Uganda welcomes an influx of South Sudanese, Rwandan, and Congolese who have suffered the unthinkable, left everything behind and trusted their fate to the compassion of their fellow global citizens.
Since July 2016, over 450,000 refugees have fled South Sudan and received services from UNHCR, which includes access to quality education. Without it, refugee girls are particularly vulnerable to child marriage, child labor, and trafficking.
Our Girl Up leaders visited Uganda and talked to girls at Nyumanzi and Palorinya refugee settlement schools about their journey. What we found was that by helping girls get an education, Girl Up and UNHCR also gave girls hope.
Holly is a class teacher at Nyumanzi refugee settlement.
“The girls here at the school face challenges because some of their parents have a negative attitude toward education, which is why the number of girls in the school are few and less than the one of boys. We, the teachers, keep talking to the parents here to send their girls to school. Girls are also important.
Once you educate a girl, the whole nation will be educated. When a girl is educated, she can manage her home well, care for a child well, and once a girl cares for a child well, the whole nation will be okay.
It is good to educate the Sudanese refugees here, especially girls, so that when we go back to South Sudan we can stop the war by using our minds, not guns or fighting. Educated people always understand themselves easily – better than a person who has not gone to school.”
Fifteen-year-old Kayla, who attends school at Palorinya refugee settlement, with her friend.
“I was in P8 last year and this year I’m supposed to go to secondary school. I’m excited. My favorite subjects are social studies, science, and English. They’re all good for me, but I want to become a lawyer so that I can go back to Sudan and control the people who are fighting.
I came here last year; the journey was not okay. They arrested some and killed others. We said a prayer and started our journey… it took us four days. We didn’t even eat. We were praying to God that we’d eat in Uganda, and we hurried to get here because it was not easy.
I like going to school because school is good. If you study, you will have a bright future. I like going to school because if I study, I can care for myself and for my family. I can help people who cannot care for themselves like orphans and the disabled.”
Sara is a refugee girl at Nyumanzi refugee settlement where many students are lacking supplies and adequate meals.
“I’m from South Sudan and I came here in 2014. I came here because of money and left South Sudan because of war. I’m in P6 now, but I’m going to P7. My school here doesn’t have P7; it is too far for us to go there. It’s 3 kilometers away, so you’d miss the lesson. My favorite subject is English. I like to speak English. I want to be a lawyer when I grow up, to solve the problems of the people of South Sudan. There’s so much corruption.
I want to go to secondary school so that I can finish schooling and help my parents. I want to go to university as well.
I want to support my country because there are so many problems are facing it. I don’t think it’ll stop, but if there is peace it’ll stop. Now there is no peace. If we can finish school, we’ll go back there and maybe we can do something to create peace. I have 3 brothers. They think it’s good that I’m going to school.”
You can help provide education for refugee girls in northern Uganda by donating to Girl Up-supported UNHCR programs that provide girls with books, uniforms, and supplies so they can go to school. Give today at GirlUp.org/donate.