Partners-sponsored Ochen benefits in business school journey
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2022/01/partners-sponsored-ochen-benefits-in-business-school-journey/
By Joseph Lagen
In 2017, when Gabriel Trinity Ochen joined Uganda Christian University (UCU) to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration course, it was a dream come true.
First, Ochen, 27, had always got positive reviews from his elder siblings who were students at the institution.
Second, he had been admitted to a course he felt struck a chord. And there is evidence that Ochen’s feelings were spot on because, no sooner had he completed his course at UCU than he started his own business in Moroto district, northeastern Uganda. He roasts meat which he sells in the evenings in Moroto town.
Ochen, one of the beneficiaries of the charity of Uganda Partners, was among the more than 3,000 people who graduated at UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony on October 22, 2021. While continuing his meat business, Ochen is eyeing a desk job to enable him to pool some resources before he launches into full-time self-employment. He believes the knowledge he has attained from the three years he spent in the UCU lecture rooms are adequate enough to enable him to run a business enterprise.
“I intend to engage in commercial agriculture, through which I can empower the community in which I live,” Ochen says.
Ochen’s journey through school has been unforgettable. Having been born in a family of 10, paying tuition in a private university was not going to be easy for his mother, Betty Angeyo Oyo, a single parent. Ochen lost his father, Sam Odinga, in 1997, when he was just three years old.
To complete primary school and O’level, he got a scholarship for tuition from a Catholic Mission in his area – the Charity Sisters at Reginamondi Catholic Diocese in Moroto district. For A’level, when he got stuck on where to get finances for tuition, family friends and the extended family provided the support.
While Ochen’s benefactors were willing to help pay his tuition even for the undergraduate studies, they said they lacked the capacity. The uncertainty this situation brought made Ochen anxious.
“The semester was always engaging and fun, but as it drew to a close, the fear of being unable to sit examinations because of outstanding tuition balances loomed,” he said. “It was a trying time for me.”
It was in times like those that Ochen received financial aid from both students and some members of the university administration.
Ochen had joined the choir, from where he learned how to play the guitar. He was also a member of the institution’s band.
“I loved to play the guitar and sing with one of the school’s choirs, the Mustard Seed,” he said. “I was also part of the instrumentalists that played at the university’s main auditorium – Nkoyoyo Hall.”
It is through associations like these that made some people get to know him more closely.
“I am grateful to the university staff that helped me process exemption passes when I was unable to meet the full tuition in time,” he says.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many of Ochen’s benefactors were affected and so they could not continue supporting him. It was at that point that a friend, Jimmy, introduced him to the Uganda Partners and how to apply for the help he needed. Uganda Partners, through their sponsorship program, has assisted many other UCU students like Ochen.
“While I was initially hesitant, I saw the Uganda Partners poster calling for sponsorship applications. Thanks to them, I was able to clear my arrears.”
Through the university chapel, Thornycroft, Ochen has been able to do missionary work across the country.
“In 2018, I led a team of about 200 students to Moroto, northeastern Uganda, for ministry,” he said. “Later, I was also part of the mission teams to other districts.”
It is the leadership skills Ochen acquired while serving in the university church that he holds dear and uses at his local church, St. Luke’s Chapel in Moroto district, where he currently resides. He says serving in the Church at UCU enabled him to pick life lessons, such as the need to persevere, no matter the challenges that life throws at him, as stated in Hebrews 12:1-2.
With the degree in the bag, as Ochen settles to find his footing in the field of work, he says he has his eyes equally set on marriage.
To support Uganda Christian University programs, students, activities and services, go to www.ugandapartners.org and click on the “donate” button, or contact UCU Partners Executive Director, Mark Bartels, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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