Last May, while in Kikubo, Uganda, I met a sixteen-year-old girl that changed the way I think about education in developing countries.  She convinced me, with a smile and story, that education truly is the most powerful weapon to change the world.

Her name is Olivia.  Like many children who grow up in extreme poverty, Olivia’s story is one of struggle, pain and injustice.  But it’s also a story of redemption and HOPE.  Olivia is one of ten siblings.  Her family loves her very much, and saw something special in her.   So, when she was a young girl they sent her to Kampala to live with a friend of the family so she could have a chance to get a good education.  Instead of becoming a student, Olivia became an indentured servant.  Instead of receiving an education, she received continual abuse.  Sadly, this situation is not uncommon.  All too often, well-intentioned and desperate parents send their kids away in hope of education and opportunity, and those children are turned into slaves or restavek.

Thankfully, Olivia’s story does not end here.  A few years later, she managed to escape and return to her family.   She was several years behind in school at this point, and her father had no resources to pay for her tuition. That’s when Olivia met Pastor Edward Magumba, our local leader in Uganda.  Pastor Edward believes “that education is one of the key factors that will liberate our people from the shackles of extreme poverty and suffering and restore hope in their lives.”  Like her parents, he saw something special in Olivia, and because of our partnership and the Help One Now child sponsorship program, Edward had the resources to get her into a school to begin to realize her potential.

Last year, Olivia received a perfect score on her primary school exit exam.  This year, she is testing in the top 20% of all secondary students in the area.  She loves biology, computers, and singing in the choir.  She wants to be a doctor, an accountant, or perhaps a Member of Parliament!

Olivia’s life could have easily been nothing more than a story of lost potential…a story that no one would ever know.  Now she has HOPE.  And because of children like Olivia, Uganda has HOPE.  Help Pastor Edward, and other leaders like him, continue to invest in the education of children.  DONATE to our “Backpacks of Hope” campaign.

**BIG NEWS, for the next 48 hours, our friends at Case Crown will match your donations up to $5,000!  That’s right, you can DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT.  Turn $5 into $10.  Turn $50 into $100.  Fund a backpack and Case Crown will match it.  Don’t delay…DONATE to “Backpacks of Hope” today!**