Three “firsts” for us and for MCC Uganda

As I mentioned in my last post, life has been too busy since we returned from our vacation.  I am so thankful that things have finally returned to a normal pace (didn’t I write a post last year about a slower pace of life here in Uganda???)  Thankfully, that still holds true most of the time.  Here are three highlights of three “firsts” for us and for MCC Uganda that have happened in the past several weeks:

First Ik female ever headed to University!

I’ve written several posts about the Ik education program we have in Northern Uganda for this marginalized group.  This year, for the first time ever, Priscillah, one of our Ik sponsored students, did well enough on her high school exams to be given a district scholarship to study Public Administration at Kampala International University.  We are all so excited for her, and her community even declared a public holiday in her honor.  Priscillah is the first Ik female ever to attend higher education!

Priscillah in the KIU library

Priscillah in the KIU library

 Unfortunately, this scholarship has come with its share of

Priscillah on campus at KIU

Priscillah on campus at KIU

challenges.  First, there was a lot of logistics and bureaucracy that we had to go through to secure the scholarship.  The biggest challenge, however, is that the scholarship only covers tuition fees, and there is no funding for books, accommodation, food, transportation, etc.  We are working on putting together a proposal to see if MCC Uganda can help cover these costs starting next year (our Ik sponsorship currently only goes through high school), but for now Priscillah has been staying in our house and we’ve been helping her with transportation money.  If anyone is interested in helping out with her expenses, please send me an email (mccrep@uganda.mcc.org) and I can give you more information.  Despite the challenges, Priscillah was finally able to begin classes a few weeks ago and she is enjoying school so far.

First YAMEN volunteers welcomed to Uganda

Mennonite Central Committee has three exchange programs for young adults:  SALT, where North American volunteers are sent to countries around the world to volunteer for a year, IVEP, where volunteers from countries around the world are sent to North America to volunteer for a year, and YAMEN, where volunteers from countries around the world are sent to other countries outside of North America.  MCC Uganda has always had an active SALT and IVEP program, but this year for the first time we received YAMEN volunteers in Uganda.

In mid August, we welcomed three new volunteers who will be living with local Ugandan families and volunteering in the communities for one year.  We welcomed Steven, from Colombia, Thany, from Cambodia, and Bethany, from Canada.   Steven will be assisting with the Living With Shalom training, as well as assisting with other youth programs through the Anglican Diocese of Hoima.  Thany, who has a background in counseling victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia, will be working as a guidance counselor at Stella Matutina, a school where many of the students have been traumatized by the 20 years of war in the North.  Bethany will be working at a mixed secondary school in Masaka teaching English and Computers to the students.

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Our current MCC Uganda team at our latest team meeting

We really enjoyed getting to know each of these volunteers during their orientation week in Kampala, and we are looking forward to working with them over the next year.

We hosted our first Learning Tour as MCC reps

 learningtour
Several learning tour participants talk with students at St Luwum

Learning Tours are groups of people who visit countries where MCC is active in order to learn more about MCC programs and partners in that country.  While MCC Uganda has hosted learning tours in the past, this was our first learning tour as the Reps.  The group consisted of eleven senior staff and board member from MCC Canada, and one member from MCC USA.  They spent six days with MCC Ethiopia, and then spent 6 days with us in Uganda.  In those 6 days, we managed to visit 8 different MCC partners, some in Kampala and some in Northern Uganda.  The group also was able to meet and hear testimonies from several beneficiaries who have been impacted by the work MCC has been doing in the country.  We are grateful that all the logistics ran smoothly, and we really enjoyed the interactions with the group members.  Here is their blog from their time in Uganda:

http://mcceastafrica.wordpress.com/

Now that life is back to a normal pace, I hope to update my blog on a regular basis, hopefully on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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