Africare News Release
Edwina, the third of nine children, is determined to become a doctor. She lives in Uganda's Ntungamo District. Her surname, Atusingwire, is a Banyankore name meaning “she has overcome or succeeded.”
Edwina, outside her family’s house, stands amid banana trees once owned by her parents, who sold most of their farm to help fund their children's schooling.
Children not only receive scholarships, but they also give back to the community by teaching others (siblings, community members and parents) about HIV/AIDS prevention and control — through student club activities.
Women's Empowerment Africa-Wide: Edwina’s Story
Africare will celebrate Edwina’s triumphant journey and countless other examples of African women’s empowerment at this year's Africare Bishop Walker Dinner: Thursday evening, October 18, 2007, in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, DC, August 30, 2007 — In the village of Nyanga, in Ntungamo District, Uganda, 18-year-old Edwina gazes out the window of her family’s small house, lost in big thoughts. Edwina, the third of nine children, is determined to become a doctor. Her surname, Atusingwire, is a Banyankore name meaning “she has overcome or succeeded”: Edwina thinks of this not merely as a name, but as a prophecy to be fulfilled.
She points to the trees outside her window. “All these banana plants used to be ours,” she says. Edwina’s soft-spoken voice conveys a warm spirit and a sharp intellect. Her large eyes, yellowed from a lingering case of malaria, tell yet another story of their own.
At 15, Edwina was an excellent student, but her parents were running low on money to pay for their daughter’s education. They had sold almost everything — furnishings, cows, most of their banana farm and other land — with the hope of getting at least one of their children through secondary school. As their resources became more and more depleted, they still had hopes for Edwina, perhaps due to her sheer determination to succeed.
At this time, Edwina’s father started work as a night watchman at the Rwentobo High School, where she was enrolled. But his salary was insufficient to keep her in school, let alone meet the basic family needs.
“We had almost nothing left,” recalled Edwina. She wouldn’t let her parents sell their last piece of farmland: an act that would have left her siblings without any means of sustenance.
The headmaster of Rwentobo High School, Justus Gumisiriza, realized the desperate situation in Edwina’s household. “There was no future left for her,” he said.
Edwina’s case was reported to Africare as preparations were being made to conduct interviews for Africare’s Orphan and Needy Child Scholarship Program in the Ntungamo District. Edwina was included among the candidates, and later she succeeded in receiving one of the program’s 70 educational scholarships.
Today, after three years in this program, Edwina is an illustrious graduate of Rwentobo High. She is now a first-year student at Makerere University, where she is studying environmental health. She is the pride of her family.
“Africare is a parent to me,” says Edwina. “They took me up and made me a success.”
The Africare educational support activity in Ntungamo was started in 2001 by the co-founder and then President of Africare, C. Payne Lucas, after his visit to the district. Since then, Africare has continued to raise funds from private sponsors to pay for educational materials and school fees for disadvantaged children like Edwina at Rwentobo High.
“We are indeed very grateful to Africare for helping our school support these orphans and poor children,” said Headmaster Gumisiriza.
The Rwentobo Orphan and Needy Child Scholarship Program has been one activity within the larger and more comprehensive support provided by Africare to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in Uganda. Africare now provides clean water, nutritional support, scholarships, peer education and psychosocial support to prevent or cope with HIV/AIDS, vocational skills training for out-of-school OVC and income generation opportunities for OVC caregivers. In addition, Africare assists with capacity building on the part of local governments, NGO partners and community coordination structures that deliver services to OVC.
“It has been well established that economic empowerment of women and their free participation in economic activity are essential to achieving sustainable growth in Africa,” notes Africare Senior Vice President Jeannine B. Scott. “Improvements in the key areas of education and training, agricultural productivity, health and nutrition, and access to water and sanitation are necessary to bring about these changes.”
The Africare Bishop Walker Dinner, October 18: Celebrating Women's Empowerment Africa-Wide
Africare will celebrate Edwina’s triumphant journey and countless other examples of African women’s empowerment at the 17th Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner: Thursday evening, October 18, 2007, in Washington, D.C. The Africare Dinner is now the largest annual event for Africa in the United States. The event was first held in October 1990 in memory of the late John T. Walker, the first African-American Episcopal bishop of Washington and the longtime chairman of Africare's Board, who passed away on September 30, 1989.
This year’s theme, “women’s empowerment Africa-wide,” will be exemplified by a salute to Africa’s first elected female head of state: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. At the event, Africare will present President Johnson Sirleaf with the 2007 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award. Given each year at the Africare Dinner, the award recognizes those whose work has had a significant impact on raising the standard of living in Africa. Prior recipients include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, then President Nelson Mandela, and other distinguished individuals such as Andrew Young, Dorothy I. Height, Graca Machel, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.
Proceeds from the event help support Africare's mission of assistance to the people of Africa in the areas of food security and agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS, water resource development, environmental management, literacy and vocational training, microenterprise development, governance, and emergency humanitarian aid. The Africare Dinner is a top multicultural affair as well, embracing all races and a wide array of cultures and nationalities from around the world.
For more information —
Contact the Africare Dinner Office at:
- Telephone: 202-328-5364
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase tables or tickets —
- Click here to purchase online.
- To purchase offline, contact the Africare Dinner Office.