Writer recounts tale of Ugandan student studying in America
Ugandan student Everce Nyamahunge shows off her painting of Texas bluebonnets. — Submitted photo
Cottey College environmental science student benefits from generosity of many
By Sherryl Brown— In August, 2013, a talented student, Everce Nyamahunge, came to the U.S. for the first time. Hailing from Hoima, Uganda, Nyamahunge studies Environmental Science at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, under the sponsorship of a philanthropic educational organization (P.E.O.), St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, a private educational foundation, and many generous individuals.
I learned through discussions with Nyamahunge that in leaving home, she gave up everything that was familiar and close to her heart in the hope that she would discover a clear direction for her future through study in the U.S.
Now a year later, she is spending her summer here in Fredericksburg interning with John Watson at Fredericksburg Shines so that she can get first-hand experience with recycling, solar energy, waste management and other ecological initiatives.
In the two months residing with Robert and Nan Mosley of Fredericksburg, she has won the hearts of many locals by involving herself in projects and activities, be it singing at Hondo’s with a gospel group, helping to re-form a drumming circle, being a “cow lady” at the Stonewall Peach JAMboree and Rodeo or teaching Vacation Bible School at St. Barnabas.
At age 20, she is learning how to drive a car, how to approach a painting with brush in hand under the tutelage of local artist Marianna Lively, and how to appreciate American culture.
Nyamahunge has thrived in this environment, and many people in our community want to make sure that she has every opportunity to complete her college education here in the U.S.
Nyamahunge was born into a tight-knit family in the village of Kivaale, Uganda. Her mother, a single parent rearing four children, worked as a cook for many years to send Everce and her siblings to school. Later when Everce was older, the family was able to build a house.
By the time she graduated from private school, she had done well enough in her studies to be recognized, earning a scholarship from the Ugandan government to attend college in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
In June, 2012, when Nan Mosley was doing missionary work in Uganda, she met Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa and was invited to his home for brunch. They had a wonderful discussion about topics having to do with opportunity and change in Uganda. Seven months later, Kymanywa was brought to the U.S. by the Diocese of West Texas and invited for lunch with the Mosleys.
Nan Mosley mentioned Cottey College and told the bishop about her organization, P.E.O., which provides scholarships in the U.S. for women in need worldwide. She asked him to look for a capable student who could be away from home for two years, and the possibility of a scholarship.
Five months later, Nyamahunge’s uncle went to his niece’s home and asked if she would like to study in abroad. Her immediate response was “Yes!” Followed by, “When?”
Originally, the adults involved thought that August, 2014, would be enough time for the necessary paperwork, vaccinations, and application for admission to Cottey College.
Nyamahunge’s response was, “Why not this year? August, 2013?”
Though it was late June, the Dean of Admissions at Cottey College responded to the initial inquiry stating that her academic qualifications were good, and she could be admitted within two months if the community could provide $12,000 for her freshman year.
Mosley then spearheaded a fundraising effort in Fredericksburg, and many people wrote checks in July to raise $12,000, plus airfare.
Meanwhile, Nyamahunge traveled to the American Embassy in Kampala to apply for a passport. She began the waiting process to secure a visa interview, living with her cousin’s family while she waited. Arrangements were quickly arranged for her flight to the U.S. Alone and as a first time flyer, she flew from Uganda via Narobi, to Amsterdam, to Minneapolis, and to Kansas City, arriving in a state of exhaustion.
Nyamahunge had never met Nan Mosley until she stepped off the plane in Kansas City. Shiela DuBois, a P.E.O. member, and Nan had flown to Kansas City to meet Nyamahunge at the airport and take her to Cottey College, one day before classes were to start.
Mosley said it took a team to realize this goal: clergy, missionaries, family members, philanthropists, educators and government officials, to name a few.
For a young woman in Uganda to have any kind of future, she must have an education. P.E.O.’s agreement with Cottey College is that her sponsors, and the community at large, will provide half her tuition and the college will match, so she can continue with her sophomore year in the fall.
In August, P.E.O. is determined to raise $6,000 to pay for its part of her tuition and the $1,500 for books for the 2014-15 school year. (With $6,000 already raised, the total $12,000 will fulfill the annual commitment to Cottey College).
Our community was treated to an incredibly excellent production of Les Misérables this summer, one of its themes being “to love another person is to see the face of God.”
Love empowering another through education, giving wing to another is part of the journey. If investing in this young woman’s future is something readers would like to do, write a check to “Cottey College” and mail it to 801 Triple Creek, Fredericksburg, TX 78624.
Many will be grateful for your support however large or small, and none more so than Everece Nyamahunge.