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Peter Makuei's inspiring journey and dedication to empowering refugees

4 June 2024

Peter Makuei (UWC East Africa, 2019-2021)

Peter Makuei received a scholarship through the Careduca-UWC Scholarship Programme to study at UWC East Africa in 2019. Peter was born in South Sudan, but sought asylum in Uganda as a refugee at Kiryandongo refugee settlement. Now studying at Oklahoma University in the USA, Peter describes how his UWC experience has inspired his community-building work, and how he is now in turn supporting young refugees.

I’ll never forget that moment when I received the news that I’d been accepted to study at
UWC. It was truly life-changing. Now, when I look back from the position I am in - able to continue my academic studies at a US university, while also pursuing my passion for athletics - it’s just incredible. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. That’s what forms my motivation to help others. Anything that I have learned along the way, I want to use that to help those coming after me. That’s why I decided to return to Uganda last summer to run a series of sports camps. When I was living in the refugee camp, I saw how sport could unite people. It brought people from different tribes together, those that had previously been at war. Once on the sports field, the only thing that matters is working together as a team toward a common goal. I’m proud to say the camps benefitted over 300 children across Uganda.

Sports camp in Kiryandongo refugee settlement
Peter running a sports camp in Kiryandongo refugee settlement 

I truly believe that there is talent everywhere, but these kids don’t get the opportunity to shine. I wanted to give them that. I wanted to give them the chance to show and develop their talent. I wanted them to know there was hope, and that they must not give up on their dreams. When I share my story with my teammates at university here in the USA, they can see the resilience I have shown. That’s so important in sport and in life! I have come through a lot and I think sharing my story helps put things in perspective sometimes. There are often times in athletics where you feel like you can’t go on, that you want to give up. I’m proof of what happens if you keep on trying, and refuse to give up. One day I would love to represent my country at the Olympics and I hope I can also pursue my studies by going to medical school. Ultimately, my dream is to return to my community - I know I am needed there, and I can make a meaningful difference.

Peter Makuei representing the University of Oklahoma in a cross-country running event.
Peter representing the University of Oklahoma in a cross-country running event. 

As well as the sports camps, I also mentor the next generation of Careduca-UWC scholars at UWC East Africa. Sharing lessons learned, I hope to ease the journeys of those following in my footsteps. In fact, encouraging potential scholars to apply to UWC has become a personal mission of mine! If I meet people who I think might be a good fit, I always urge them to apply. UWC has equipped me not only with knowledge, but also with a profound sense of responsibility and purpose. It has empowered me to dream big, overcome challenges and impact the lives of those around me.

 

"My story stands as a testament to the transformative power of education, resilience and community support. Where you begin does not need to define what you become.

- Peter Makuei (UWC East Africa, 2019-2021)