By Sarah Lagot Odwong (Uganda Christian University, Mass Communications Class of 2015)
Anna Betu was born in 1985 to a Congolese father and a Ugandan mother in the border town of Busia, Eastern Uganda. Her father was an artist, and her mother a midwife—both parents travelled regularly.
When Anna was eight years old and living in Kenya, her parents were arrested from their housing estate and jailed by Kenyan Police on suspicion of aiding rebels fighting the Ugandan government. They were jailed for six months. Anna and her little brother were left to fend for themselves in their house until their step-brother came over from Uganda and took them back home.
Anna’s parents divorced soon after and her mother came back to Uganda, although her stint in jail had left her unemployed. Even though Anna achieved high school grades that were good enough to get her into a university, her mother’s financial handicap could not accord her the opportunity to study. She was not able to pursue a university education.
In the following years, Anna moved to Kampala where she struggled working various jobs. Through this hard work, Anna was able to save up money to apply and get an undergraduate admission to Uganda Christian University to study Governance and International Relations in September 2015. More than 10 years after originally giving up her hope of attending university, Anna was finally realizing her dream.
Now 30 years old and the mother of two children, she did not envision how difficult it would be to pay the tuition and manage her studying. Anna had to juggle several odd jobs and motherhood with schoolwork. One of her jobs was through UCU’s Work and Study program that hires students to do jobs around campus. Despite all this, Anna was maintaining straight A’s and on track to graduate with honors. However, a breakdown was inevitable. She failed to raise tuition to meet registration deadlines but with the help of her instructors, classmates and scholarships from the Financial Aid Office, she managed to progress to the second year of her studies.
Anna was again facing a lost semester this year when the commitment from Church of the Epiphany changed that. The scholarship has lifted a huge financial burden. Anna is once again able to focus on her future and after graduation hopes to get gainful employment with United Nations Human Rights Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to advocate for the rights of refugee women and children.
“God has been merciful to let me return to school. I see this scholarship, this education as an investment in the lives of my two daughters and in the lives of the refugee women I am working with. When you educate a woman, you have transformed a society,” Anna concludes.