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IMARA means “You have shown me love” in the local Luo language, the language spoken and understood by our scholarship children and their communities.

As Imara-Uganda Education Fund we believe that all children have a right to an education and the hope it can bring for a brighter future.

As a charity founded on a Christian ethos, we are committed to helping some of the poorest children in northern Uganda achieve their dreams of escaping poverty by providing educational opportunities.

Although we are small in size, the help we have provided has already made a significant impact, and we thank all our supporters for their generosity and kindness.


Northern Uganda is the poorest area of the country having suffered 20 years of rebel army activity. During a 20 year conflict the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) raided villages, burned homes, slaughtered civilians, and recruited child soldiers through abductions from the villages and schools of northern Uganda. Thousands of children were robbed of their childhood and indeed many were killed. The war led to around 1,000,000 people being displaced and forced to live in camps. During this time many people did not have the opportunity of an education. Now families have returned to their homes and farms and have rebuilt their lives, but poverty is still extreme. Occurrence of HIV/Aids, malaria, cholera and other serious illnesses is very common. The level of unemployment is high. There are still huge numbers of orphans and families struggling to bring up orphans among their own children.

The Ugandan government pays a grant to schools for each child in primary and secondary school. However, schools find this inadequate and they impose top up fees which many families really struggle to pay. Very poor children either drop out of school completely or they are in school only when fees have been paid, so there is no continuity to their education. Fewer girls complete primary school or attend secondary school than boys.

When Norman Horsley with his wife Jackie, and Belinda Maclean, learned of the plight of the people of northern Uganda they resolved to give their support to a small Community Based Organisation operating in the name of Hands of Hope Ministry in the Lira area. It was run by a priest, Rev Hellen, and a small team of Ugandans, mainly clergy. We helped the organisation to give support with school fees to a small number of children. Many of the children were total orphans; some were children of widows or single parents with virtually no income; three were children who had been abducted by the rebels and had escaped or been rescued; all were seriously disadvantaged.



In 2011 we formed our own charity and registered it with the Charity Commission of England and Wales. We took the name Imara-Uganda Education Fund. A CBO and later NGO was formed in northern Uganda and a local management team was created, under the leadership of Tom Okino, to manage the day to day work. We continued to give grants to existing Hands of Hope Ministry beneficiaries.

The first seven Imara-Uganda scholarships were awarded in 2011. Most of these first children came from Abia, a bumpy one-hour journey from Lira along a dusty unmade road. Abia was chosen because it had suffered a terrible massacre in 2004 and there were many orphans and child-headed families. Most of the people in the area made a meagre living through subsistence farming. Our earliest scholars attended Abia Primary School as day pupils or two secondary schools in Lira as boarders. Each year new scholars have been added and other schools have been chosen so as to give the scholars the best chance of success.

A Resource Centre

General deprivation following the war meant that school buildings were in poor condition and poorly equipped especially in rural areas. Abia Primary School had very limited resources. The charity made the decision to construct a four room resource centre at Abia Primary School to benefit the school and the wider community. Phase One, the library, was opened in September 2014. The children in this rural area of northern Uganda had very limited experience of the wider world. By filling the library with many colourful books and photographs we hoped to enable the children to read about people, places and things beyond their experience as well as reinforcing the curriculum and things that are part of the children’s experience. We painted a map of the world on the library floor. An IT room was added and two teachers were sent on a short IT course. The final two rooms were added in 2018 – a large multipurpose room for such activities as music, drama, art, craft, and assemblies, and a small room for group activities. These rooms were furnished, equipped and ready for use in 2019.

Renovation of a school library, and materials for children with visual impairment

In 2019 work started on the renovation of the school library at Ngetta Girls Primary School not far from Lira. The work was completed and the library was furnished and ready for use in 2020. As well as paying for the renovation of the library, we were able to provide the school with a few Bibles and books including books in Braille. This school caters for a large number of disabled children, mainly with visual impairment, who learn alongside pupils from the local community. The children learn to read and write using Braille but the school had very few Braille machines. We were able to provide 12 Braille machines.


By 2020 we were supporting 27 children and young people in primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary education on full scholarships. We experience such a sense of pride and joy when children who have suffered so much trauma and hardship in their lives make it through secondary school and choose their future careers. An orphan boy who was abducted as a 10-year-old and suffered for two years as a captive of the LRA is excelled at college where he studied electrical engineering; a girl whose mother was unable to care for her when her father died is a successful midwife and mother to a baby girl; a girl who needed our support to enable her to finish secondary school and to take a diploma course in finance and accounting now has a degree and she heads our partner NGO Itinga Charity Education Foundation (ICEF) in Uganda. One of the first seven Imara-Uganda scholars  completed a course in business management and another two are studying clinical medicine in Kampala. Three of our scholars are studying nursing and one of our girls has completed her primary teacher training course. All our scholars have dreams of bright futures in teaching, engineering, or nursing, as doctors, pilots or lecturers.

A couple of years ago, we were looking for a suitable school for a severely disabled scholar. When Ngetta Girls Primary School was recommended to us, we became aware of another desperate need. This school was providing education, encouragement and love to a large number of girls and boys with special needs. Many of the children were visually impaired. The school was doing a wonderful job but with limited resources. There were teachers who taught Braille but very few Braille machines. We started a campaign and were able to provide the school with 12 Braille machines, Braille paper and a few books in Braille. We learned of the taboo that is attached to disability – some children are locked away out of sight, or if money is very short families will struggle to pay for some of their children to go to school, but not their disabled one. Blind children who do go to primary school when the fees are paid will often never reach secondary school because there isn’t one in the area and families cannot afford to send their blind child to the nearest suitable secondary school a two hour journey away.

In 2020 we awarded scholarships to three children who are totally blind. Now we have 6 with visual impairment and we look forward to continuing to offer support and to make a difference to the lives of these children with so much potential.

Some of the Imara-Uganda school children and college students


Imara Uganda Education Fund Past Students
Evaline has completed a primary school teacher training course.
Imara Uganda Education Fund Past Students
Kevin has a degree in Finance and Accounting.
Imara Uganda Education Fund Past Students
Sarah is a successful midwife and a mother.