Journey Across Africa: Sierra Leonean Students Begin University in Uganda

08/19/13

On Friday, August 9, N'gardy stood at the airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for the first flight of her life. She and her classmate, Susan, were taking off for Uganda to realize a goal they would have never dreamed possible, even a few months ago—attending university.

N'gardy and her friend Susan will be attending LivingStone International Univers

                 N'gardy and her friend Susan will be attending LivingStone International University in Uganda. 
 
If you had told N'gardy and Susan ten years ago that they would one day attend university, neither would have believed you. N'gardy lost both her parents when she was just a baby, and had no living relatives who were able to care for her. Susan was living on the streets of Freetown with her sister. Chances for them to even attend secondary school—let alone graduate and continue to university—were very slim. 
 
Through child sponsorship, N'gardy and Susan now have a home—the Children of the Nations Banta Children's Village—where they grew up alongside ninety-seven other children from similar circumstances. N'gardy and Susan are among the oldest of their "siblings" there at the Children's Village, so they have forged the way for the younger ones to follow.  
 
Susan (second from right) and N'gardy grew up in COTN's Children's Homes.
Susan (second from right) and N'gardy grew up in COTN's Children's Homes. Susan lived in the House of Peace, with other girls her age. 
 
N’gardy and Susan were in the first class to begin COTN's secondary school in Sierra Leone, and also among the first class of graduates. That means they were also among the first to deal with the challenges of going to university. "We are pioneers," says Susan. "Because we have to start something for others." 
 
Susan and N'gardy were in COTN–Sierra Leone's first class of graduates in 2012
       Susan (pictured here) and N'gardy were among COTN–Sierra Leone's first class of graduates in spring 2012. 
 
But for a while, it looked like university was a dream that would never happen. Both girls did well on their national exams—very challenging tests that have had a passing rate as low as 15 percent in previous years—but they weren't able to get into university in Sierra Leone. On top of that, due to a change in government policy, they had to wait two years until they could retake the exam. 

Susan and N'gardy didn't give up hope. They spent the next year serving their younger COTN brothers and sisters and their community. N'gardy poured her heart, mind, and time into teaching at COTN's school, often staying late after school to help the children study. Susan tested her fledgling business and administration skills working for COTN in the sponsorship, finance, and resource departments. 
 
People like you didn't give up on N'gardy and Susan either. Nor did COTN's Education Director Wendy Brown, who has been faithfully praying for these students since they graduated. Her prayers led her to research some options, and she came across LivingStone International University, a new university in Uganda not far from COTN's ministry center in Lira. 
 
Now Susan and N'gardy, who have been role models and inspirations for all their younger brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone, will be leaders and examples for a new group of COTN children. "What a blessing it will be for the Ugandan children, who are mostly all still in primary school, to look up to some COTN university students," says Wendy, marveling at how everything came together so perfectly. 
 
N'gardy knows why things came together so well. "God alone plans things in the most pleasing and perfect way," she wrote in a letter to her sponsors after she graduated, asking them to pray for her higher education. 
 
N'gardy has been asking her sponsors to pray for her next step in education
        N'gardy has been asking her sponsors to pray for her next step in education since she graduated in 2012. 
 
N'gardy, who will study Christian Ministry, and Susan, who is pursuing a degree in Business Administration, see this as an opportunity not only for themselves, but for their nation as a whole. "Our country is classed as one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world," Susan reports. "After my education, I will come and serve in my country to develop our economy, so that the hungry and the suffering children would no longer starve."

Susan (left) and N'gardy, just after they arrived in Uganda, with (from left to right) Education Consultant Lindsey Mueller, Education Director Wendy Brown, Uganda Communications Coordinator Hadrine Akullo, and Uganda Liaison Sylvia Taussig, who all accompanied them to the university. 

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