Gender inequities also make fertility reduction difficult; women on average are less-educated, participate less in paid employment, and often have little say in decisions over childbearing and their own reproductive health." - CIA World Factbook.
Peace (age 20) and Mary (age 24) have a dream to earn their university degrees. They are among the 78% of the Ugandan population below the age of 30. With just under eight million youth aged 15-30, the country also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Starting in the late 1980's, and spanning 20 years, Northern Uganda was terrorized by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Both Peace and Mary grew up in a village near Gulu. They spent their childhoods in fear of abduction by the LRA; while they "lived" in a village and attended school there, they traveled each evening to Gulu Town to sleep in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps where they were more safe. Each morning, they would make the long walk back to their village for school.
Peace is the second of seven children; her parents are subsistence farmers. Her father was taken by the LRA for a period of time, and eventually escaped and reunited with his family.
In Peace's words: "I want to study to be able to support my younger sisters and brothers. I want to train some farmers so that they are engaging in business and making money off of their crops. I also want to support orphans in the villages and help them. I want to do training with girls because in our district many people believe that girls should not be given an education, they are deceived by boys and become pregnant."
Mary is the youngest of four children. She was raised by a single mother who brewed fermented cassava and sorghum alcohol, and sold it to make a living. Mary is now married and has the most adorable baby in Uganda: baby Sophie.
In Mary's words: "I want to study horticulture and agribusiness. I want to help other people with farming practices to increase their yield and be more sustainable. I want other families to able to support themselves and have a better future." Mary wants to show her daughter that she can do anything!
These women have what it takes to graduate with their degrees; they are driven, ambitious, honest, and reliable. When they drew up the budget they made sure to leave 15% for them to pay themselves because, as Mary said, "we don't want to be spoon-fed." The cost of a university degree is far beyond their means in the 25th poorest country in the world, where the average person lives on about $2,000 per year. While there are millions of people who need help, these are two women you could support and see a real difference in their lives, and in the lives of the people they help.
"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
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