For 25 years war reigned through Uganda but the most devastating has been the armed conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. During the last two decades there was a complete breakdown in public and social services, such as education, health, agriculture, security, transport, and communication.
The LRA rebels destroyed villages, families, and turned innocent children as young as six years old into child soldiers. As a result of these disasters, Nebbi Standard Academy (NEBSTA) in North Western Uganda was founded in 2002 by Hon. Dr. Betty Udongo, who was also a victim of war.
Hon. Dr Betty founded this school when she realized that education is the single most important factor for post conflict recovery and reconstruction because it provides knowledge and skills for dealing with adversities. Education has a critical role to play in efforts to restore peace in conflict situations because it is a continuous creative process that can develop the capacities latent in human nature for the enrichment and progress of society. Therefore, access to quality education at all levels is the key to moving forward from the war.
NEBSTA is a private secondary school and seeks to provide a second chance to children in lower income families (orphaned by war and HIV/AIDs) and those who dropped-out of school throughout the region. The school, however, manages through difficult situations: there is no electricity or running water, no textbooks or laboratory equipment, and teachers struggle to teach classes due to the lack of funds.
In considering ways to strengthen the school, she decided to create a new organization NEBSTAR that would bridge the connections between at-risk youth and an impoverished community in rural Uganda with lower income communities in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With parallel programs happening simultaneously in Nebbi and Kalamazoo, the different communities will be connected by their similarities rather than their differences. In this way, Dr. Betty Udongo believes that meaningful relationships and a stronger sense of understanding will generate connections between the youth and community in Kalamazoo and that of Nebbi, Uganda so that youth and their communities may become shining stars.