This is the story of three South Sudanese refugee children (not pictured) who thought their education was over. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Of the many hardships that affect refugee children, the interruption of their education can have the most far-reaching impact. This was certainly true for Dhieu Ajieth Nyok (15 yrs), Padiet Gabriel Deng (18 yrs) and Irene Baako (16 yrs), three young people who had been forced to flee the war in South Sudan. Living in refugee settlements over the border in Uganda, their chances to resume or catch up on their education seemed bleak. But after being introduced to the Accelerated Learning Program that War Child Canada is running in the settlements, all three graduate primary school with high marks. With War Child Canada’s assistance they were granted full scholarships by the Windle Trust to attend secondary school. This is a fantastic achievement and proof that with the right intervention children can realize their potential, even in the shadow of war.
Our staff in Uganda were able to catch up with them.
War Child Canada: Congratulations on your scholarships! How does it feel to be moving on to secondary education?
Irene: Thank you – I am very happy to be in secondary school and feeling okay!
Padiet: I feel very, very excited and happy.
War Child Canada: How did you find out you had won the scholarship?
Padiet: I found out from War Child Canada, actually. They encouraged us to complete our education and they linked us up with the Windle Trust for Secondary Scholarship.
Dhieu: A War Child Canada staff member came to my settlement looking for me and gave me a form to fill in. After a few days I was called for interview at the Windle Trust office. After the interview the War Child staff again came to tell me I was successful. I have positive attitudes to education and that is what I told the panelists in the interview.
War Child Canada: Are your family proud of your achievements?
Irene: My guardian is so excited and happy for me. She encourages me to concentrate on my studies.
Dhieu: I am an unaccompanied minor. I lost both my parents to the war in South Sudan. I live with my elder brother, Atem, and my aunt who takes care of us. They are both very happy and proud. My brother always encourages me to concentrate on my education.
Padiet: I was very sad as an elder son in my family for being a school dropout but when I got this opportunity I was very excited and happy and my mother is very happy too.
War Child Canada: How did the ALP classes help you?
Irene: When we arrived at the refugee settlement after leaving South Sudan, I joined the local primary school. But because I could not afford to pay the registration fee or buy a uniform, I was sent home. I stayed home that whole year. When the ALP started, I enrolled and I was able to complete primary in those classes. I did not have to pay any money, I was given school materials and the teachers kept encouraging us to work hard. This helped me pass and get the scholarship.
Padiet: Having dropped out of schooling, I was confused and had no hope for education. War Child Canada provided me with ALP, which enabled me to complete primary school. They gave me a free education and provided me with enough materials. The teachers encouraged me a lot. This way I passed well at the primary level.
War Child Canada: What do you hope to do after you graduate?
Dhieu: I want to be a doctor. That was my dream.
Irene: I want to be a nurse:
Padiet: I want to be a pilot. That was my dream from childhood.
War Child Canada: What would you like to tell our donors about the ALP program?
Dhieu: I want to tell them to continue giving to education. My experience when I came to secondary school was that I was scared but now I am liking it. I want to tell my teachers to keep encouraging those students in Primary, so that they also succeed.
Padiet: They should continue giving support to children like me, so that we can achieve our dreams. There are many children here in the settlement who cannot pay school fees because of the war. To my fellow children in the ALP classes, I want to encourage you to work hard and succeed, so that War Child Canada can also help you get to secondary education.
Irene: I only want to say thank you for the support given to me and others and request that they do the same for other children like me.