The momentous fundraising dinner took place on Friday 6th April 2018 at Hotel Africana where over 300million was raised at the high-profile event that attracted hundreds and was organised by West Nile Foundation. It also doubled as the launch of the West Nile Education Trust Fund.
The education trust fund which is aimed at mainly revamping the education standards in West Nile as well as fighting poverty in the region was founded by a group of passionate sons and daughters of the soil who have dedicated their financial resources and time to run the foundation.
From the initial funds raised that amounted to 50million mainly from the West Nile night, the foundation was able to kick-start the project of sponsoring four bright but underprivileged students at various universities across the country to pursue science courses.
According to organisers, 40 million shillings was raised from corporate companies and individuals that paid for tables, while over 260 million was collected in cash and pledges that day.
The West Nile Night which is a social event where people from the region meet to dance mostly to local music, but also discuss different issues affecting the region has been the main source of finance over the years. It was also officially resumed on Saturday at The Cloud Lounge in Capital Shoppers Ntinda after a short break.
While giving his opening remarks at the colourful dinner, the President of the West Nile Foundation Counsel Caleb Alaka said the region has faced several challenges ranging from wars and poverty that has left it lagging behind since colonial times forcing many to opt for petty businesses and difficult casual labourer jobs as security guards and sugarcane cutters.
“Several of our students study up to secondary school and then get stuck. I call upon all well-wishers, west Nilers and friends of West Nilers to support this initiative to join in the struggle to promote education in the region which is the only key to success”. He said
The education trust fund targets to raise 5 billion shillings to sponsor a targeted 300 students in five years time to study science subjects at top Universities in Uganda with focus mainly on agriculture and science courses for the underprivileged, but bright students selected by a trusted committed.
The programme is expected to increase the number of students sponsored to 12 by next year with focuss on all West Nile districts ranging from Koboko, Maracha, Arua, Yumbe, Adjumani, Zombo, Nebbi and Pakwach who will benefit from the scholarship.
Mr Dennis Aliga Asega an economist and Investment banking expert and the global ambassador who served as the key-note speaker at the fundraising dinner led by example by contributing 50Million while DMA Nigeria the company where he works added 10Million. He also officially accepted his appointment as global ambassador and promised to do his best in mobilising funds across the globe for the cause.
Other notable contributors included Taban Amin, the eldest son of former president Idi Amin Dada who pledged 15 million shillings. 30 million shillings from Munganira Company, 10 million from West Nile Web and area members of parliament who contributed ranging from 500,000/- to 5million among as well as business personalities .
Comedian Patrick ‘Salvado’ Idringi who was the host of the event cracked guests with jokes before pledging 3million from proceeds of his upcoming Man from Ombokolo show later this year.
The International University of East Africa IUEA which also announced a partnership with West Nile Education TrustFund to improve quality of education and life in general in the region offered five scholarships in different courses.
The former Madi and West Nile Diocese Bishop, Dr Joel Obetia who slotted in as guest of honour after Gen. Caleb Akandanwaho aka Salim Saleh failed to show up, attributed the slow development programmes in the region to poverty at household level. He blamed the increasing levels of poverty and the poor education performances on parents who have usually opt to marry off their children at a very tender age for dowry.
“I am disappointed in my people because instead of focusing on educating their children especially the girls, they are looking at getting riches out of them in form of animals. This practice must stop if we are to move forward” He said
Honourable Bernard Atiku the Ayivu County MP who is also the chairperson of the West Nile parliamentary forum and one of the main organisers of the event, said that Friday’s massive collection and turn up shows that all things are possible which only encourages the team to even commit further.
Generous contributors to the education trust fund were recognised and rewarded with certificates of appreciation and of course, a sumptuous dinner served to the smartly dressed guests who came from different parts of the country to crown it all.