I am very delighted to introduce you today to an accomplished artist and woman of heart. She is the initiator and President of an organization dedicated to empower youth from post conflict Northern Uganda. Tapping into consciousness, self-development and spiritual science, she inspires others to become the best version of themselves.
Tell me about yourself. Who is Louise Deininger?
I look at Louise as a spiritual being who is having a human or physical experience as a wife, a mother, a stepmother, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a soul mate, an African conceptual artist, a female leader, a philanthropist, an author, a trained life coach. It continues…
Share with us 3 adjectives which describe you the best.
I am creative, humble and compassionate.
You are a conceptual artist. Where does your passion for art come from and how did you become an artist?
I studied Contextual painting at the University Of Fine Arts Academy Of Vienna under the professorship of Hans Ashley Sheirl, who too is an accomplished leading artist. When I first came to Austria, I was fortunate to be together with an outstanding sculptor and artist who owns a summer academy art school. There, I was able to learn the soft skills in art, such as sculpting and painting. After a while, I fell in love with art or rather my creative nature was awoken.
Art then became an instrument, or rather a channel upon which I could discover and live my soul’s purpose and life vision, which is to inspire others to be the best version of themselves. By realizing my passion in art, I found it easier to convey the messages that I have such as consciousness, spiritual science and all the multidisciplinary subjects. That is the basis of my body of works which I bring out in form of paintings, performance, art films, collages, objects, sculptures and new media.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I have never ranked my achievements in hierarchy of greatness, meaning that when a goal is achieved at that particular moment and time it becomes the greatest for me.
However, the greatest joy and happiness for me has been when I am able to take part in uplifting the consciousness of humanity in a positive way especially with my mentees. Whenever I see the youth that I work directly with become leaders and transform their own lives, by discovering that this leadership was within them all along, it gives me so much delight. This is usually through self-leadership and coaching programs in the art and science of coaching sponsored by Erickson International that we have implemented at GYCO. I have seen these young adults use their gifts and talents to grow and develop and in turn help others do the same. They allowed me to be part of their journey, and I am very grateful for it.
You are the founder of the Global Youth Conference (GYCO). What inspired you to establish this non-profit organization?
As a conceptual artist, we get to receive open calls for proposals from international organizations. I once answered a call from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). It was a competition for peace building. In my line of work as an artist, sometimes there is a topic that can be produced as a series which can take so many years. So I decided to focus on war, resilience and innovation on the people who are affected by war directly or indirectly.
In July 2016 when the competition ended, I decided to continue the series. I traveled to Rwanda, and Northern Uganda to Uganda to do an art film, and that is how DNA of War came about. During filming, I interviewed young people mainly and was very impressed by what Rwanda was doing in terms of empowering young people, especially women and I compared it to Northern Uganda where the challenges were really heavy. We are talking about a conflict of 20 years with LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and these youth having grown up in an environment that was surrounded by so much violence. There was a lot of alcohol and drug abuse, young girls being pregnant really early, about 38 percent domestic violence and so it was more of a calling to take part in intervention for me.
In the beginning I was a bit skeptical because I have done such kind of philanthropic work before during my younger years and I thought well, I just want to focus on my career as an artist. However when you are called upon by certain forces, you can call it God, or any other, the more you resist the more you feel this strong pull.
Meanwhile upon returning to Austria from Uganda, I attended a seminar in Serbia towards the end of 2016, which was called Thinking into results by mentor Bob Proctor. He said;
“All of you here if you thinking of starting some project someday, somehow, somewhere you are in the wrong seminar. When you come out of this seminar you are going back to your homes and you will start those projects that you have been putting aside”. He added “you are going to get out of your comfort zone and into the terror barrier because that is where the magic happens!”
So I decided to jump when I returned home. I took a leap from a high cliff, landed on beautiful clouds and that’s how GYCO was born. We have been able to touch, impact and transform many lives although we still have a long way to go since we started our operations in 2018. Despite the fact that we are still a young organization, we are growing very fast.
As the saying goes “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, what was your biggest challenge and how did you turn it to your advantage?
I am not sure whether I should call it a challenge. However what was significant is the journey to self-discovery. It was very challenging to find a balance whereby sensing, thinking, feeling and willingness function in harmony with the body, soul and spirit. The ego mind was too strong and this is the part that always likes to keep us attached to certain things-this belongs to me…this is my child…this is my family…this is mine, mine, and mine…if I let go I will lose everything.
It was also a matter of getting out of my comfort zone. I used to call those days the dark nights of the soul, and these went on for many years because what I was going through in terms of personal experience, was contradicting all the things that I had learnt from my parents, my teachers, and my society. I came from a closely knit family. All that I had learnt before did not make sense anymore. However, I persisted with going through this self-discovery journey, learning a lot of things while unlearning a lot as well and this was not easy. I lost almost everything but at the end of it all, it was actually me gaining a lot in the end. I was able to grow and to develop as a being and live my soul purpose.
You are a radiant, committed and caring woman, where do you take this positive energy from?
