And Now for Some Uplifiting News …

Beatrice Biira, whose fortunes were changed by a gift of a goat.

Beatrice Biira, whose fortunes were changed by the gift of a goat.

In a recent column, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tells the unlikely story of Beatrice Biira, a Ugandan woman who just graduated from Connecticut College. Beatrice was born to rural peasants in western Uganda, and started school late because her parents were too poor to afford to pay for her studies. But the family’s fortunes changed when they received a goat donated through Heifer International by a group of children who belonged to Niantic Community Church in Connecticut. Despite being older than the other first-graders, Beatrice was committed to her studies and soon emerged as a top student. One thing led to another and Beatrice’s academic performace was rewarded with a scholarship to Connecticut College. She is the first person from her community to graduate from a university in the US. Beatrice’s story has been turned into a children’s book, and her story is featured on Heifer International’s website.

Over the last 50 or so years, the international community has committed and recommitted itself to economic development and the eradication of poverty in the developing world. Considering the persistence—indeed expansion—of extreme poverty, there is more than enough cause for pessimism with regard to the efficacy of conventional development and poverty eradication programs in Africa. Beatrice’s story is only one silver lining on a large and gloomy cloud, but it does show what can happen when a child is allowed to live up to her full potential.

Africa is home to millions of children who may never get a chance to go to school, to prove themselves academically, and to rise out of poverty. Time and again, education has proven to be a sure path out of poverty and, although the obstacles facing impoverished children are many and varied, Beatrice Biira is living proof of what can happen when a child is given a helping hand.

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3 thoughts on “And Now for Some Uplifiting News …

  1. This story is truly inspiring. I’ve always felt that it is never to late to be open to learning and growing. However, there needs to be more done to give talented individuals in Africa the opportunity toward higher education, and I’m not sure if large festivals like Live Aid, et al. are the avenues to do it. What makes me really irate is how corrupt politics in these countries fucks with average people who want to get by and succeed.

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  2. “Despite being older than the other first-graders, Beatrice was committed to her studies and soon emerged as a top student.”

    A success story indeed, but lest we forget about Billy Madison, a pioneer in this arena. He too faced the challenge of being the older kid in first grade but he maintained his focus and passed with flair by drawing a beautiful blue duck. A quacktastic accomplishment in and of itself, I dare say.

    Like

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