Crossing Africa to Achieve a Dream: N'gardy Graduates from College


Two years ago a young woman who had never even left her country set off on a journey across Africa. Her goal was to earn a college degree—an accomplishment both rare and difficult where she comes from. The path she took to get there certainly wasn’t typical. But then again, no former orphan girl from a remote village in Sierra Leone who earns a college degree could be called typical. 

                                                                        N'gardy on graduation day. 

N’gardy gave up the hope of attending school when she was young. Her parents both died and her grandmother took her in. As the only grandchild living with three other children—and a girl at that—N’gardy knew her chances of attending school were slim. She was lucky if she even got anything to eat. “My grandmother could barely provide a meal for me,” N’gardy explains, ”so the possibility of her keeping me in school was negative.”    
It was through her sponsors that the possibility of education opened up again. “I would have been nowhere—no hope, no dream, no self-confidence—without the help of COTN and my sponsors,” N’gardy says. “I thank God that they believed in me and gave me the opportunity to become educated.”
Through child sponsorship, N’gardy was able to move into COTN’s Children’s Home in Sierra Leone, and attend COTN’s school. Even though she had all the support she needed, making it to college was still a huge hurdle for her. She watched as one by one, her girlfriends from the surrounding villages dropped out of school, due to pregnancies, marriages, or because they were needed at home. These are all factors COTN is working to combat, but the fact remains that young Sierra Leonean women have a lot of trials, temptations, and cultural pressures that make it hard for them to stay in school.
If they make it through all their classes, high school seniors must take a test that's nearly impossible to pass in order to be considered for most Sierra Leonean universities. N’gardy studied and did well, but her marks weren’t high enough to be considered for university in Sierra Leone. Again, N’gardy came to a place where she thought her education was over. But her sponsors and house parents had taught her to work hard and have hope, so she didn’t give up.
Then, an opportunity emerged for N’gardy and her classmate Susan to study in Uganda. A new Christian university opened and was willing to partner with COTN to help these two girls earn their degrees. So a slightly terrified N’gardy stepped onto a plane for the first time and took off to an unknown culture and country. 

   Susan (left) and N'gardy on graduation day. Susan enrolled in a four-year degree program and will graduate in two years.
Everything was different in Uganda, N’gardy says. Ugandan culture, food, and the local language differ greatly from Sierra Leone. Every time a staff member visited from Sierra Leone, N’gardy begged for hot peppers to spice up the bland Ugandan dishes. 
But one thing was the same—the COTN family, and the family of Christ. “God always remains God, even when you find yourself in a totally strange land or country,” she says. On breaks, N’gardy got to visit COTN’s ministry site in Uganda. There, they have children’s homes and a school, similar to the one N’gardy grew up in in Sierra Leone. “Getting to meet my COTN family in Uganda—meeting and spending time with the children and staff—that made my every moment,” she said.
A crowd of children always gathers around when N’gardy hangs out at the Uganda Children’s Homes. She laughs as she teaches them songs from Sierra Leone and leads them in games. COTN’s program in Uganda is newer, so none of the children are college-age yet. It’s an inspiration and encouragement for them to spend time with N’gardy and Susan. 

My extraordinary daughter, Anita Ngardy, leading Ugandan children in games. God is too good giving us this time together in Lira, Uganda! O Bango ber!!

Posted by Linda St Clair on Sunday, July 5, 2015
      Watch the video of N'gardy leading the Ugandan children in a song she sang in Sierra Leone. 

Watch the video of N'gardy leading the Ugandan children in a song from Sierra Leone

An even larger crowd than normal awaited N’gardy when she traveled back to COTN's Uganda minstry center this last time. On Saturday, July 18, N’gardy graduated from Livingstone University with a two-year degree in Christian ministry. She says this program has helped her know God on a deeper level, and has helped her realize where she wants to go next. She hopes to continue her studies in education so she can become a teacher. “I want to help children achieve their God-ordained destiny,” she says. 

One of N'gardy's sponsors, Linda (center, left), was able to attend her graduation ceremony in Uganda. "I was so humbled and honored to be part of this significant life event," Linda says. 
Help a child like N’gardy achieve her dream—sponsor a child today!