I really like this question because it is connected to my life journey, well I invested a lot in myself. I was never like this, if you met me in my teenage years. I had an attitude. I also invested in myself in terms of commitment, wanting to know more about myself. I received various teachings for many years especially those on spiritual science. I learnt a lot from my masters and from my mentors, I attended courses, workshops, seminars and read a lot and still do, for example in self-development, human consciousness research and so forth, it all boils down to the amount of work I was able to put in behind the scenes. Hours and hours of never ending study and practice, and a lot of discipline. Mind you, one can acquire wisdom and knowledge from textbooks seminars, workshops, research studies, and so forth, nonetheless, this can just guide you in your quest. The biggest thing for me was the experiential knowledge, living from this experience, helped me to live a purposeful life, meet the of love of my life and live a fulfilled life.
You are also a published author. Tell us about your journey as a writer and about your last book.
I started scripting some years back, just daily writing. I piled up volumes and volumes of writings. I have so many things I have written. The book DNA of war came out of this, because it was a project on which I was working, so it was not that difficult to come up with this.
Basically the book is a memoir of a woman whose family escaped from the horrible war in Uganda and explores psychological post-war recovery mechanisms for those directly affected by the war in Northern Uganda and the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. It is also based on the documentary that I did. In the book, their testimonies show a manifestation of a resilient population yet to recover from the torments of a twenty-year conflict. Every one of the stories arches the reader into the war field and exposes the trauma that is deeply rooted into the DNA of the war victims amidst the silence of the guns. It also explores the use of a multi-dimensional approach of infusing artistic expression with a sustainable mindset transformation program to revitalize the broken souls of the young people of Northern Uganda with the focus on self-empowerment through reflection and discovery of individual potentials to rise above History.
You are a strong advocate for self-leadership, can you explain this concept and why is it so relevant?
It all stems out of what I have previously hinted on, my own personal experience and also having had this deep curiosity to know about my own identity beyond what my parents and teachers taught me and I had this really deep desire to know, who I am and what I want out of this life, what the purpose of my life here on the planet is. How do I find my passion and how do I find happiness, peace, love, and joy?
These are all things I wanted to know and experience and this came from deep self-inquiry, which led to self-leadership, I strongly believe that for you have to inspire others and lead them you have to know your true nature first. An example is that when you board an aircraft, you are told to tie your seatbelt first before you help a child with theirs, you are told to pull your oxygen mask on first before helping another. And there is a great teaching in that when you are able to understand yourself to its totality, then it is easier to add value to another person because you are teaching them from a place of experiential knowledge.
In December 2019, your organization GYCO was a co-host to a high-level conference “Evolving beyond trauma” convened by Soroptimist International and Juvenilia Wien Club. What was your personal experience or did your work with GYCO teach you on resilience to overcome traumatic life events?
I must say that I am still learning. Trauma is an area that is very sensitive because it involves dealing with human feelings and emotions. This can be very painful. And sometimes when you are confronted by horror stories, and in my case when I was interviewing the survivors of the LRA war, it was so painful. When I see the girls suffer so much as an effect it hurts a lot. However, with the work I do with Elena Castellucci and Sean who were the brains behind the conference with the help of Ban Ki-moon Center, Soroptmist and club Juvenilia did a good job. They both deal mainly with the topic of trauma so they have been able to support me.
Before I met Sean and Elena there was a lot of pain that was anchored in me. I went through the process of EFT tapping releasing some of that energy, which was revitalizing. This conference created awareness and sensitization on the effect of secondary trauma on individuals. So now, I am aware. However, I cannot say that the trauma is completely gone. Recently when I came back from Uganda, I still experience that pain and I cry when I see, or have conversations with the girls that tell me about their struggles and experiences when I am with mentor MP, Hon Betty Aol Ocan, a leading figure in Uganda, a woman Member of Parliament and the leader of Opposition. She gets a lot of visitors. Sometimes when the women come to her and share their struggles and challenges that they are going through, it really makes me feel sad. And I am happy that Elena and Sean are continuing with this work and that I am part of that and there are quite some projects that they have developed from the conference and are still continuing to work on the topic of trauma.
If you had one piece of advice to share with women from the African diaspora to thrive what will it be?
One would be to make peace with where you are right now. Moving towards the post-Corona virus pandemic, during the lockdown it gave us time to reflect. It would be best to just know exactly what you want, where do you see yourself in 20 years from today? What is your vision? What do you visualize? And when you visualize that what is your heart telling you? What can you hear from deep down within yourself, not what everyone else thinks what you should be but what you feel, see or visualize for yourself? What do you love? Do you do what you love? Are you good at it?
Remember that the best investment that you will ever make is in yourself. Once you start to work towards the direction of your dreams, goals, wishes, and aspirations, it is also good to remember to contribute towards your legacy, by uplifting humanity consciousness.
I believe that is the reason why we are here, to help others to also grow. And this is done through what you love. And when you find that, ask yourself, what does the world need? Depending on where your interest, talent and gift is. Just find your North star and inspire others while following your dreams.
Let’s make your Chinese portrait!
● If you were a country, which country will you be…?
● If you were a delicious meal, what will it be …
● If you were a musical style…
● If you were an animal…
Definitely a horse, it has such powerful legs and it is so cute, so pretty.
What is your favorite quote?
“Ask and it shall be given on to you, knock and the door shall be open on to you”