The Scholarship Circle program allows donors to sponsor the Hope North student for an entire year, giving hope and sustenance while building peaceful and transformational cross-cultural friendships.
A $1,500¬†donation¬†covers all the needs of a student for one year including including¬†room,¬†board,¬†an accredited education,¬†vocational training,¬†healthcare,¬†arts¬†and¬†sports. Participants will receive a letter and report card from their sponsored student at the end of each semester. While donors will be paired with an individual student, the scholarship you provide will be used to benefit all the students at Hope North.
You can browse student profiles and choose a student to support by sending an email to scholarshipcircle (at) hopenorth (d0t) org.
“Flight from the Bush”
In 2001, the Lord‚Äôs Resistance Army captured Florence along with her mother, father, and other relatives. Like with most of the men they captured, the rebels killed Florence‚Äôs father immediately. The rebels forced Florence and her mother at machete point to carry heavy loads for the army. They were not always able to escape the blade of the knife, though.
For nine months Florence and her mother were forced to march and haul LRA equipment and food, but they were fed very little. While in the bush, the rebels killed her cousin, too. Florence knew she could not last much longer in the bush, so she looked for any opportunity to escape.
One day she was fetching water with five other child soldiers at a well in a very brushy area. When the rebels let their guard down, Florence told the other children to go into the bush and crawl on their bellies. They stopped under a large, bushy tree and waited while they heard the guards pass by. To be sure they were clear, they hid under the tree all night.
In the morning they left and found their way to Koro. In Koro, Florence found a Local Councilor she recognized. He took the children to a hospital where their injuries were treated. Then they were taken to Gulu to the child soldier rehabilitation center, GUSCO. GUSCO made a radio announcement about the recently rescued child soldiers. Florence‚Äôs aunt heard the announcement and came to retrieve her.
Florence‚Äôs aunt took her in, and Florence started primary school. Unfortunately as with many former child soldiers, relations between family members are strained by the experience. Often the parents or distant relatives will not take in the child soldiers because they believe the child willingly joined the rebels and carried out atrocities by choice.
Florence lived with her aunt for about eight years until one day when her mother returned in 2010. Florence‚Äôs mother had been in the captivity of the LRA for nine years. She was able to escape by hiding in a latrine pit. She eventually made her way to Gulu and stayed at GUSCO while she recovered.
Because of the long, hard years Florence‚Äôs mother spent in captivity, she is unable to work and can‚Äôt afford school fees. Luckily, Florence was able to connect with Hope North.
At Hope North, Florence enjoys the learning environment and facilities. She is now in Senior Two and says it is easier because she knows the teachers better and has developed a relationship with them. She particularly enjoys learning about agriculture and the sciences. In her free time she plays netball, dances the Larakaraka and Bola dances, and sings praise and worship songs.
After she graduates she wants to be a nurse or a forester if is able to go to a university.
She wants the supporters of Hope North to know she appreciates their help and wants them to continue supporting students like her. She also wishes that God will bless them.
“Escape from Fire” ¬† ¬†
When Francis Okwera was five years old, he and his parents awoke from their sleep to find their hut ablaze. The Lord‚Äôs Resistance Army was attacking Francis‚Äô village and had set¬†fires to force people out of their homes. Francis managed to escape but ¬†his parents were burned alive. Then the rebels captured him.
¬†Since he was too young to fight, Francis was given heavy loads to carry for long distances without rest. After his capture in the Pader District, he walked with the rebel army to the border of Sudan. He was exhausted and starving, but the rebels told him if he stopped, they would shoot him.¬†To survive the walk, Francis cleverly poked holes in the sacks he carried so the salt inside would slowly spill out¬†and make his load lighter.
When he and the LRA were traveling through Matidi in Kitgum, the Ugandan army ambushed them, and he was able to escape. ¬†After seven years in captivity, he was finally free. Francis ran to the South Sudan border where he found the Ugandan army. They transported him by helicopter to Gulu, but his troubles were far from over.
In Gulu, he stayed with distant relatives, but they were reticent to accept him due to the intense stigma many former child soldiers face upon returning home. His problems did not end there.¬† He started primary school, but a corrupt school manager stole his school fees. Without school fees, Francis had to work as a bricklayer for two years. ¬†Through an accelerated program, he finally completed primary school in 2009.
After that Francis tried to attend a secondary school in his hometown of Pajule, but couldn‚Äôt afford to finish his studies there. In 2013, he heard about Hope North and registered for senior two.
‚Äė‚ÄôHope North is very good,‚ÄĚ Francis says. ‚ÄúThe environment supports a reading culture – an academic culture.‚ÄĚ
Francis likes sciences because he finds it easy, and he says it is the ‚Äústudy of the future.‚ÄĚ ¬†He also likes playing defensive positions in football and coaching the other students.¬† In his free time he likes to make up stories and tell jokes.
After he graduates from Hope North, Francis wants to go to Gulu University and become a doctor because he wants to alleviate the diseases found in his home district of Pader.
Francis wants the supporters of Hope North to please continue supporting students like him.
“She was often forced to carry a 20-kilo sack of beans – a large load for a six year old”
On Christmas Day 2003, the LRA captured Irene along with her father, three sisters, and two brothers from their home in Pajule in the Pader District.¬† After the LRA killed her father, Irene and her siblings were forced to march to Achobo.¬† Her brothers and sisters managed to escape there, but Irene remained in captivity.
While Irene was in captivity she was forced to carry supplies for Joseph Kony‚Äôs army. She was often forced to carry a 20-kilo sack of beans ‚Äď a large load for a six year old. If she was thirsty, the rebels made her drink her own urine.¬† She was also forced to steal food from other villagers as the LRA moved around the north.
