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Port Hope grad student doing doctoral work in Uganda
When Port Hope resident Nancy Heykoop welcomes daughter Cheryl home for Christmas, there will be more than the usual catch-up talk to discuss.
By that time, Cheryl will have made gratifying progress on her doctoral degree, thanks to the three-month trip to Uganda she embarks on tomorrow.
The daughter of Danny and Nancy Heykoop, Cheryl was born and raised in Port Hope. She attended Camborne Public School, Dale Road Senior Public School, then Port Hope High School before leaving for Guelph University.
“When she went to Guelph, she wanted to be a doctor, but she didn’t get into med school. She said it was actually probably for the best, and that it had happened for a reason,” Heykoop reported.
Cheryl would graduate from Guelph and take a master’s degree in England before settling on Royal Roads University (in Victoria, BC) for her doctoral work
Pursuing a doctorate in social sciences at Royal Roads University, Cheryl enjoyed a visit from her mom when she was announced as the winner of a scholarship in excess of $100,000 for her Ph.D. research.
This will be Cheryl’s fourth trip to Uganda, following up on the heels of two trips to Sierra Leone in connection with her master’s degree research as a child-participation and -protection advisor with the International Institute for Child Rights and Development.
Sierra Leone established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after more than a decade of civil conflict, and Cheryl’s interest was in the trauma it visited upon the children who testified and relived the horrors of war.
“If there was a process, or processes, that were more supportive, it may help in the healing journey,” she commented in a recent interview with a Victoria newspaper.
“Wouldn’t that be better for the children and the country? It just struck me that there must be better ways to do this.”
In Uganda, she will work on her doctoral study Telling Alone, Best For Me? Exploring Meaningful Child Engagement Methods for Post-Conflict Truth-Telling With Children In Northern Uganda.
Though the Lord’s Resistance Army — a rebel group that abducted and abused tens of thousands of Ugandan children — is no longer active, Ugandans are coping with the International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony (about whom the Kony 2012 documentary was made by the charity Invisible Children).
With another Truth and Reconciliation Commission likely to be established, Heykoop would like to explore such alternatives for the child witnesses as photovoice, art, drama and group activities.
The voices and perspectives of these vulnerable children and youth are vital, she said
“I believe their unique insights can profoundly impact how we see social phenomena, and can play a critical role in creating innovative social change.”
Following her return, Heykoop said, her daughter will be at Oxford to write some of her paper with the professors there. But she is expected home at Christmas.