In the often rainy and bleak streets of Vancouver, one man seeks to spread hope to the least, the lost, and the lonely.
Alpha Kirabira grew up in an orphanage in war-torn Uganda, where his mother worked and cared for children. She taught him many lessons, like the value of every human life and the need for communities to care for one another. When Alpha was sponsored by a Canadian family at the age of twelve and moved to Surrey, BC, Canada, he determined to treasure these concepts and apply the principles he leaned in this new country.
As he entered his teen years, Alpha’s heart was broken when he saw youth in Surrey struggling with things like drugs, alcohol, gangs, and bullying.
“Young people, their minds are caught up in so many things,” says Alpha. “They were finding themselves in the streets without anyone to guide them. They got stuck doing things that didn’t develop their lives, but destroy them.”
Making a Change
At nineteen, Alpha used what little money he had to connect with people in his community. He rented a gym once a week, bought as much pizza and snacks as he could, and invited youth to come hear him speak.
“When they came in, I let them know about the skills, abilities, and talents they had,” says Alpha, who used stories to help them see there was a better way. “They needed to hear something good. They needed to hear they’re valuable.”
During this time, Alpha was the main speaker and mentored many young men and women. Several of them went on to impact the lives of others through their own charitable organizations later in life.
“The core of this program was to find young people that are struggling in life, who feel lost and like they’re not loved,” says Alpha. “So we went to reach out and bring life to them. Once their minds get renewed with a good message, there’s potential for their lives to be transformed. And hearing the right message every time, they’re able to keep and take that to heart.”
Help Change My City
Alpha knew education would be valuable in helping him learn the skills he’d need to work in the non-profit sector one day. So when he was presented with the opportunity to take his masters at ACTS Seminaries, he decided to do it, though business was always on his mind. He knew he was called to start a non-profit.
“What we study is not to be just head knowledge,” says Alpha. “Knowledge is to be lived out, in community. We have to live out what we learn and to look for opportunities to use the knowledge we have.”
In 2012, Alpha applied his education and experience to found Help Change My City, a non-profit with the goal of transforming communities one life at a time.
“It’s a platform that allows those who are educated to partner with us and spread good news,” says Alpha. “We are teaching young people that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and there’s a purpose for their lives.”
Through Help Change My City, Alpha has been involved in many outreach programs that have changed countless lives. One of these initiatives is The Little Black Dress Gala, an annual fundraiser that has seen over 1700 people attend in the last two years. This gala raises awareness of and support for the various needs of at-risk youth, homeless, and marginalized in Vancouver.
Giving Back is a Muscle
Alpha says there is high demand for the programs he has launched through his non-profit, and is humbled by the response he’s seen from so many volunteers and by the city accepting them. But there’s still so many in need.
“We’re waiting for you,” Alpha says when asked what message he’d like to share with the community. “The harvest is plenty but the harvesters are few. There’s 126 schools in the district of Surrey that need after-school programs. There’s community programs that need help. We who are educated are supposed to go out and help the community. Giving back is a muscle that we have to work. And it starts now.”
Alpha has dedicated his life to giving back to others and to making a difference wherever he goes. More than anything, he wants to encourage people to get involved. Through the simple act of loving others, Alpha believes broken lives can be saved.
“You never know whose life you’re going to change,” says Alpha.
If you’re interested in learning more about Help Change My City, click here.
To learn more about how to buy tickets to or volunteer for The Little Black Dress Gala, click here.
If you feel inspired by this story and want to find ways to get involved in mentorship, click here.