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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Tuesday's Connector of the Day: Sanyu Nakyeyune

November 30th, 2009
04:20 PM ET

After her parents died of AIDS when she was only ten years old, Sanyu Nakyeyune was left to look after her two younger siblings in a rural Ugandan village without electricity or running water. Trying to attend school on top of all her tasks at home was proving impossible. [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/30/lead.uganda.art.jpg caption="LEAD Uganda helped AIDS orphan Sanyu Nakyeyune into education. "]

But with the help of LEAD Uganda – an educational leadership initiative helping AIDS orphans, former child soldiers and child laborers into schools – Sanyu is now attending one of the best boarding schools in the country and regularly achieving A+ grades. She wants to be a doctor when she is older.

LEAD Uganda is helping Sanyu and other African children learn the skills which will allow them to help solve their own problems.

Now aged 14, Sanyu is focused on serving her country and helping Africa. To mark World AIDS Day, Sanyu Nakyeyune is Tuesday's Connector of the Day. Send her your questions.

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Chang

    Oh! Sanyu, I hope you can be a doctor in your future.

    Furtermore, your African friend can get the dream and future.

    December 1, 2009 at 4:41 am | Reply
  2. Bridget I Downey

    Hello Sanyu,
    The story I read about you is very simple and I think you life has not been simple. But I am happy to hear you are making progress toward your own goals. Congratulations on your very hard work. My husband and I will send our best wishes to you often. When you are discouraged remember all the people far away who hope with you.
    in the United States

    December 1, 2009 at 5:39 am | Reply
  3. Patrick

    Do not redirect your future because of the past. Our Dear CREATOR will always guide and help you. Surely, HE will reward and make you HAPPY.

    December 1, 2009 at 6:13 am | Reply
  4. Lavina Rao

    I am so happy that Sanyu will have a bright future with the help of LEAD Uganda. God bless this group and all the children who are looking forward for a bright future.

    Sanyu, I pray that all your dreams come true

    Love and God bless

    December 1, 2009 at 6:17 am | Reply
  5. ERIC

    Your the best!
    What is your favorite part of school?
    I'll be thinking great things for you!
    Eric, from USA

    December 1, 2009 at 6:25 am | Reply
  6. Doreen

    My daughter Sanyu, Glory to God for everything you have been through and you are yet to achieve. Please trust in HIM.

    December 1, 2009 at 6:54 am | Reply
  7. patricia Kedit

    Dear Sanyu....wonderful girl.You are a star in God 's eyes. He has a purpose for your living.Keep up the spirit.Be blessed.

    December 1, 2009 at 7:05 am | Reply
  8. Yoon

    I'm so grateful that Lead Uganda help you.
    You are very intelligent.
    I hope you can be a doctor in your future.
    God bless you.

    화이팅 !

    December 1, 2009 at 7:53 am | Reply
  9. LIZZY

    Your life is an inspiration to me. In this time when people make situations determine their future, you have risen above yours. As you desire to be a Doctor God will make it happen. Also want to appreciate LEAD Uganda keep caring for these dear children and we will pray for you all.

    December 1, 2009 at 7:57 am | Reply
  10. Igor Markov

    Hi Sanyu!

    It is great to know that you aspire to become a doctor and help your country develop. It would be great if you can start getting involved in community work so you develop an understanding about your community's needs.

    Where is your school? We live in Kampala and maybe our daughter and her friends can meet up with you and your friends to plan community development activities together. She is also 14!

