“I want to be a doctor,” Elizabeth says. “My favourite subjects are biology, chemistry, and physics.”
Her friend Rebecca wants to be either a doctor or a journalist. Elizabeth and Rebecca, who are both 17, are students at St Mary Assumpta Girls’ school in Adjumani, Uganda, which was recently awarded first place in the region. They’re both Dinka, from Jonglei in South Sudan and are now living as refugees in Northern Uganda. They have been able to attend the school thanks to a sponsorship programme funded by Jesuit Missions partner, Jesuit Refugee Service East Africa (JRS EA).
JRS EA intends to send over 1,000 refugees and members of the host community to school in the next three years through their sponsorship programme in Adjumani. Currently less than half of refugee students graduate from primary schools or have access to secondary education.
Uganda hosts over one million refugees and asylum seekers, making it the African country with the most refugees and other forcibly displaced people, due to its relative peace, stability and economic growth. Half of all refugees in Uganda are from South Sudan, and over half are children.
Northern Uganda, which receives over 2,000 refugees each day, is the least developed part of the country and this constant influx of people can put enormous strain on a population already struggling to feed and provide for themselves. Uganda’s generous and liberal policies to welcoming refugees, including allowing freedom of movement and ability to work, most likely stems from Uganda’s fresh memory of being refugees themselves during their three decades of civil war.
Fr Kevin White SJ, JRS Country director in Uganda asks Rebecca and Elizabeth, “How will peace come to South Sudan?” Elizabeth replies, “We who are sponsored by JRS are able to make a change – we are enough! We can then move South Sudan forward like other countries.” “This is what we want,” Rebecca added, “to be like other countries.”
In Kampala, the capital of Uganda, JRS EA is one of the few organizations providing emergency assistance to urban refugees. JRS offers in-house skills trainings aimed at reducing dependency, promoting self-reliance, and thereby recognizing the dignity of refugees, who want the chance to live in peace and provide for themselves.
JRS Kampala is working to remove language barriers by teaching English to the mostly French speaking refugees and sponsors children to continue their education in primary and secondary schools.
Jesuit Missions will be supporting JRS East Africa’s work with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda this year; supported by the fundraising of our 33 runners who are running the London Marathon next month.
The Marathon team will also be supporting a Para legal Programme in India, which you can read more about here.
Meet some of this year’s London Marathon team here and support their efforts by visiting their fundraising pages helping them to raise funds allowing more students such as Rebecca and Elizabeth to continue with their education.
Read about the team of runners from Mount St Mary’s here.