Ugandan School Praises USAID, Honors Fallen U.S. Soldier
Kitgum High School and the U.S. Embassy in Uganda celebrated the dedication ceremony of the school's new cafeteria August 10, 2010. The cafeteria was dedicated in honor of late U.S. Army Captain Benjamin Sklaver.
Sklaver served with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Kitgum civil affairs team in 2008. He is credited with bringing clean drinking water to impoverished villages in northern Uganda and leading renovation efforts to restore damaged government buildings. Sklaver was later killed in action October 2, 2009, during an ambush while on patrol in Muscheh, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.
"This ceremony honors Benjamin Sklaver and his work in the Kitgum district," said Ocan Michael, Kitgum High School head teacher. "He is a fallen scholar and a humanitarian of unprecedented benevolence. He exemplified the partnership between the people of Uganda and the United States. He will be missed."
The staff at Kitgum High School, located in the outskirts of the Kitgum district, educates more than 1300 students around the district. The school was renovated with the help of the U.S. military and the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Northern Ugandan Transition Initiative (NUTI) program.
U.S. Army Brigadier General James Owens, CJTF-HOA deputy commander, commended the partnership between the U.S. and Ugandan governments.
"Today we celebrate the partnership between the United States and the people of Uganda," said Owens. "We share an appreciation for education and how it can advance the lives of young people."
Owens also cited Sklaver's impressive work and said that Kitgum High School was an investment in Uganda's future.
"I hope that someday someone whose life Captain Sklaver touched, will reach out to someone else less fortunate and touch their lives," said Owens. "Just like he touched their lives.
U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier praised the efforts of local officials and their partnership with USAID in northern Uganda.
"At all levels I am proud to be associated with the revitalization efforts in northern Uganda," said Lanier. "These combined efforts show the Ugandan people that peace is here and together we will build a brighter future.
"Education investments are directly linked to overcoming poverty," said Lanier. "This investment also helps demonstrates the advocacy and support from local leaders. Kitgum is a small part of the Ugandan Peace, Recovery and Development Priority plan (UPRDP)."
"The government is deeply moved by the dedication of the building to Captain Sklaver," said Lanier. "Sklaver assisted many people in this area. He was so effective that his local nickname was Moses Ben. Even after his departure he continued to give back."
Lanier also said that thanks to dedicated service members like Sklaver and agencies like USAID, residents are returning to places where they haven't lived in many years.
"We deeply value our strong friendship between our two countries," said Lanier. "The American people stand by the Ugandan people. Together we will forge a better future for this country."