    Best wishes and keep up the good grades – you'll need them for medical school 🙂


    (Kampala, Uganda)

    December 1, 2009 at 8:11 am | Reply
  11. Ezra

    Sanyu, So much to say to you and so little space to say it. First, every human being who hears your story will stop for a moment, and our hearts will break a little, and then, we will dig deep inside of us to find what words we can share with you to encourage you along your way. You see, while your life experience thus far, to the outsider, was- is hard, it's your life, the cards you have been dealt, and you seem to have played those cards well. Your road ahead is bright, but as with all of our chosen paths in life, it will not be without challenges. Your success will depend on how you deal with the challenges you face. It you fall, pick yourself up. Don't rush thru life and think that you have to get everything done right away. Enjoy your journey. And in those times when you feel down and you just can't move on, if you belive in God, call on him, invoke his teachings in your life. Also know that people around the GLOBE, are routing for you, but the most important person of all who must route for you , and clap for you and your success, and comfort you when you are down, is YOURSELF. Believe in yourself, treat yourself right, and whatever dreams you have in your heart, you WILL realize. All the very best to you – Ezra

    December 1, 2009 at 8:20 am | Reply
  12. grace ouko

    God is in controll. Read Zacharia 4:6 he will see you through

    December 1, 2009 at 8:36 am | Reply
  13. Josephine

    Dear Sanyu, Thank God for the help you are getting to find your self again. I know that it will not be easy without your parents but remember that God will be a mother and a father to you in time of distress. Pray always and He will direct you. I am delighted that at your age you know what you want to be. I pray for you and will always pray for you.
    Take care and Remain blessed,

    December 1, 2009 at 10:12 am | Reply
  14. Sivapragash

    Sayn, u will acheive ur goal without any doubt.. with all the hardship... God will always bless you..

    December 1, 2009 at 10:26 am | Reply
  15. Sofía

    Hello Sanyu,

    Congratulations andt thank you for being an inspiration for me.

    I just wanted to ask you what you would suggest other youth around the world should do in order to raise awareness amongst those adults who simply don't seem to understand. There are causes we need to fight for, in Africa and elsewhere. AIDS, poverty, lack of education, human rights violations, etc, etc, etc...

    What are your words for us?


    December 1, 2009 at 10:34 am | Reply
  16. sabita tauheed

    I am happy that a child of your age can take a wonderful decision to make lemonade out of lemon. You have (unknowingly) chosen to be an inspiration to people that find themselves on crossroads. May your star continue to shine and kudos to LEAD Uganda!

    December 1, 2009 at 10:35 am | Reply
  17. Kaka

    Dear Sanyu,

    Your story is very touching and inspiring. I am sure you will make an excellent doctor because of your selflessness in caring for your siblings. I have one question – If you had one message to say to everyone in the world, what would that be?

    Best wishes,


    December 1, 2009 at 10:43 am | Reply
  18. Robert

    Great dreams Sanyu! Keep the focus on and never give up.With God nothing is impossible.
    Be an ambassador of hope to your colleagues at school! You are a great girl.
    What do you talk about or preoccupies your mind especially when not studying?

    (Robert, Nippon)

    December 1, 2009 at 10:55 am | Reply
  19. Julia Sebutinde

    Dear Sanyu,
    Your story is so inspiring to so many children in our land. Stay strong and focussed on your studies! You are a great asset to Uganda and Africa! May God grant you good success. God bless.


    December 1, 2009 at 11:00 am | Reply
  20. Jerry

    Hi Sanyu,
    Good for you, but remember there are many who are not as fortunate. When you are able to help in the future do so. Continue working hard at books.

    December 1, 2009 at 11:19 am | Reply
  21. Kisitu Ronald

    Dear Sanyu,
    I want you to know that your not the only one suffering..all you have to do is to stay strong and God will reward you.

    December 1, 2009 at 11:40 am | Reply
  22. David Muzumbuku

    Dear Sanyu,


    You have clearly demonstrated leadership by leading the way through LEAD Uganda. Sanyu, thanks for showing grace in the face of adversity. You're such an inspiration. Keep the candle light on.

    David Muzumbuku

    December 1, 2009 at 11:40 am | Reply
  23. Meg

    What a tragic, yet courageous story. Sanyu, how did you stay strong and what motivated you to go to school? Also, what kind of struggles did you have raising your younger siblings all alone?

    An inspiration to all and a reminder that so many humans around the world are born with nothing, face hardship everyday, yet somehow find the strength and courage to accomplish their dreams! A fighter!

