Meet Sarah, a Beautiful World scholar and current law student at Uganda Christian University. As a future human rights lawyer, Sarah is one of Beautiful World’s most accomplished students but like many women in Uganda, her past is one filled with suffering and tragedy.
Sarah grew up in Uganda with her parents and three siblings, but when she was eight years old her mother passed away, followed just two years later by her father. Sarah continued with life the best she could but always wondered what had caused her parents’ early deaths. It was not until much later that she learned her father had died from complications relating to the AIDS virus. Being a child of an AIDS victim, Sarah feared for her own life, and soon decided to get tested. Luckily, Sarah’s test results were negative but as a recent orphan, her life was still filled with fear and turmoil.
Sarah went to live with her grandfather who despite his love and care had no formal education himself. Still, the family strived to generate enough funds for her to complete primary and secondary education; eventually raising enough money to send her to school up until Senior 4.
While Sarah was incredibly grateful to her family for their sacrifices, the summer of Senior 4 was coming to an end. With funds running short, Sarah saw no possibility of joining the A-level classes in the fall—without which she would be unable to apply to university. She was left in a state of hopelessness at the knowledge her education would soon be cut short.
It was then that Sarah first came in contact with Beautiful World’s partner, the Nyaka Aids Orphans Project. She was selected for a scholarship to take her through her final year of secondary school allowing her to complete her A-levels. Shortly after, two generous donors from Toronto stepped in and sponsored Sarah to continue her studies at Uganda Christian University; Sarah would soon become the first in her family to attend higher education.
Sarah is currently focused on studying human rights law and hopes to aid those in her community after graduating. After seeing victims of domestic violence suffer, Sarah was inspired to devote herself to becoming “a voice to the voiceless”. Due to the ramped poverty in Uganda, victims of domestic violence are often unable to pay for a lawyer thereby hindering them from gaining legal action against their perpetrator. Sarah remarks that after she graduates, she will donate her legal services to impoverished victims of domestic violence—so as to ensure justice is always granted, regardless of one’s socioeconomic status.
Sarah has a number of role models and mentors that keep her focused on her goals. She references Justice Julia Sebutinde as being her inspiration to study law. Justice Sebutinde is a Ugandan judge who currently sits on the International Court of Justice. As the first African woman to do so, Sarah is inspired to see what Ugandan women are capable of achieving when given access to education.
Sarah also mentions Madame Jennifer, the country director of the Nyaka Aids Organization, as her personal mentor and motivator. Jennifer began her studies similar to Sarah, with little financial support and burdened by poverty.“Her only goal, her focus point was to excel in her studies…Whenever I reflect on the story she told us, and I compare it with my story, with my life, I get inspired and motivated that one day I will also [succeed] despite what I’m going through in life, despite the challenges that I am meeting in life…I will also be someone”.