Student Profile: Three days away from dropping out… then, God stepped in
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2019/01/student-profile-three-days-away-from-dropping-out-then-god-stepped-in/
(NOTE: In September 2018, Uganda Christian University launched a School of Medicine with 60 students. To “put a face” on Uganda’s future doctors and dentists, some of these students, including this one, were interviewed at the completion of the first semester.)
By Alex Taremwa
When he applied (one day before the deadline) to be enrolled in dentistry as part of the pioneer Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Medicine, Richard Ogwal, who turns 36 in February, did not know where the $1,900 (Shs7million) for tuition was going to come from.
He arrived from his rural district of Agago in Northern Uganda with just $270 (Shs1million) that was not even enough to cover his hostel fees. The father of two and the firstborn of an extended family of 17 children from four wives said that he counted on the Government Loans’ Scheme and the State House Scholarship to meet his tuition.
However, his bubble burst midway through the first semester when the list of successful candidates for the Government Loans’ Scheme was pinned on the notice board. Ogwal’s name was not in it.
When he inquired from the Medical School Head, Dr. Ned Kanyesigye, about the absence of his name, Ogwal was told that the government could not include UCU Medical School courses among those covered by the Scheme for 2018 because the School started in mid-year – not the full year. Around the same time, Ogwal received a warning letter that he would be thrown out of the hostel if he did not register fully. A few days later, another letter arrived – this time from the Academics Office warning him that he would not be allowed to take the forthcoming examinations if he wasn’t fully paid up.
“I almost ran mad,” Ogwal said. “Not only was I stuck, but I also was very frustrated. I kept calling Dr. Ned, David Mugawe (the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development and External Relations) and literally everyone who cared to listen about my problems. They said they would pray for me.”
A strong and prayerful Christian, Ogwal turned to God. At the same time, he phoned his parents back home and instructed them to sell off a piece of land he had acquired. But the plan hit a snag when the buyer pulled out at the last minute.
Ogwal’s hopes diminished.
With family members, he engaged in a three-day fast that lengthened to five days.
“Things were tough,” Ogwal, now a hostel captain, said. “The siblings that I pay for needed money, my family needed money, I needed money, and I was running out of time. My friends up to now tell me that I am the most courageous person because I remained firm.”
Two days after the family’s five-day fast, Ogwal got a breakthrough. He received a phone call inviting him to Uganda’s Parliament to sign off on the State House Scholarship. He recalled that day:
“This time, I actually ran mad! I could not believe it. I ran out of the gate and took a boda-boda (motorcycle) to Parliament, handed in my passport photo and academic papers and the money –and all the Shs7 million was processed to the university’s account.”
By the time he returned from Parliament, UCU’s Financial Aid Manager, Walter Washika, had already notified the School of Medicine to clear Ogwal for exams and fully register him – a pure work of God.
The Bachelors in Dental Science student now speaks confidently about the future that awaits him. In the midst of his studies, he says that he wants to start a charity organisation that will help less-privileged children like him getter a better education and livelihood. Unlike at his home where he and his siblings only had one meal a day, he wants to give children the chance for more nutrition and a better life, especially in war-torn areas like his home district where the Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA) once forced his family to live in an Internally Displaced Camp (IDP).
Ogwal says in addition to his studies, he hopes to inspire fellow students about the Grace of God through prayer and fellowship.
“I am the first in my village to study Dentistry,” he said “My people expect a lot of me and I have to live up to that standard so that I can inspire the next generation.”
More information about the Uganda Christian University School of Medicine can be obtained at https://www.ugandapartners.org/priority-projects. To support students, books and facilities at the medical school, contact Mark Bartels, executive director, UCU Partners, at email@example.com or https://www.ugandapartners.org/donate/.