Before he even reaches his senior year at Shaker Central High School, Brian Hickey plans to head to Uganda in July to deliver text books and soccer equipment to children and even teach a few classes.
Education there is key to help in providing to a lot of kids, he said. "If you get a good education you can get a job and have a lot more opportunities than they have now."
Hickey, 17, is the co-founder of the Engeye Teen Connection, a group of Capital District teenagers dedicated to help children in Uganda. For two years, Hickey, his brother Greg and friend Sara Weinman, a junior at Bethlehem High School who co-founded the group, have been fronting their own money to help pay for an education sponsorship for three children in Uganda.
Hickey's interest started after John Kalule, who is the founder and runs Engeye Health clinic, brought back Susan Nabukenya, who had 80 percent of her body burned and was in dire need of treatment. Since there was nowhere in Uganda for her to be treated, in 2008 she was brought to the Boston Shriners Hospital for plastic surgery.
Theresa Weinman, an administrative Coordinator at Albany Medical College, was good friends with the Dr. Bob Paglow, who brought Nabukenya to the U.S., and became involved with getting her help. The hospital said Nabukenya needed a host family in Boston and Weinman said she had a niece in the city.
"I told her that maybe two people from Uganda might be living on their couch for only three weeks," she said. "It ended up being close to four months."
Weinman took care of Nabukenya while she healed in between treatments and showed her around the Capital District, which is where Hickey met Nabukenya and Kalule. This is where he first got exposure to the Engeye program and where he was able to interact with Kalule.