’m like, “Lord, use my pain and not let it go to waste. Use it.” That becomes like, “Let’s go and make sure we conduct massive medical missions.” I contact doctors, nurses, and entrepreneurs. We gathered them. We go to Uganda. We set up different tents in a big area, maybe an acre worth of land. We set up tents. Each tent is a doctor with a specialty.
It could be a general doctor, pediatrician or different doctors. Also, dentists, we have them. When people come in, they come in from one tent to another. It’s free of charge. One of the mandates I have to fulfill is to make sure everything is free of charge. These are people who have gone years without seeing a doctor and they’re having illnesses that are causing premature death. If we treat them that can be prevented, therefore, we don’t have so many orphans and widows so we do that.
I feel overwhelmed by the amount of what you’re doing. I know you said this is all divinely directed so I know that the provision was made. In contacting the doctors and everything, where did you find the funds to set up these massive medical facilities in these places?
When you say that it’s funded or facilitated, it’s out of pocket. Especially in the beginning stages, I had to empty out my 401(k), savings and you go in because this is something deep-rooted in you that you feel you have to do. The doctors come on board to help us, but we have to do the funding of activities that are going to be taking place.
The tents, medical equipment, the supplies, the medicine, and everything else that has to happen so that it was all self-funded at the beginning.
Maybe 50% on the next one because we’ve done two massive ones. In 2018, we treated about 4,700 and in 2019, we treated about 5,000, so those are the two years. 2020 has gone empty because of what’s happening around the world with COVID. The second one was 50% self-funded.When you serve people, you're not serving at them, you're serving with them. Click To Tweet
You set up these massive tents because I’m talking about leadership here. This is a show on leadership. This, to me, is such a massive undertaking. You have displayed some courage, boldness and audaciousness in leading the charge on this because you have the vision. You are leading the charge on this and now you are in a position where you’re enrolling other people to get involved. Not only the volunteers, the doctors and the nurses, but you need a lot of support to get this rolling. You set up all the tents. You’re helping these people, but the help doesn’t stop with giving them that one day of care. What else is involved in what you’re doing?
The combination of a strategic philanthropist, that’s when you know a lot of diseases and a lot of things that happened is rooted in poverty. If they had the medication, they would have been okay. If that man had antibiotics to treat his wound, he wouldn’t have died. Therefore, we don’t have orphans and widows because of that. In order to go beyond the medical mission, and one of my taglines is, “Go beyond medical missions.” You need to empower them with economic empowerment.
The reason why I take doctors, nurses and entrepreneurs is because with that mixture, we are going to treat, educate them, and empower them through economic empowerment. Skills development, vocational training, and entrepreneurship that we get to do. That’s where we come in. You have to be strategic in what you’re doing. If you’re serving them by treating them, what happens after? They’re going to come back.
You’re seeing that poverty, widows and orphans are symptoms of a larger problem. You are looking for the root and the root of it is poverty and not having access. You are now providing skills training and other things so they can raise themselves out of poverty, and have more access to treatment. The supplies they need, the medicine they need, and all these things to prevent the symptom of widows and orphans gathering because of the root cause.
It’s a collective effort. Once you’re going out to serve people, you’re not serving at them, you’re serving with them. It becomes a collective effort and you teach them how to fish. As the saying goes, “Teach them to fish.”
The last two times you did this, was it for two weeks or longer?
It’s usually for two weeks.
I heard that you were giving away one of the trips for someone and you get an opportunity to go, help, and serve. You also get to do the Safari. Who wouldn’t want to go on an African Safari? That’s on everyone’s bucket list. You get a trip down where the River Nile begins in Uganda. The beginning of that huge, long historic River Nile starts in Uganda. You get a tour of the River Nile, the starting point, and Kilimanjaro.
That is heaven. You’re going not just to help, serve and bring life to people, but you’ve coupled with an experience that is second to none as well. What you’re doing is unique.
You need to appreciate the people who are coming to serve you. These are people who have taken their time off. These are people who have traveled 22 to 25 hours into a foreign country, planet and everything so you need to appreciate them. You need to be like, “As much as we have these trips and you’re coming to serve and give yourself, we want that experience to be mutually beneficial to you. Let us also treat you to an African Safari, a dinner cruise on the Nile River, or something that will delight you and knowing that there’s beauty in serving and helping another person.”
How did you come up with all of this?
I’m rooted in saying that I’m divinely inspired in everything I do. Bear with me.
I wholeheartedly agree because this is not from the mind of man the way it’s beautifully orchestrated, and everything put together. What is your leadership philosophy? I ask all my guests this.
I know that a leader is a servant. That’s what helps me. A servant leader because as you’re going on, you may do all these many things that you’re doing but once that you are serving a person that brings fulfillment to you not because of how they say it is more blessed to give than to receive. It’s bringing fulfillment to you as you’re serving another person. It also turns back to you. To me, I look at a leader as a servant. Therefore, in everything I do, I put that in there. Even if I’m the one serving the people coming and the people who are coming who are serving the people we are serving, and the people who are serving, we’re going to go because we instill in the people who we serve a desire to help another person.
