Since 1982, Hands in Service has faithfully served refugee populations in many outlying districts in Teso, including Kapelebyong which sits on the border of Karamoja. In the early 1980s Kapelebyong became a refuge for displaced persons during the violent cattle raids originating from Karamoja after the overthrow of Idi Amin and the subsequent insurgency. Now 25 years later this displaced persons camp has a population of nearly 10,000 people. In 2005, Hands In Service, in partnership with a local committee of leaders in Kapelebyong, agreed to join the local community in a cooperative endeavor to build a secondary school for the education of youth who were growing up in Kapelebyong without any opportunity for secondary (middle and high school) education and preparation for college.
Through the sacrificial giving of Hands in Service supporters and a dedicated Soroti staff and the local leaders, the secondary school building and teacher housing were built and featured the first working light bulbs in Kapelebyong, powered by solar panels. The first class commenced in 2007 with 35 students, 5 teachers and a volunteer Headmaster. In 2010, the school graduated its first class and in 2011 had a young scholar attain highest marks on the National Exam. The school has become a remarkable source of community pride, accomplishment and hope. The school was established to develop a community modeled after the life and teachings of Jesus and help bring reconciliation to the Iteso/Karamoja region. Its motto is “Enter to learn. Go out to serve.”
The school was named in honor of John Eluru, who faithfully served as Chairman of Hands In Service Board of Trustees during the difficult years leading up to the1986 insurgency. John was tragically killed in an ambush in 1987 as he was returning from the final translation work on the Jesus Film in which he spoke the part of Jesus in the Ateso language. As he was dying he repeatedly asked God to forgive the ambushers. What he said with his lips, he did with his life. He rejected violence as a means of settling human conflicts, choosing the way of Jesus to repay evil with good. He did not die in vain and left his family, his friends, the Church, the people of Teso and Uganda a wonderful legacy. We miss him and rejoice that the John Eluru Memorial Secondary School carries the legacy of this remarkable educator, friend and follower of Jesus.