Ugandan varsity gives scholarships to survivors

Kampala-based St. Lawrence University has promised further support to Genocide survivors in the form of scholarships. 

Kampala-based St. Lawrence University has promised further support to Genocide survivors in the form of scholarships. 

Prof. Lawrence Mukiibi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of St. Lawrence University, made the pledge on Wednesday during a visit to Nyamata Genocide Memorial Centre with a delegation of 67 students and staff from the university.

They are in the country for four days, to join Rwandans in remembering one million people massacred during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The delegation includes 20 Genocide survivors who were granted scholarship at the university two years ago.

Mukiibi said he was prompted to offer scholarships after he learnt that Genocide survivors were faced with a challenge of education.

“I have decided to take ten students every year. We have 30 students so far, and we plan to take another 30 next year,” Mukiibi said.

“We are trying to cultivate the spirit of humanity among these children which they did not find in the killers of their beloved families,” he added.

The scholarships are in the form of tuition of around sh2m, (about Rwf 535,000) per year.

The Government of Rwanda then gives each student $450 (Rwf303,000), in living allowance per month.

Louise Karamage, the Deputy Director General in charge of higher education loans at Rwanda Education Board (Reb), says the amount varies depending on the cost of living.

The official commended the University for supporting the country’s education through scholarships.

“It is an act of kindness which others can emulate,” Karamage said.

Nyamata memorial centre, hosts the remains of about 11,000 Tutsi victims who had taken refuge at Nyamata Catholic Church, and nearby buildings.

They were murdered with  machetes and other traditional weapons as well as grenades and bullets by the Interahamwe militias and government soldiers, who had experimented the genocide in the same area two years earlier.

Visiting students were perplexed by the cruelty of the killers.  

The story of one Anonciata Mukandoli who died after a stick was shoved into her private parts through to the head, having already suffered gang rape, was particularly heartbreaking.

“Lord! Let those who lost their loved ones feel comforted by you. Let them feel that forgiveness is their best way to heal their wounds. Lord, protect us, so that this never happens again,” prayed Agin Jurkau Machar, St. Lawrence University Miss 2013-2014, a South Sudan national.

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