Ronald: A Beacon of Hope for Uganda
Written by Randy Roberts, longtime CROSO supporter who traveled to Uganda last month on a CROSO trip
Washi Ronald’s enthusiasm is contagious from the moment you meet him. And thanks to his CROSO scholarship, I believe he will be a very successful lawyer and force for change in Ugandan society in the future. CROSO’s Executive Director Molly McCready and I were able to visit him at Islamic University in Uganda (Kampala campus) during our recent trip to Uganda.
Even driving to Ronald’s university where he is studying for his bachelor’s degree in law exemplified the challenges facing him and his country. The extreme poverty of the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the university is shocking, especially when it stands in stark contrast to modern 5 story buildings which house the various undergraduate programs. As we drove up the rutted, dirt road to the university, the homes were made of makeshift materials with no running water or interior bathrooms. People were cooking food over simple charcoal fires.
Ronald met us at the security gate and proudly showed us his school. As I am an attorney, we quickly bonded and had a lively discussion about his legal curriculum and university life. I was struck by his self-confidence and desire to succeed. When I asked about his future goals, Ronald immediately responded that he wanted to be a judge. Ronald appears to be a natural leader. Even though he is only in his first year at this university, he’s already running for office in the student government (called the guild) and set his sights on one of the top positions- chief justice!
The most compelling part of our visit is when Ronald described to me why he decided he wanted to be a lawyer. He explained that his father was accused of wrong-doing by a police officer in his hometown. According to Ronald, the police officer, because of his position with the government, and the corruption within the court system, was able to manipulate the court proceedings and his father was convicted and sentenced to prison. Ronald told me that his father was too poor to afford an attorney and was not provided one for his trial. He said that his father is still in prison. You could see the passion and determination in Ronald’s eyes as he told me about his father.
Washi Ronald is a survivor of the streets and he is driven. Unlike law students in the US, he is required to wear a suit and tie to class every day, six days a week. And for a person of modest means, this type of discipline requires a sacrifice of both time and money. Ronald is more than up to face these challenges. It is clear that he wants Uganda to have a legal system that will provide justice and not allow unfair treatment like his father received. You cannot be around Ronald without feeling his happiness and gratitude for the legal education he is receiving. He clearly knows how fortunate he is to have this opportunity to become a lawyer.
Ronald is so conscientious and appreciative that I don’t think he will ever forget what he has been given (and will give back 10 fold). But if he ever did forget, he will be immediately reminded the moment he steps out of the security gate of Islamic University.
To learn more about Ronald or any of CROSO's other scholars, please visit: www.CROSO.org/scholars