Thursday, October 30, 2008

SOS Children participate in the annual Gulu Walk

On Saturday, 25th October 2008 hundreds of people from all walks of life participated in the annual Gulu Walk, an annual event symbolic of the Acholi children of northern Uganda, who used to walk long distances each night to town centres for safety, during the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency (LRA) for over 20 years.

Gulu Walk is an annual event that was initiated on 23rd June 2004 by two young Canadians Adrian Bradbury and Kieran Hayward to raise awareness about the desperate plight of the children, whose rights were extremely abused during the insurgency.

Dignitaries, NGO representatives, adults and children participated in the walk. Over 20 SOS children, mothers and other co-workers, donned in orange Gulu Walk T-shirts, also took part in the event, which started at 8.00am at the Gulu District headquarters with several stopovers at various points. After a 12 km walk, all the walkers finally assembled at Kaunda Ground to listen to motivational speeches at about 11.30 am. They were entertained with traditional dances and served with refreshments. The Chief Walker was Archbishop John Baptist Odama.

This year’s theme “Youth and children in Peaceful homes” rhymed very well with the SOS vision that every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security. The war in northern Uganda is almost over with no physical fighting going on, though the LRA rebels are yet to sign a peace agreement to iron out any fears amongst the local people. However the war experiences will continue to have adverse and long-term effects on the Acholi community. For instance trauma is most likely to deprive children of love, respect and security if no quick intervention is made. It was therefore an opportune moment to sound it out clearly to the people the need to create peaceful homes for the children to grow up well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can beneficiaries be relieved from the burden of fuel source? FSP Gulu wants it so.

Displacement, poverty, chronic illness characterizes the nature of families supported by FSP Gulu. Acquisition of firewood, charcoal, and the main source of fuel has always been difficult for these families. The SOS Co-workers read about briquettes from a GTZ manual but had never followed it up. In another attempt to seek knowledge and ideas through exposure, the FSP Programme Coordinator visited the Agricultural Trade Show in Jinja organized in July this year. That was how briquettes was physically discovered at the show ground.

Chris, a student of Agricultural Engineering at Makerere University was more than willing to travel to Gulu and have the people trained. “We want to spread this technology as far as possible”, he says. Chris visited FSP Gulu in October and trained SOS staff, beneficiaries and youth on how to make briquettes, a charcoal like material used as energy for cooking. Briquettes are defined as the compressed biomass or organic waste into fuel source. It is made out of organic waste: banana or potato or cassava peelings, rice husks, saw dust, anthill soil, cow dung etc. Briquettes made out of cow dung and banana peelings burn completely into ashes and are used mostly for cooking light food while briquettes made from anthill soil generate heat for longer hours.

Surely National Forest Authority will be more than happy to hear this if the people take it up seriously, family income and time spent looking for fuel will be saved, and there will be reduced expense on waste disposal by the authorities

The trainees have made an action plan specifying the time they will personally experiment in the presence of their colleagues and in turn train others.

Story written by
Denis Lyagoba, FSP Program Assistant

Monday, October 06, 2008

New village construction nearing completion

It’s now one year since the construction of the new village started. What sounded like a myth is becoming a reality. The construction company will be handing over the village to SOS Children’s Village Gulu by the end of October 2008. They are currently working on the final touches. When they handover, it will take maybe one to two months to furnish the houses before we finally relocate. I see ourselves moving into the new village either in December or January next year.

The village really looks so good and a nice home for the children. “The children are lucky”, mentioned one visitor from Austria. Indeed, they are lucky. But it’s not only the children who are lucky, the community as well. When I move around Gulu town, I see nowadays several compounds being planted with grass the same way we have done in the new village. We have set an example for many people in the community to improve their livelihoods.

Besides the construction of the village, several activities are concurrently going on in preparation for the new village. They include recruiting new mother trainees and teachers for the kindergarten and admitting new children among others. The Gulu project is growing bigger and bigger. When we finally relocate to the new village, we shall embark on yet another episode of growing family trees.