Jen is fifteen years old. She lives in Gulu, Uganda and is still in elementary school. She is an exceptional student and has always worked hard in school. She is educated well enough to advance to secondary school; however, she does not have enough money for the tuition. Jen’s tuition is 1,000 Ugandan Shillings per semester; which is equivalent to about thirty cents US. Literally, pocket change.
This seems like nothing to us, but Jen has paid her own way through school and has struggled to earn this money. She has paid for her brothers and herself to complete elementary school by digging. Jen’s mother died when she was very young. A few years later, Jen’s stepmother, whom she also loved, passed away. Jen’s new stepmother verbally abuses her. “She tells me ‘You are worthless. No one loves you. We don’t need you.’ ”
Jen starts to cry and continues, “Please pray that someone will come into my life that loves me.”
Jen’s father has been an alcoholic for as long as she can remember. He is in and out of her life and beats her and her stepmother whenever he is actually home. The reason Jen cannot continue to secondary school is because her father steals all of her digging money for alcohol. Jen told us that she just keeps working so that she can continue her education, which is the most important thing to her.
And yet, despite all of Jen’s circumstances, you will still find her laughing, hysterically sometimes, with her friends during a game of fútbol on the dirt field.
Jen’s story is a reminder for us to be thankful for our education instead of complaining about school. Be grateful for the lives we are living and remember people like Jen.