Over the course of five days, community members, international supporters, clergy, local and national leaders gathered on the grounds of the Pader Girls Senior Secondary School (PGSS) for a celebration that marked CCF’s 10 year anniversary and five years since the opening of PGSS.
The theme for the celebration was “renewed commitment to serving humanity for all,” a theme made apparent during the presentations and exhibitions of the main anniversary event which took place on Friday, April 20. More than 400 guests explored the exhibition tables which showcased the work of CCF beneficiaries, including displays by CCF-supported youth peace clubs, honey sales by members of CCF’s bee keeping livelihood program, and food, purses, jewelry and baked goods for sale from vocational students of PGSS.
The event drew a global audience with supporters from Europe, Australia and the United States as well as Ugandans from throughout the country. The chief guest and presenter for the ceremony was the Reverend Archbishop of Uganda, Luke Orombi, who offered a thanksgiving service and blessing for the work of the school and CCF. Additional honored guests and speakers included members of the Ugandan parliament, Woman MP for Pader C.D. Lowila, Bishop Ochola, Bishop Ojwang, and Dr. Edmond Kelly of the Uganda Fund.
The main event was augmented by a media campaign, research and documentation, and youth conference related to CCF’s work and goals. In the week prior to the April 20 celebration, CCF board members, the Executive Director, and staff participated in radio talkshows broadcast on two stations drawing attention to the challenges facing girl child education in Uganda. A study by the Forum for African Women’s Educationalists conducted at PGSS and in the community highlighted the successes of the school and ongoing challenges facing the education of vulnerable girls and child mothers. A documentary produced by the Refugee Law Project followed the lives of a few students at PGSS and their journey from “the bush” to books.
In partnership with local churches, PGSS hosted a Christian Youth Conference from April 19-22, encouraging youth from Pader and Agago to commit their lives to the values and principles of Christianity, encouraging service, faith, love and community. Spirited dance, praise, and lessons engaged the conference’s participants and readied them for the coming school holiday.
In all, the anniversary celebration was a great success, bringing together members of the community and beneficiaries who have been touched by CCF’s work over the past 10 years.
For many of the 20 students selected to represent PGSS at
the Sarah Ntiro Award Ceremony March 29, 2011, the trip to Kampala was their
first outside of Northern Uganda.
As part of a capital city tour, PGSS and CCF staff took the
students to many of the major tourist sites in Kampala, including the shopping
malls at Oasis and Garden City, the Parliamentary building and National
Theater, and Lake Victoria. Among many “firsts,” the girls rode an escalator
for the first time, walked down the aisles of their first supermarket, enjoyed
their first boat ride within a fishing boat on Lake Victoria, and dipped their
hands in a swimming pool.
The girls were graciously hosted by the Women MP of Agago
District, Franca Akello, who opened her home to accommodate the students for
the two day visit.
Many thanks are due to the Forum of African Women
Educationalists Uganda and the Honorable Franca Akello for making the memorable
The Forum of Women African Educationalists-Uganda (FAWEU)
presented their prestigious Sarah Ntiro Model of Excellence Award on Thursday,
March 29, 2012 to CCF Pader’s Director, Alice Achan.The award, which is given to
honor women achievers who have overcome obstacles, achieved personal
excellence, and become an inspiration to women and girls, is named after the
first woman university graduate in East or Central Africa, Dr. Sarah Ntiro. Dr. Ntiro spoke briefly at the event and
warmly greeted the recipients of the award which bears her name and celebrates trailblazing
women who value and encourage education.
Alice was joined for the celebration at the Nabisunsa Girls
Secondary School in Kampala by a proud delegation of students from the Pader
Girls Secondary School (PGSS) who sang and danced for the celebration’s guests.
The students of PGSS had the honor of welcoming the Chief Guest, the United
States Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier with a traditional bwola dance which set the celebratory
tone for the event. Other notable guests
included the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at Makerere University,
Lillian Ekirikubinza, the Executive Director of FAWEU, Martha Muhwezi, the
Chair of the Board of FAWEU, Rose Izizinga, Pronch Murray of Irish Aid, and a
representative from the Ministry of Sports and Education.
The event drew students from several regional primary and
secondary schools and universities. The youth in attendance were encouraged by guest
speakers who shared their own inspiring journeys of struggle and accomplishment
in academic and personal achievement.
Lillian Ekirikubiza, the first Professor of
Law in East Africa, encouraged girls to reach beyond gender discrimination and
the common idea that a woman is most useful for her sexual capabilities. “You
know your value to the world and I know your value to Uganda,” she told the girls,
“Those of us who have been there [struggling to obtain an education] will
encourage you to exploit your full potential.”
The students of PGSS in attendance were fast to make friends
with other students who had traveled from throughout Uganda to attend the
event. Many spent lunchtime mingling with the impressive young women who had
shared their testimonies of struggling to achieve academic excellence despite
“Being here made me want to study so hard,” shared one
student of PGSS. “There was a girl who shared about coming from a poor family
and becoming a doctor and I realized that I too could be like her.”