    December 1, 2009 at 11:44 am | Reply
  24. Aiee

    There are defining moments in our lives that can be a spring board...One thing you can be sure about is that life will always be challenging but the one thing that you can choose is to make the most of what you have...you have come so far, you can make it!

    You are part of Uganda's success against AIDS and for those of us in the diaspora, it is the only "good news" story out of our motherland. I live you with a simple message from my school motto

    Gakyali Mabaga!

    December 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  25. Raymond Osei-Boadu


    Sanyu, I pray that you remain focused on your goal. Always remember your late mother and do something to make her, your siblings, your country and yourself proud. I know and believe you can do it. When you do it and we are alive, we shall join the world to celebrate you. You cannot fail yourself. Go girl, GO.

    December 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  26. Barnabas

    May God grant the desires of your heart and you will surely succeed. My attention however goes to west, on technology, engineering, sport, and all successes they show their side on negative issues like AIDS, poverty and iliteracy, they show developing countries and Africa in particular. They too have AIDS patients and orphans, and poorer people than most Africans. Let them show us their western side of the story.
    I wish Sanyu the best of life. You are not alone!

    December 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  27. Yaron Israel

    good luck for you in everything , Sanyu 🙂

    from me , Yaron – israel

    December 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  28. Miguel Angel Nsue Ndje

    I wish you all the best in life
    God bless you dear

    December 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  29. Mariam


    May your dreams come true. God bless u.

    December 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  30. Ernest

    There are a lot of kids like Sanyu who can benefit from the so much AID money that well-wishers like you donate and send everyday through NGOs that have been set up all over Africa. Unfortantely, a lot of NGOs have been set up by crooks who display a lot of pictures when fund-raising, but in fact sponsor only a handful of Sanyus.

    You will be shocked if you went around schools and discovered how few of the so-many vulnerable kids are sponsored by NGOs who champion the cause of OVCs. Most of these high-flying NGO CEOs are busy flying their children to the most expensive schools around using money meant for the Sanyus of this world. Of course they will always attend the AIDS workshops, conferences, picketing, etc – especially when the media are around.

    December 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  31. Elizabeth


    Nothing is impossible if you put your trust in God. He will carry you through. LEAD thank you. Sanyu stay well. Stay alive. Work hard. Enjoy God's gift of life in Him.


    December 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  32. MUNYWE

    Sanyu, your story is both heart-rending and inspirational.I wish you success in your chosen career path and hope that the Ugandan government as well as local and foreign philanthropists pledge their assistance to you and your siblings to see you through life's journey.

    December 1, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  33. Susan

    Dear Sanyu,
    Your name means JOY! May you continue to be a joy to those around you. You are destined for great things my dear! Never be inclined to give up your dream of being a doctor, or any other dream – no matter the hurdles. May God bless you and make you a blessing always.

    December 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  34. Lala Fayre

    Hi Sanyu,

    We need more people like you which can inspire and can inflict hope to our burdened world. You truly exemplify someone that did not allow situations dictate the path of the future. My challenge for you is that that you may remain focused, consistent with your study and prayers, challenge yourself more each day, strive to strike a balance between study and personal life and continue to be thankful everyday. Potentially, fears, worries, disappointments, uncertainties and limiting thougths will come your way because the greater the dream, the greater are the risks of these to come. However know that you already won the battle and that God sees the bigger picture in your life. For those who trust onto Him will never been put to shame.

    I will be thinking of you in my prayers.


    Lala Fayre ( Manila, Philippines)

    ps. who is fixed to a star does not changed his/her mind.

    December 1, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  35. Janat Jingo

    Dear Sanyu,
    I am a Ugandan, living in Atlanta. Your story is so inspiring, and I am so proud of you. Most people can only imagine what you have gone through in your 14 years. I have a full understanding because I have witnessed the devastating effects of AIDS in our country. As you go through life, remain focused and determined , the rest will fall in place. You will become a medical doctor one day. Best wishes in your studies.

