On a pleasant, sunny fall day in northern Uganda, we drove to Sardis Primary School to meet one of Food for the Hungry’s former sponsored children. This young man graduated from Food for the Hungry’s Child Sponsorship Program and is now a teacher. The school property where he teaches consisted of many brick buildings with open-air windows spread out from each other with large trees offering shade to the buildings and property.
Quietly we entered one of those buildings and ducked to the back of the classroom. Children dressed in green uniforms sat fully attentive, eyes glued to the man in the front of the room, their math teacher Ogwak Denish. Ogwak moved back and forth from his students to a large chalkboard with colorful writing running the full length. Ogwak led the children through many practical math problems encountered while shopping for supplies, calling out questions to his class and the class eagerly calling out answers. Ogwak’s passion for teaching clearly shined through, and his students appeared to hang on his every word. Though Ogwak looked like he was born to instill passion in his students, he did not have an easy road to get to this point.
A Familiar Story in Uganda
During recess break, we had a few minutes to sit and talk with Ogwak.
Ogwak is one of five children orphaned at a very young age. His older brother, who was still young himself, took on the head-of-household responsibility, but it was difficult for him to handle his four younger siblings. They had no other family to rely on, so they were essentially one of Uganda’s hundreds of child-headed households. This was an uncertain and difficult time for Ogwak and his siblings. Even children with one or both parents living often cannot afford the fees to attend school, but with no living parents, it was next to impossible.
“We also wanted to study but there was nothing, nobody could help us,” Ogwak told us.
Child Sponsorship Renews Lives
In 2006 Food for the Hungry came to Ogwak’s village and enrolled Ogwak and his siblings in the Child Sponsorship Program. The children received school fees, uniforms and other supplies. Ogwak thrived in school. Upon graduation, he enrolled in the Primary Teacher’s College in 2012 and finished in 2013. Having lived through the death of his parents and the helplessness following, Ogwak knew he wanted to give back to his community to help be a part of the solution. When he looks back on life before Food for the Hungry, he says he could never imagine this life for himself.
“There is nothing I can say but giving thanks to those who helped me and helped me achieve this. My prayer is that may God bless them for the good work they have done.”
Ogwak has been teaching for two years and plans to further his education in the future to continue to give back to his community. Despite all his achievements, Ogwak remains humble and grateful to Food for the Hungry.
“They have done a wonderful thing to help me in sponsoring me to make me become a teacher. It is a good thing they have done.”