I come from a very under privileged community in Norther Uganda that was affected by a civil war for over 20 years in the mid-80s to mid-2000s. I lost two years of my primary education and most of my friends didn’t make it back to school as others especially the girls got married early while others were abducted and conscripted into the rebel ranks. I completed primary education at the peak of the war while commuting daily in the evenings to the town center to seek refuge (commonly known as Night Commuters) and managed to be among the top two students in Kitgum district. I was awarded a scholarship for the ordinary level education. This was the turning point in my life! I knew then the value of education and excelling in whatever I do. I emerged the best in Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) in Gulu District. With the support of my uncle along the way, I got government scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Forestry at Makerere University that I completed among the top in the class with a Second Class (Hons.) Upper Division.
As the first in many things in my community, I had always wanted to peruse a PhD program to raise the bar higher. I then enrolled for Masters in Agribusiness Management in 2012, after trying the previous year but failed to start due to financial constraints. As I was sponsoring myself as well as supporting many others to see the light in education (just like I was supported), it was difficult to continue with the program. The little I was earning was not sufficient to complete my tuition nor be able to start on data collection and complete the research. I therefore dropped off in 2014 after completing the course work and defending the proposal.
It was then until 2018, when A Good Samaritan in the names of Dr. Akello Sarah Esimu showed up when I had lost hope. She provided the research funding through Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) under her Post-doctoral Research Program from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Despite the challenges with COVID-19, I was able to collect data, complete my dissertation and graduated on 14th Feb 2023. Thanks to RUFORUM! My research topic was to evaluate The Structure, Conduct and Performance of Briquettes Markets in Greater Kampala. I am working on publishing two papers from this study.
I am very indebted to RUFORUM for the tremendous support without which I would not have completed my Master’s program. I am very grateful to my Supervisors, Dr. Peter N. Walekwah – RIP (unfortunately we lost him in the second lockdown) and Associate. Prof. Justine N Namaalwa for the patience and support. After dropping off for a long time, it was a very hard start to get the research back on track. I also appreciate the Mentorship from Prof. N. Majaliwa and Prof. Jacob G. Agea.
Finally, my sincere thanks to Dr. Sarah Akello Esimu for fishing me out of the many, the encouragement and support throughout this journey. To the great RUFORUM team, I will always be an ambassador as one of the alumni for the life changing opportunity that made me to continue dreaming to achieve even more after completing my Master in Agribusiness Management.
BY: NOKRACH CHURCHILL
COURSE: MASTER OF AGRIBUSINESS MANAGEMENT
DATE: APRIL 2023
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