Alice joins an elite group of women who have been honored by
the Sarah Ntiro Model of Excellence Award over the past 12 years representing
prominent women torchbearers in various fields.
The sound of drumming
gourds, dancing footsteps, and lively Acholi singing marked the beginning of
the celebration of the commissioning of the Pader Girls Secondary School (PGSS)
Guesthouse on March 27, 2012, an event which brought together 300 local
leaders, international supporters, and community members for joyous recognition
of the training center’s opening.
The ceremony marked the culmination of five years of
imagination and collaboration between CCF Pader and its partners. Funding for
the guesthouse was provided by C3 Church Everywoman Sydney, an Australia-based
Christian organization that worked in partnership with the Global Development
Group and CCF Pader to construct the buildings.
Representatives from C3 Sydney at the event included Pastor
Chris Pringle who first met CCF’s Executive Director Alice Achan in 2006 and
played a key role in birthing the idea for the guesthouse. During a speech
given at the ceremony, Pastor Chris described the guesthouse as “a dream that
began in the heart,” a building “that would be a training center for positions
of hospitality and a beautiful place for local and visiting guests.”
The event drew several honored guests, including the Woman
MP for Pader District, the Honorable Cath
erine Doreen Lowila, the Resident
District Commissioner, Lumwaka Caroline, the Chairman of the Board of CCF,
Bishop Ochola of Kitgum, representatives of CCF donors from C3 Sydney and the Uganda
Fund, and several church and community leaders.
Alice Achan expressed the deep gratitude of CCF staff and PGSS
students for the efforts of the Australian donors that made the construction of
the guesthouse possible, and appealed to government representatives in the
audience to continue supporting girls’ education and the Pader Girls School.
Chief Guest Honorable
MP Lowila agreed to advocate for PGSS at the national level and praised the school’s
impressive accomplishments. “[PGSS] is the best school in the District, the
most unique school in the country, and we’ll work hard towards making it the
best school in the country,” she said to cheers from the school’s staff and
After several hours of speeches, singing, dancing, praying,
and praising, the event moved outside of the guesthouse’s main conference hall
for a tree planting, ribbon cutting, and cake cutting ceremony. Guests enjoyed
a delicious meal prepared by the catering students of PGSS who showcased the
skills they have developed at the school through a beautifully decorated cake
and elaborate spread of food made from the best local ingredients.
Philippa Tyndale, a member of the C3 Church and a longtime
supporter of CCF Pader summarized the overarching goal of the guesthouse’s
donors, telling the students in attendance that “our dream for you is to have
great, fulfilling lives, to see possibilities, and to achieve your dreams out
of your own talent and God’s hand.”
The guesthouse aims to be a space for students to do just
that: to cultivate skills in hospitality in a loving environment so that they
may lead successful, meaningful lives.
Each year on March 8th, countries around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, a holiday dedicated to
recognizing the important contributions of women in society and the issues they face.
This year, CCF Director Alice Achan and former Head Girl of the Pader Girls Academy Polline traveled to Kampala for the International Women’s Day Festival hosted by the Sheraton in partnership with the Alliance Française Kampala. Out of all of the charities in the Uganda focused on addressing the needs of women and girls, the Pader Girls Academy (PGA) was selected as the sole beneficiary of funds raised during the day’s events.
The decision to honor PGA is testament to the growing recognition of the crisis of girl child education in Uganda and the necessity for innovative solutions to address the special needs of vulnerable girls.
During a forum and debate at the event, Alice Achan shared her own story which served as partial motivation for the founding of PGA. “During the war, I spent four years living in the camps, and as a result, was forced to delay my own education by 4 years. War should not be a reason for girls to miss out on education. At PGA, I wanted to create an environment where girls most affected by the war could continue their educations regardless of age, social status, or pregnancy.”
Alice was accompanied by Polline, a recent graduate from PGA’s Secondary School who is now pursuing her Advanced-level studies in Kampala.
Polline’s remarkable story shows just how education can change a girl’s life. At eleven years old, Pauline was abducted from her home by the LRA. For eight years, she lived in captivity as the wife of a commander until severe complications from pregnancy nearly cost Pauline her life.
After recovering from emergency operations, Polline was too old to return to mainstream secondary school. At 19, she entered PGA, enrolling in senior level-2 and making a promise to prioritize her education. She studied hard and excelled academically, becoming one of the five top performing girls at the Academy who received scholarships for further study.
“Now, I am in Kampala for Advanced-level and I am determined to let nothing stop me from my goals. If a man says he loves me, I will tell him to wait until I graduate,” Polline told a cheering crowd.
Beneath a banner with the day’s theme, “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures,” Polline shared her dream of becoming a human rights lawyer, a career she hopes will enable her to advocate for other vulnerable girls.
Polline has used her success to become a champion for girl’s education, sharing her experience everywhere from Kampala to the House of Lords in London. “A girl should not lose hope because she becomes pregnant,” she told the crowd, “Even pregnant girls can study and have a future.”