“A decade of war can wipe out an entire generation of Socially and Economically able citizens.,”Anonymous. This quote is almost true for Northern Uganda that was torn apart by the LRA insurgency. Even 14 years after it ended, the effects of the war remain with the millions that were internally displaced and only returned to re-start their lives in a near impossible situation. In such instances, Education seems like the only solution after all knowledge is as empowering as it is enriching.
This is the case for Okot David Pokono, a beneficiary of the Postgraduate programme implemented by Windle Trust UK and Windle International Uganda in 2011. Started in 2009 targeting the Northern/Eastern/Karamoja regions of Uganda that were affected by the LRA insurgency and refugees, the Programme has supported over 100 Students to pursue Masters’ degree programmesin the UK.
Before he was awarded the scholarship to go and pursue a Master of Science in Wireless Networking at Glasglow Caledonian University, UK, David was working as a temporary staff member at Gulu university earning less than $100. This changed immediately upon his return from the UK, he was immediately reassigned to the department of IT as the Technology Planning Office/Caretaker Director, ICT at Gulu University given his new Educational achievement, and this
was just the beginning for him. Shortly after this, he was recognized and nominated by the Ministry of Education and Sports to be a member of the National Contract Management team in ICT withthe African Development Bank’s Higher Education Science and Technology Project. In this capacity, he was the lead technical officer in requirement specification of ICT equipment at Gulu University for the Project.
Whilst he acknowledges that the Scholarship propelled his career, it is his new found ability to impact his community that stands out for him. Since he returned, he spends some of his time working with youth in Gulu to improve their livelihoods. This he has done by supporting them to start a Savings scheme of over 200 members through which they are able to access loans at lower rates for investment. He has also distributed at least 500 tree seedlings to each of the members enough to plant on an acre for future purposes as these trees could earn them a minimum of 90million Uganda shillings in 15 years.
David hopes that additional scholarships can be availed for more youth from his region as in his words, “Those of us who benefitted now the value.”