Today’s post comes from one of CROSO’s Board of Directors, Margy Roberts. She shares how she initially became involved in CROSO and why she passionately supports this organization with her time, talent and resources.
Understanding the Power of Education
By Margy Roberts
I was fortunate to know of Molly’s 2006 work with Child Restoration Outreach in Uganda. I heard her speak about her dream of providing post-secondary education opportunities to students from CRO. After the founding of CROSO in 2007, my initial involvement was simply attending the annual fundraisers. It was exciting to see the numbers of students receiving scholarships increase each year, and to hear their stories. Each student has his or her own story of sadness and hardship; yet, they have amazing courage and resilience. They each accepted the assistance offered by CRO, to leave the streets, and work hard to do well at school. They subsequently applied and were accepted into college or university programs in Uganda. CROSO scholars also demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities, spending many hours in programs with the children at CRO. A unique feature of CROSO is having the continued relationship with CRO, where the CROSO scholars return during school breaks, to work with and mentor the younger students. This feels like a great way to promote optimism for a better future.
My husband and I continued to be inspired by these stories, and, once our own children were through college, and financially independent, we decided to commit to sponsoring one of the CROSO scholars. The cost of post secondary education in Uganda is relatively low in comparison to the United States. For this relatively small investment, the results are so remarkable. Here is a former street child, who is now going to college! As one of the CROSO scholars stated at the end of his monthly letter to me, “ I now see myself becoming the kind of person I dreamt of, because I know I have a bright future.”
In addition to simply being moved by the students’ stories, and knowing we have the ability to help them, we also have a strong conviction that education is the answer for the most pressing issues of our time. We read almost daily about acts of terrorism, and the extremist views that feed them. Isolation and lack of education feed this extremism. The gap between extreme wealth and extreme poverty can also be addressed by education. Author and columnist, Nicholas Kristof, writes, “Education is the elevator that can change the world.”
Since joining the CROSO board two years ago, I have been corresponding with two CROSO scholars, and, have served on the scholarship committee. Both of these experiences have motivated me to work harder for scholarship funding. It is difficult to choose a limited number out of the many qualified applicants. In addition, writing to the students, and hearing back about their experiences, has helped me to connect to another culture and part of the world. One of the students, Ariong Gabriel, referred to me as his “tribe-mate”, since we have both studied in the medical field. While my daughter was taking similar courses last year, we found that she shared many of the same experiences that Gabriel described about his classes. Many of our students have taken on extra-curricular leadership roles at their schools; Gabriel was elected Games and Recreation minister this school year. They invariably end every correspondence with expressions of gratitude for the support they are receiving.