Girl Child Education
I am a member of a Women’s International Fellowship here in Mukono. One member of the group, the Reverend Susan Olwa, is not exactly international, although her wide range of experience transcends that of most folks who live five hours from their hometowns. Her husband studies in Australia. They have three children of their own. She has been raising them as a single parent for several years.
She is from Lira, in Northern Uganda, an epicenter for twenty years of the devastating activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (see last blog entry). Reverend Susan decided that she would fight back, and so she adopted five girls affected by the destruction of their country and culture due to the LRA.
She is trying to send them all to primary and secondary school, but the three older girls have dropped out because she can no longer afford their school fees.
|Reverend Susan Olwa|
As she says, “As severe as the regional humanitarian crisis in the northern part of Uganda is for all people, it is women and children who were most affected. Thousands of women and children were abducted, whereby male children were trained as combatants while women and girls/female children, on top of being trained as combatants, became wives to rebel top officials, thereby facing sexual exploitation, hence exposing them to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
In 2008 I went back to my village churches, one in Dogapio village then it was in Apach District and the other one Aromo village in Lira District. On different Sunday services (in Dogapio and Aromo), I identified some girls who were in the church choir, so after the service I had an hour talk with them. During those interactions, I found out that these were victims of the twenty year old armed conflict and orphans who are left behind. Out of compassion I requested parents/guardians to allow me to help by putting these girls back in school.
|Members of the International Women's Fellowship|
Kipwala Sharon, 21 years of age, was born in 1990 to Mary and C.D Ongom of Dogapio village, Apach District, Northern Uganda. Sharon’s parents died of HIV/AIDS in 2001 leaving her and two other children behind in the care of their 76 year’s old widowed grandmother. Sharon moved to the streets of Lira town where she was picked up by different women to help with babysitting but in all this she was abused. In 2007 she attended an open air bible meeting and gave her life to Jesus Christ. A sister in Christ took her to her home and paid school fees for her. At the beginning of the year 2008 the sister who had paid part of Sharon’s fees in Mpoma O &A level Girl’s Boarding School died. I met her when she had already dropped out of school
Adong Esther, 18 years old
Esther’s parents were massacred in an Internally Displaced Camp in Barlonyo - Lira District in 2005. She moved with her other siblings to take refuge in St. Luke Church, Aromo Parish. She was in Primary Six when she dropped out of school
Aringo Joan, 14 years old.
Joan was born to Evelyn and the late Bosco Akor. She is the first born in the family of four children. While in Aromo Internally Displaced Camp Joan’s father was abducted in 2003, the unconfirmed story is that he was killed as he failed to walk faster due to ill health. Joan dropped out of school in Primary Four and became very active in the church where I picked her from.
Adong Peace, 16 years old
Born to Harriet and Joel Apenyo, Adongo is the first born and has two brothers and one sister. This family was staying in one of the Internally Displaced Camps in Lira Town where it is believed that Joel contracted HIV/AIDS and died in 2007 leaving Harriet infected with HIV/AIDS too and on drugs. Adong had dropped out of Primary five when I picked her.
Apio Deborah, 16 years old
Deborah is the first born in a family of four children of Martha and Geoffrey Okai who are both in the Ugandan Armed Forces. This family live in Lira Town but because both of them and their last born of six years are HIV positive, all the money they get goes to things to boost their immunity at the expense of paying fees for Deborah. I picked her because I feel if educated she would be able to guide and protect the other three of her siblings in future.
The 20 years of civil war in Northern Uganda have brought so much poverty in the region that even these five girls I have picked could hardly get fees and scholastic help from the relatives. On the other hand, the Church has been offering mostly counselling to the people traumatised in the war and has supported the Peace Talks. However since the church finances come from a congregation that has lived a deprived life in camps for 25 years, it has no funds to support the needy girls.”
|Lake Victoria from the hill behind UCU campus.|
David and I are donating some money to Rev Susan to help with the girls’ school fees. It is a drop in the bucket, but a drop that will surely help my friend, the Reverend Susan, and her family, as well as the five girls she is intent on rescuing.