The history of Value of One began with a simple act of kindness from an unlikely source. At the time, Paul Mpanga (Value of One’s Founder and President), was living in poverty in central Uganda. However, Paul felt like a rich man as he boarded a bus heading eight hours north to the war torn region of the country. At that time, most people were trying to flee the area where rebels were attacking civilians and kidnapping children, forcing them to become child soldiers. Paul felt compelled to visit them for that same reason- the people there were suffering. He wasn’t going to allow distance, cost, or the threat of danger to get in the way.
He didn’t have much of anything to give. He was no politician, army leader or wealthy businessman able to provide resources to help end the conflict. He was barely able to afford the return bus fare and had no means for accommodation once he got there. What he did have, he was determined to share. It was the very thing that had crept in and saved him when he was at his lowest point and wanted to take his own life. Paul had encountered hope.
Paul was no stranger to hardship, having lost both of his parents and a brother to sickness. He could perhaps count the many people who had given up on him- labeled him a statistic or a failure, but more significant were the few people who hadn’t (even when he had wanted to give up on himself). These were people who made a difference. They were very few in number and far from what people would see as likely heroes in ones life. They were those who had also seen hard times- a fellow drunkard and failure by the world’s standards, a poor and struggling elderly woman with no formal education, and a once stranger who people had shamed and many had mocked. They invested in him with hope. He held on to that hope as things slowly began to get better for him. Hope changed him on the inside and gave him the strength and motivation he needed to move forward to a better life. He knew the dangerous feeling of hopelessness and could not bear the truth that in Northern Uganda and all over the world there were others feeling that same pain that he once knew and believed was worse than any physical threat. Paul wanted those suffering to know that someone cared, he cared because they are important.
Paul continued this mission, every year quitting his job and traveling to some of the world’s most suffering for a few months out of the year. He would give whatever he could as far as resources but the real gift has always been the seed of hope and the continual investment of faith in their ability to rise from the hurt and difficulty of hardship and circumstance. After a few months, he would return and ask his previous job if they had any open positions. He then began partnering with other unlikely heroes that each have a story of overcoming hardship.
Finally, Paul was encouraged to begin Value of One with this network of people that never guessed they could have anything to offer anyone else. Today, Value of One is accomplishing more than any of them could have imagined. It’s greatest victory is that it is growing more unlikely heroes in many nations around the world- more people that are trying to bring hope and opportunity to those in need. It has become a marriage of hope and resources believing the world’s hurting are deserving of both. Our humble history is why we do not see those hurting as others or statistics, but as individuals- perhaps even unlikely heroes that have yet to discover their superpowers.