NORMAN — For most students, choosing a service trip to Africa over a leisurely vacation during spring break would be out of the question, but University of Oklahoma College of Law students Kasey Stricklin, Ronni Laizure and Adam Engel aren’t like most students.
“I always spend my spring break on the beach, but I spoke to a friend about this trip for 5 minutes and it was like fate — I knew that was what I wanted to do, and I couldn’t tell anyone why, but I’m so glad I did it,” Engel said.
Stricklin, Laizure and Engel spent more than two weeks in Gulu, Uganda, at Saint Monica Girls School led by globally-recognized humanitarian Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma-based nonprofit Pros for Africa, the students’ trip was a first-time opportunity to donate their time and legal scholarship by offering classes to St. Monica students on domestic abuse, resources and advocacy, in addition to helping with the school’s daily operations and needs.
Though Uganda has been ravaged by the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army and continues to struggle with poverty, the students found ready opportunities to make a difference in a social climate that is anything but despondent.
“There’s so much hope at St. Monica’s, in spite of the tragedy that’s taken place in Uganda — it’s like an oasis, it’s the opposite of what I expected,” Engel said.
“There’s so much joy in everything they do,” Laizure agreed.
“Even when we were helping in the clinic, people who needed medical treatment would come up looking very serious, but the minute you smiled and greeted them, they’d break out into these beautiful smiles. Everyone was very kind,” Stricklin said.
In spite of moderate difficulty with language and cultural barriers, the students said their efforts teaching classes were very successful with the help of Sr. Rosemary.