Jeanette Blain | News Editor | @JeanetteBlain
Photo credit: Julie Ostler | Assistant Photo Editor | @jules1lo
Musa Francis Ecweru, the State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness for Uganda, visited UVU campus, June 3.
His work in Ugandan refugee camps was conveyed to students through stories of the living conditions of men, women and children living there.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 358,000 refugees are currently residing in Uganda.
Nursing and medical students are highly valued as volunteers because they can do much needed practical work in the camps. However, Ecweru said students involved in fields as diverse as the sciences, aviation and even farming can contribute valuable skills.
“UVU is growing the kind of leaders who are intellectually strong, but also big-hearted. That’s the kind of group that the continent needs,” Ecweru said.
In addition to encouraging students, Ecweru hopes his visit will facilitate student exchange programs between the U.S. and Uganda and fundraising projects to aid refugees.
“The young people from the United States may not have adequate knowledge about other parts of the world. An exchange program will be an eye-opener. I can facilitate the process of making them see that world,” Ecweru said.
40 community members, faculty and students attended the evening reception held in the lobby of the Center for Global and Intercultural Engagement. Here Ecweru recapped his ideas, answered audience questions and met with people one-on-one.
As African students in the audience were asked to introduce themselves, Ecweru took the opportunity to speak to them directly.
“Don’t take your education for granted. Some people are dying in the Mediterranean Sea trying to enter the first world to get the kind of opportunity you have here.”
He also said that, even if they stay living in America, it’s important to “keep one foot in the U.S. and one foot in Africa.”
“Get the necessary knowledge, but be prepared to bring it back to Africa. Africa needs this knowledge,” Ecweru said.
Ecweru was presented with an honorary professor award. He will also visit BYU-Idaho before returning to Africa, June 5.