I was going to ask you how do you enroll other leaders to be a part of this? It’s about sharing that opportunity to be that servant leader.
We have a lot of local support. I’m grateful for this because we have a lot of local support even if somebody comes and says, “I’m going to slash the grass from the area that people are going to use. I’m going to fetch water and bring it so the camp will have water. I’m going to serve and give my gifts to serve and do this.” We instill that in them to let them know that in Africa, we say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Whatever we have to do, it’s collective. It’s not one person who did this and therefore we did.
Even within the collective, there is a leader, and you are that leader. Before we got on this interview, you were on a call to Switzerland. You are so global. Every day you’re speaking to people all over the world. What does it take for you? You’re not getting American entrepreneurs to join this movement. This is a global effort. Anyone can be a part of this.
When I say that I am a global child advocate, I look at children all around, not only Africa. Charity begins at home so I begin at home. Here in the US, I have a foster care program and a youth emancipation program that we’re doing. In Switzerland, we have a pen pal program, helping cultural exchange programs between the kids in Switzerland, in Sweden, here in the US, and cultural exchange with the kids in Uganda. I like the idea that says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Helping people realize and come to that realization of, “I can do something small.” That’s the globalness of what we’re doing.
Charity begins at home so I start from Uganda and Africa, but the globalness of it is to involve other people from different countries and locations so they impact the world. As a social impactologist, I believe strongly that what you can provide and help impact another person’s life can inspire them to impact another person’s life. Therefore, it inspires another to impact another one’s life. That domino effect goes on for one person. You may not know how far it goes, but I usually use the example of Les Brown. That lady, Mama Brown, who impacted and adopted him. She does not know maybe the extent of how much she did by all the many people he’s impacted.
If you drop a pebble in the water, the ripple effect is exponential. This goes on and on. It goes beyond you. This is why I wanted you on the show because there are a lot of different types of leaders. On this show, I’ve interviewed a lot of CEOs and that is one form of business leadership. This is another form of business leadership that requires even more confidence and courage to step out and do something that is far beyond you. I’m sitting here listening to you and I feel we need to do a fundraiser challenge.Life fulfillment comes from serving others. Click To Tweet
There are all these business challenges going on now like fourteen-day challenges, five-day challenges. We need to do a challenge for entrepreneurs and even business leaders to start interviewing some people and see what they can do for the Precious Kids Foundation. We’re in COVID but people are still suffering. If there’s a way that we can create something to impact a bigger pool of people. I know with the group that we’re in, Network of Influence, you have a lot of support there too. We can find support anywhere. We’re going to have a conversation and see what we could do outside of this. If we’re contacting people who are business leaders, CEOs, and who have that influence and power, let’s see how many people we can get to do something and make a difference.
Do you know that it doesn’t take much all the time? I always say it initiates from a willingness to do something. One of the volunteers that came with us had about a team of eleven in 2018. She’s not a nurse. She’s not an entrepreneur. She’s a mother. She has ten kids. She’s like, “I’m a mother. What am I going to do?” She said, “I want to hug all the children.” We have a video clip of her hugging 100 kids. I feel goosebumps all over me. Those kids having a hug from somebody who speaks good words into their ears that they haven’t heard before. It is so priceless. Do you know the Wakanda movie?
One of the actresses, the second part of Lupita Nyong’o, she said that the founder of Essence Magazine came to her country and that lady held her face and told her she’s beautiful. She never forgot that. Many years later, that confidence built up. She became one of the superstars on the movie, Black Panther. That same lady handed her the award and she’s like, “You sowed the seed in me so many years ago.” You never know what impact however small it is.
You think it’s small, but it’s such a huge impact. Whatever you can do, if you’re willing and obedient, that’s what the word says, “If you’d be willing and obedient, you eat the good of the land.” I feel that there is so much that we can do that we think we can’t. It doesn’t even take a lot of money to impact a child’s life. One of my pastors used to say, “It takes $1,000 to build a church.” A whole church building for $1,000.
That’s because you need to know the exchange rate is different in monetary value. In order for us to sponsor one child, per month, it’s $38 a month. If somebody can come up with $38 per month, you’re giving education to that kid, you’re giving food, scholastic material and everything. There’s hope you instill in the child. For the medical kids, we also say that the amount of money that’s needed for the medical you give them hope so it does not take much. For $375, we saved a kid from committing suicide. We did the medical care because his stomach was big and he could barely breathe. He wanted to commit suicide because he was bullied at twelve years old. His kidneys had been affected so he was big and swollen. We took him to the ICU in the capital city. It was a 2.5-hour drive. We took him to the ICU for $375 and his life was changed.
It doesn’t take much to impact a life, even to give a hug. When we’re talking about leadership, I want everybody to understand that leadership is not this big, “I have to do all these big grandiose things like lead a huge company and be considered a great leader.” Leadership can be that mother that said, “I want to do something.” She came there with a servant’s heart. She was determined to hug every child that came across her path and that is a form of leadership. That’s being unselfish and that’s wanting to share whatever you have with someone else.