    Kind regards, Janat

    December 1, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  36. Bridgette

    Your story is certainly inspirational. Remember that in "a d V E R S I T y" there is STRIVE. (Philippians 4:13)
    Keep your focus on the Lord.

    Bridgette from Jamaica

    December 1, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  37. LB

    god bless u and all the very best in ur future studies


    December 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  38. Michele


    What an amazing and inspiring story you have! We will pray for you to continue down the path of education towards your goals and please, we love to read, so write your memoirs and have them published someday soon! G-d bless you always,

    Michele and Sammy

    December 1, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  39. al epidendio

    Dear Sanyu,
    I've always been aware that it takes guts to survive in this world. I can see that you believe this as well. Good luck and God bless.

    December 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  40. Kara

    Hi Sanyu,

    Congratulations on receiving such good marks at school, that is a great accomplishment at any age. Keep it up!

    When did you realize that you wanted to be a doctor? What kind of doctor?

    Also, if you could have one wish come true – what would you wish for?


    December 1, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  41. Siele Angela

    Dear Sanyu,
    You are the definition of life's purpose and a true hero. I am a young Kenyan woman praying that God will use my life to make a difference just like you are using yours. I am so proud of you and I hope that I will meet you, and be inspired even more. You are an amazing blessing to me and to the world!
    Love Angela

    December 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  42. Siyad Hajir

    dear sunyu!!
    What is your advice towards the HIV and AIDS survivors?


    December 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  43. Otokpa jerry Orinya

    Dear sanyu, i know how it feels to loose both parent by aids,and also the mental, physical and psycological trauma it brings. I wont lie,u are one strong girl,stay that way.

    December 1, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  44. BaffaMustapha

    As your fellow African,i study very hard...i'll complete high school by next year.already making plans to travell to the states for the rememeder of my studies....my Questions to you are:
    1.WHAT do you think is the biggest problem Africans are facing today?
    2.HOW can we contribute in shaping the next generations of Africans? To be war free,diesease free,healthy..... remember you are not doing good for your own sake only,but for Uganda and the whole of Africa.god bless

    December 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  45. jimmy byaruhanga

    Dear Sanyu,
    God will protect you in everything you are planing to do,never forget to say aprayer all the time.GOOD LUCK & GOD BLESS.

    December 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  46. Vanessa


    You have so much potential and it is a blessing that you are able to build on that. I'm praying for your success and the blessings that you will bring to others =).


    December 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  47. Tambu

    Dear Sanyu,

    Keep going, keep strong and keep believing in your dream. I pray that the Lord looks after your siblings while you study and work towards making Africa a better place.

    Do you know what kind of a doctor you want to be?

    Stay well...

    December 1, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  48. kasana nsubuga

    Dear Sanyu,this world is filled with so many challenges but what really matters is where you are going not were you are coming from.Am really glad that you have a dream that will eventually change the lives of others.keep your head up.

    Best of Luck

    December 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  49. Remet

    my dear, the God almighty will see to it that your dreams come through because He knows the end of the matter from the begining thereof. God bless you.


    December 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  50. Michelo

    Dear Sanyu,

    Reading your story today has touched and inspired me. You are a start and please continue with the good grades. wishing you love, kindness and best wishes in all you aspire to become one day.

    Love and Hugs
    Michelo from Oslo

    December 1, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  51. Simone

    I am very proud of you. I pray that you become a possitve role model to the other unfortunate kids and a good embassor for your country. May the Good Lord continue to guide you on your Journey.
    God Bless you and your family.

    December 1, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  52. John

    congratulations. This is an amazing story. And you are an amazing girl. What do you hope people take away from your story?

    December 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  53. Dani

    Your story is amazing! Continue reaching for your goals; you are setting a great example for many girls your age all over the world. I am also fourteen years old, and you have inspired me not to give up, to appreciate what I have, and to keep my head held high during difficult times.
    God bless you!

    December 1, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  54. Angelina

    I know you can achieve your dreams. You are a very inspirational person, and I truly believe in you.
    Good luck!

