After the struggle, there is a crown. A story of a RUFORUM Intern

My name is Evaline Acan and I hail from a small district called Oyam in northern Uganda. During my early childhood, Lived in Kampala Uganda’s capital city with my father. However, at the age of 12, my father lost his job and as a result, I was sent to Oyam.

Evaline Acan

While in Oyam, I joined Survivors’ Infant primary school until I completed my primary leaving examination (PLE). An examination that determines one’s entry into secondary school in Uganda. While Survivors’ Infant primary school, I admired our school bursar and thought to be an account. 

In 2009, I was very excited to join senior one  at St. Mary Magdalene Girl’s school, but my father who was the bread winner had lost his job and therefore did not have the money to pay my school fees. That got me worried and uncertain about the continuity of my education.

Miraculously, my paternal uncle who heard about my fate offered to pay school fees. I went to school but it was not a smooth path. I always reported late to school, missed a lot of lessons and I sometimes evened miss exams. In order to catch up with other students, I borrowed books from my friends at the end of every school term so that I could copy the notes that I missed.

During the school holidays, my parents always went to the farm and left me at home to do domestic chores. In order to create time for reading, I would wake up early in the morning and do house chores quickly and then gather whatever I needed in the kitchen to prevent unnecessary movement and distraction while I cooked because only then, was I able  to read when the environment was cool and free from noise. It was also the most appropriate time because most people were at their farms.  

Soon, it became routine for me to read in the morning while cooking and copy notes in evening before night fall since our only source of light were candles which were sparingly used for only lighting.  

When I got to S4, everything changed in my favour when my uncle who was now my school fees sponsor paid my fees for an entire year as opposed to the termly arrangement that I had been accustomed to.  I was used to being sent to collect my fees balance. There was no more missing of lessons and exams. I completed my Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examination successfully and emerged that best in my school, as the only student with a first grade.

My parents were pleased and encouraged my uncle to sponsor me for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) at St. Lawrence citizen high school Crown City. Upon completion of UACE, one is expected to join the University. While at St. Lawrence, I took up a combination of Physics, Economics and Mathematics PEM (Sub computer).  Everything went on well, my school fees were fully paid and I was living with my uncle in Kampala where I had enough time and resources to read and study.

Upon completion of UACE exams were over, preparations had to be made for me to join a higher institution of learning, either a University or a Vocational Institution (TVET) However, there was a big challenge. My uncle who had been sponsoring me lost his job because the company that he worked for ran bankrupt and could not sustain all their workers.  As a result, they decided to lay off some employees, of which my uncle was among them. At this point I could not see any possibility of joining a university and my dream of becoming an accountant was shattered. All hope was lost and all in my mind was marriage but when I thought of lives of the married people in my village, how the women suffered farming and providing for their families without the support of their husbands I became discouraged because farm work was not something that I liked doing.

Confusion was all around me then I had to try prayers and fasting over the situation. Months passed without any change and the worry was becoming too much, So my parents decided that I should apply for a course at the university which I did and I was admitted for Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) at Gulu university but there was no money to pay tuition.

Three weeks after the reporting date, my sponsor called me and told me to prepare and go the school and that he got a contract with the United Nations, therefore paying tuition would not be a problem but the requirements and hostel fee was to be provided by my parents. Finally I was able to go to school again.

In the beginning, I never liked the course because I wanted to become an accountant. As a result, I used to attend both computer science and Business administration classes for about one month. One day, I attended a physical computing seminar for computer science and Information Technology (IT) students. In that seminar, the facilitators discussed about the need for IT in the society and I liked the way they played around with codes to make robots perform certain actions and move in different direction. My interest in doing Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) became stronger and soon I forgot about accounting.

Upon completion of my Bachelor degree in 2019, I had the interest of enrolling for a Masters program in Information Technology. I applied for many scholarships but did not succeed in getting any so I decided to volunteer with two organizations to keep myself busy as I continued looking for scholarships and a paying job.

In May 2020, I came across the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) internship job advert over the internet and applied for it. Lucky enough, I was called for an interview and two weeks after the interview, the RUFORUM human resource manager called and told me that I got the job and I was to start work o the 1/Sept/2020.

My first day in office, I met the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM who told me to invest in my future. I never took it serious but every time I would meet him, he would repeat the same thing. One day, He wrote an email requesting me to apply for a master in information technology and the organization offered me a scholarship. I was very excited when I heard about the offer. I applied for masters of information technology at Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) and am now pursuing my studies.  Iam grateful to the RUFORUM Executive Secretary Prof. Adipala and RUFORUM secretariat at large for the scholarship and for making my dreams come to a reality.  

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