Release Date: 4/23/2013
University of the Ozarks junior Patience Ozuru has a calling. She feels compelled to change the world in whatever small way she can. Now, thanks to funding by the Academic Enrichment Fund, she is getting the chance to spend 10 months in Uganda working with children as part of Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM).
Starting in July, Ozarks junior Patience Ozuru will spend 10 months in Uganda working with children as part of an internship with Africa Renewal Ministries.
ARM is a non-profit organization working throughout Africa to provide child development centers focused on Christian foundations. Ozuru, a political science and international relations major from Little Rock, Ark., knew this organization represented the perfect opportunity for her to offer her help and learn more about her own future.
"After graduation, I want to work for a non-profit organization that puts political pressure on corrupt governments. This internship will allow me to get a feel for how non-profit organizations work," Ozuru said. "I'll be in Uganda for 10 months. Six months will be spent in Gaba, then another four months in Soroti."
Ozuru will be working in two different sectors of ARM's child development centers.
"In Gaba, I'll be working in the early childhood development program. I'll be assisting the social workers to get the infants and toddlers adopted. In Soroti, I'll be working with older kids, teenagers, as sort of a mentor. It will be my job to build relationships with these kids to make sure they are receiving the education and care at home they should be getting," Ozuru explained.
Ozuru's internship has been funded by the Academic Enrichment Fund, a university award that was established to help qualified Ozarks students fund enriching educational opportunities.
"Funding from the Academic Enrichment Fund has been super helpful," Ozuru said. "It motivated me and inspired me to carry through with this. Once I was funded, I thought 'Wow, I can actually do this.' "
Ozuru will have to delay graduation for one year as a result of the internship, but she is committed to following through with this opportunity.
"I love interacting with people, and I love learning by interacting with different people. I feel like this will remind me of what I'm working for, why I'm spending so much time in college trying to figure out the best way to help people. This is the perfect opportunity for me to experience how a non-profit organization operates in a country like Uganda," she said.
Ozuru always knew she wanted to change lives for the better, and coming to Ozarks has helped her narrow that focus.
"Before I came am to Ozarks, I knew I wanted to help others, but I didn't know how I wanted to do that. I realized that studying politics could give me the edge to understand and hopefully change political policies that are negatively affecting people all around the world," she explained.
Another influential part of Ozuru's time at Ozarks has been her spiritual growth.
"I've grown so much in my faith since I've been at Ozarks," she said. "I've developed a personal relationship with God. I've been plugged into a community of believers that has guided me into realizing what I'm meant to do. When I researched a little about ARM, I was so moved by their mission. This organization is striving to educate these kids about how they can help change their country for the better. They are also giving them a Christian foundation to make them not only leaders, but leaders for God. That's really beautiful to me."
Ozuru plans to leave for Uganda in early July 2013 and will return the following spring. She plans to keep a detailed journal of her experience, which she hopes to turn into a book when she returns to the States.