    December 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  55. abigail

    sanyu i am proud of you. just watched you on cnn and had to quickly google your name. you are beautiful. some of us had wonderful childhood experiences yet still ungrateful. reading about you has been such an inspiration. God bless you.

    December 1, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  56. Angelina

    Wow. You are truly an inspiration to people everywhere. Best of luck with your endeavors and god bless!

    December 2, 2009 at 12:44 am | Reply
  57. SkyeUndefined

    I used to feel as though it was tremendously unfair that people all over the world were suffering immensely while as a whole Americans had it so good. After spending time in Haiti volunteering in the orphanages I came to beleive that perhaps I had it wrong. There is certainly a great deal of suffering going on in the world. But what has amazed me is the respect for life and the underlying happiness that seems so prevelent in groups of people living in such humble circumstances. It seems that in the United States it is so easy to allow our privilege to cloud what is really important. In that respect I beleive that sometimes those who are struggling have the advantage. In no way do I intend to dimish their suffering. But wouldn't it be great if we could all overcome the odds like Sanyu, whether those odds be loss and suffering or privilege that serves to cloud our vision.

    December 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  58. Paul Ntege

    Sanyu, this a very great moment for you and for LEAD Uganda. As LEAD Uganda scholar, I personally feel honored to see my sister speaking out to the world. This is a dream that most of us have failed to achieve. You should be a very proud of LEAD Uganda. Enjoy your stay in the States and I wish you a very happy Christmas.

    December 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  59. Ronald Kato

    This is truly inspirational. God bless you Sanyu and LEAD Uganda

    December 3, 2009 at 6:28 am | Reply
  60. Stephen Magezi

    "For i know the plans that i have for you,' says the Lord,' plans
    for for welfare and not for calamity to give a future and a hope.


    December 3, 2009 at 7:30 am | Reply
  61. Katongole Godfrey(Student LEAD Ug)

    Hey Sanyu, hope you r having a great time in NY. You know you have got us and we shall be there when you need us.I know you will make it. You are smart. I just can't wait to see you at medical school, it is all about time. We made it there and I know you can too. all the best.

    December 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  62. Fomungen Daniel

    The indomitable Lions of cameroon is a squad that always suprises the world ,when least expected.The new, french-born coach has really re-organised the squad, and they will definitely be on the difficult side fo any seeded team to under rate

    December 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Reply
  63. Jenn

    I am so honored to be a part of your life...and the LEADUganda program.

    Love and pray for you always!
    "teacher Jenn"

    December 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  64. charles

    sanyu, it's me you'r brother from uganda.
    just to let you know that once GOD comes into you'r life, you can never be down again.
    please have him first and everything well run the way you ask it to be.

    mind you i run this


    December 12, 2009 at 8:58 am | Reply
  65. jjuko joachim[student lead uganda]

    Hey Sanyu,hope you are havingh a a great time in N Y.I am still on the way just like you do, the fact that you have reach that far means that you are seeing the destiny and am sure you will make it.I am so happy a bout you sister.

    December 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  66. Tobi Akinjo

    I am so happy that things like this are happening in my continent of Africa and i hope more children get Sanyu's kind of opportunity...Best of luck to you Sanyu!!

    December 23, 2009 at 8:51 am | Reply
  67. Shawn Willis

    Sanyu, we are all so proud of you and we love you very much. Continue your hard work and God will continue to bless you. Happy Birthday.

    January 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  68. Sonya


    I am truly blessed to read your story. I am proud of you and all your accomplishments. Keep up the good work and stay focus on your dreams of becoming a physician. I know God has great things in store for your life. He has taken you thus far and I am positive he will continue to guide you. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    God Bless,

    January 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  69. philip olero

    Hey sanyu,
    I watch you over CNN and i was very sorry.I will make a trip to your Village soon.Keep on soldering.God will help you.
    thanks and blessed

    January 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  70. ssewanyana Andrew


    August 4, 2010 at 8:03 am | Reply

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