It is knowing what I have that I can use to help another person, small or big. We don’t ask somebody to go above and beyond. There are times that somebody can go above and beyond and that’s a blessing. What is it that you have? It can be a platform. You can say, “One of the best places like the Network of Influence has given me this platform.” I’m going to another place, a city gala where they gave me a platform. Through that platform, I’ve met some other people who have given other gifts. Leadership is like, “What is it I can do with what I have in my platform, connections, the circle of influence, finances and other opportunities, to be able to be part of what you’re doing?” That’s how we look at it because what we do then becomes what you do, because of your participation.
What is next for you?
We do have kids that are receiving chemotherapy. We have a child with testicular cancer who is now being treated. He’s been under chemotherapy. They’ve done surgical procedures and then they’re going to do radiation. We have other kids that have a lot of other medical issues. We take care of the normal, who don’t need medical attention. We provide facilitation for feeding and school, and also the medical one. What we’re doing is to make sure those procedures go on and for me to look for funding from different funding sources, because COVID or no COVID procedures need to be continued. The other part of it is because COVID has come in the price tag, most of the things have gone up. The medication and food have gone up. Transportation has to be private. They can’t be public anymore so it goes up. The income has to be more to sustain that. We are planning our next medical camp in April 2021, God willing, and if sister COVID takes a hike and doesn’t come back.
We need that to happen. How are they doing with COVID testing over there?
Surprisingly, the numbers are low in Uganda. I would say between prayer knowing that things are going that way, between the system. We have experienced a lot of pandemics that have come into the country. Ebola was one of them. The system has been used to this kind of thing and the isolation rules are strict.
It’s like what you said, they are accustomed to it. They know what to do and put it into practice immediately.
No playing around. We’re planning, God willing, in April 2021 to go back. We’re inviting more people who would like to join our April team so we can go and they invite others. They bring their skills and talents or even families. We usually make this a family trip for people so they’re coming in to serve with their families. That’s when you leave a legacy as well.
I want to ask you how much does it take to take a trip like that with you?
We have different packages that come in because of in-kind donations that we received. They help cover, not fully, their hotels, meals, transportation and all that so we give somebody a package. We get the package because we have some people that want to stay longer. We get the package according to the desire of the person who wants to come. We discuss that with them individually, but it doesn’t take much. For two weeks you’re looking at between $2,000 to $2,500 to cover all your meals and everything when you go there.
Also, your airfare and everything?
Airfare is not included because there are people who get to use their mileage and different ways of getting there.
Once you’re there, we’ve got you and everything else. I have one other question I want to ask. I don’t know if you’re a mother, but if you’re not a mother, I usually ask this of people who have children. If you’re not, I’ll ask it of your younger self. What leadership advice would you give to your younger self or your child as an aspiring leader?
Look at what fulfills your life that serves other people because that’s where you find life fulfillment. As a leader, you find out that you want to make this money and go do your life and everything else, but I found out that life fulfillment comes in by serving others. Biologically, I don’t have kids yet but I have 137.
Those are the children that you are speaking these great things into. That’s where I was going with that question.
To grow the leader in them, we encourage them to look beyond themselves. You look beyond yourself. The moment you reach your hand out to touch another person’s life, you are touching your life as well. That’s how I will groom the leaders. We are grooming future leaders of our country, and of our world because they’re not only staying in Uganda, they’re going to go to different places.
They’re going to branch out. We want to raise them up to be mindful and understand how to blossom in this world, but also give back to this world. Make it a better place for the next generation.Whatever your calling is, start from wherever you can and build from there. The world is waiting for your awakening. Click To Tweet
Their lives were made better because of another person who made that decision. I say that I’m a backward thinker.
It’s all about paying it forward so we have that cycle of recreation. We want to always be giving back to someone else so when they move ahead, they give back and we continue perpetuating that cycle of giving.
It’s the circle of life.
Let’s all go to the home or the beginning of life. Let’s all go and help empower some widows, orphans, and help them create a better life for themselves. Precious, this has been wonderful. I’m so glad to do this and have you on because we’ve been talking about this.
Thank you for the honor.
Any last words that you wanted to share before we say goodbye?
I’m going back to the root of saying, being a philanthropreneur, and being a social impactologist. If this does not come naturally, and people are like, “It’s too big. I can’t start. Where can I start?” I always say start from where you can. Have it in your mind to know that you can start from where you can as an entrepreneur. It could be your circle of influence, funding, or anything. My last words to anybody is whatever your calling is, start from wherever you can, and build from there. I always say the world is waiting for your awakening.
Amen to that. Thank you so much, Precious. You can get in touch with Precious and how you can be a social impactologist yourself or a philanthropreneur. Get connected with Precious and all the amazing things that she’s doing here as a global child advocate. Until next time, I’ll see you again. Thank you for reading.
Thank you for having me too.