One day in the district of Pader the Ugandan army ambushed the LRA.¬† The rebels left the children unguarded while they fought the Ugandan soldiers, so Irene and the others took their opportunity to escape. They managed to travel to Gulu where an organization called Caratus took them in. Caratus supplied Irene with clothes, a blanket, and a school uniform before sending her back to Pajule to be with her family.
Irene started primary school then, but still couldn‚Äôt afford everything she needed for school.¬† She had to wash clothes and fetch water and firewood in order to get the money to buy school supplies.¬† After finishing primary school, Irene struggled to obtain a sponsorship for secondary school.¬† Fortunately, she learned of Hope North and was able to register last year.
At Hope North Irene enjoys the quiet learning environment that facilities like the library provide.¬† Her favorite subject is English. Most of all she likes performing the Acholi dances she learned at home.
After she graduates from Hope North Irene wants to be a teacher because she loves children, but that all depends on whether she is able to secure a scholarship to university.
“From Child Soldier to Head Boy to future president?”
At the age of four, Patrick became an orphan. He was captured by Joseph Kony‚Äôs Lord‚Äôs Resistance Army along with his mother and father from their home in Pajule in the Pader District and forced to walk 200 kilometers to the Sudanese border. They were given nothing to eat for the first week. When Patrick‚Äôs father became injured and unable to walk, the soldiers shot and killed him in front of Patrick and his mother, who were then told not to cry or show emotion.
Patrick and his mother were then forced to walk another 100 kilometers being fed nothing but food scraps. At that point he and his mother were separated into different battalions of fighters. That was the last time he saw his mother. A few days later, Patrick‚Äôs battalion was ambushed by the Ugandan army who dropped bombs on the LRA force. Patrick and other child soldiers scattered and escaped in the mayhem. Patrick ran alone to the town of Agoro along the Sudanese border where he was found by an old woman who took him to the nearby Ugandan army barracks.
Patrick stayed in the army barracks for two months. Save the Children and the Red Cross provided support for the former child soldiers there. He was given a hut, and an announcement was made on the radio listing his name among the rescued child soldiers. Patrick‚Äôs sister heard the announcement, and his grandmother went to bring him supplies. He stayed with the Red Cross for five months before he was returned to his grandmother and seven siblings.
Since then, Patrick‚Äôs grandmother has taken care of him and his siblings, making a living on a small subsistence farm with crops and some livestock. But now his grandmother is too old to work, and his family cannot afford the secondary school fees for himself or his siblings. Luckily, Patrick found Hope North.
Patrick has been attending Hope North since he began senior one in 2012. He says his favorite thing about the school is that it gives him a ‚Äúhappy life.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúRebels were disturbing us a lot. We didn‚Äôt have school fees after the war,‚ÄĚ Patrick said. ‚ÄúBut now I can speak and write English thanks to Hope North. I don‚Äôt think about my problems here. Among the other students I can talk and laugh. We can read a lot of novels in the library, practice music and dance, learn the Acholi culture and others like Buganda, Ankole, Alur, and Batoro.‚ÄĚ
Patrick says he enjoys physics, math, biology and geography because these subjects help him analyze his surroundings and makes him quick at problem solving. He also plays as a striker or a winger on the Hope North football team and looks forward to the next tournament with the local schools in the Kiryandongo District.
After he graduates from Hope North he wants to attend university to study to be a teacher or a journalist. He says his experience as an Information Prefect will help him since he likes to collect data and write about the news.¬† Currently he is the Head Boy of the school and wants to be president of Uganda one day.¬†[Look for a follow up interview about Patrick‚Äôs great ambition on the Hope North blog. To be sure not to miss it, you can like us on Facebook:¬†http://on.fb.me/1h0klKi]
Patrick wants Hope North supporters to know that their support is helping the students achieve their goals.
“We were made to drink urine and goat blood”
At the age of 11, Millie was captured along with her cousin by the Lord‚Äôs Resistance Army in their hometown of¬†Paciho¬†in the Gulu District. They were forced to carry luggage for the rebel army for many miles. Soon after their capture, the LRA killed her cousin.
‚ÄúIf you tell them you are tired, they will kill you. If you complained, they would cut off a hand or an arm.¬† If you said you were thirsty, you were made to drink urine or goat blood,‚ÄĚ Millie remembers.
Millie suffered in the bush for one year, and often looked for opportunities to escape. One day she and six other children were sent to collect firewood, and Millie saw such an opportunity.¬† For a while, she and the other children worked to gather a pile of wood, so it appeared that they were working. When the soldier guarding them was distracted, she told the other children to go into the bush and start crawling on their stomachs.
They crawled slowly overnight, and in the morning they found a man and woman hoeing their field. The man and woman took them in, treated their wounds with hot water and salt, gave them food and water, and cut their hair and gave them new clothes.¬† After that, they sent the children to the Gulu army barracks.¬† After the barracks received the children, they made an announcement over the radio about the rescue. Millie‚Äôs mom heard the announcement and came to the barracks to reunite with her daughter.
Millie‚Äôs father had been killed by the LRA years earlier, so when she returned home she had to work to put herself through primary school. She would fetch water and use the money she earned to buy her school uniform and other supplies. After she finished primary school, an organization called Kicaber informed her of Hope North and she enrolled in 2011.
‚ÄúI like the environment, which is conducive to learning,‚ÄĚ Millie says of Hope North.¬† ‚ÄúOther schools have discos at night and you can‚Äôt concentrate. The teachers teach well and we understand and perform well. Also, the accommodations are good when compared to other schools.‚ÄĚ
One of the favorite things at Hope North are the traditional dances. She learned them while at the school and says she couldn‚Äôt learn them at home or in primary school.
After she graduates from Hope North, Millie wishes to attend university.
Millie would like to extend a sincere thank you to all the supporters of Hope North.