What is an Ik?

An Ik community
This weekend, I’ll be meeting an Ik.  Five of them actually.  The Ik are a small and very marginalized group of people that live in Northern Uganda right near the Uganda-Kenya-South Sudan border.  Among the 12,000 Ik, only one has attended higher education.  Because they live more than 40 kms from the nearest town where most schools are, it difficult for the Ik children to access education, despite the free primary education for all Ugandan children. The lack of educated leadership among the Ik has kept them at a disadvantage in terms of being able to advocate for their basic rights to education, healthcare, roads, water and food security; hence making the area lag behind in terms of development. They have also received little support from humanitarian agencies working in the region.  Since 2006, MCC has had a partnership with KOPEIN (a local NGO) to provide sponsorship for Ik children to attend school, which has been the only consistent educational support for Ik children.   MCC currently supports about 90 Ik children in primary and secondary schools.
A student sponsored by MCC standing next to her home
                This afternoon, we embark on another “fun family adventure” and will be traveling to Hoima for the weekend, a town about 3 hours from Kampala.  We have a partnership with an organization called Living with Shalom, which brings together youth from different MCC partners from all over Uganda.  The three week training focuses on breaking down stereotypes and teaching about conflict resolution, health, and the environment.  To end the training, they hold a big cultural presentation where the different groups perform songs, poems, dances, etc from their culture.
  For the first time, five Ik children are participating in the Living with Shalom training.  For all of them, it is their first time to travel outside of their home area.  For the rest of the Living with Shalom participants, it is their first time interacting with an Ik (many Ugandans have never even heard of the Ik!)  We are really looking forward to meeting the Ik and the rest of the Living with Shalom participants, and I’ll post an update next week when we return.
                In other news, thank you for your prayers for Natalie – there were NO TEARS this week when I dropped her off at school, which is definitely an answer to prayer!   Now that she is feeling comfortable, she seems to be really enjoying school and always has lots of stories for me when I pick her up.

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