I had mentioned before that there has already been need for these people to go back home. When we did our yearly needs assessment , some 3 years or so ago, everyone's priority was "going back home". Life has not been very easy for these ladies, they live in very small mud rooms which is supposed to act as a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom and any other activity one can think of or even chicken rearing as seen in this picture. Irene(in picture) says "we all have to sleep in this small room with my six children, others on the floor and the younger ones share a bed with me separated by a curtain so difficult , sometimes they have to sit outside while I cook".So before the whole mess about the land issue that is now forcing them to leave immediately, they had started planning on how they would slowly develop the strategy of finally getting there, but oops! it kind of caught us all unprepared, that's why we are trying to save the situation by helping them have a starting point.
Many might have asked why we have to create a center for these people when they are going back to their own land? Yes they are , but after almost 25 years of being away from a place, you can never be so sure.Some people lost their husbands during the war and as per our culture, land is a communal property own mainly by men, unless you first clarify such issues, it's so difficult to just go with the children all at once , you can easily be stranded . For others who had some better jobs , they would once in a while travel and check on their land or whatever they had left behind, but remember these people have been living in very hard situations barely earning $2 a day ,which is not even enough for a day's meal, their main jobs being stone quarrying( which most have been turned into living areas) and others hawking sweet bananas around town on their heads( this has also become difficult since the city authority has prohibited any kind of hawking in the city), there was no way they could save the money to visit home. So for a smooth transition, this center will be a stop over whenever they would like to go and check on such issues, and to live until their own houses are finally done . Initially the Acholi people were very social people, that members of a clan would look at one another as brothers , but the war has robbed them of this very exceptional value, people no longer look beyond their immediate families, this is not because they do not care but they too are lacking, everyone is just trying to resettle, and that is why we need to do something and fast to help these ladies.
We have been trying different ways for them to generate some income , like making beads, mushroom growing and others doing tailoring, but they still had school fees to pay for their children and the orphans who were under their care .Almost every family who we are working with,have more than three orphans from relatives who would have died in the war.There were also other necessities like paying rent for the ramshackle houses that they live in, medical bills ,clothing etc.. . This though, does not mean that our work has been in vain when I talk about them having such conditions, a lot has been achieved and they will be able to practice the new things that they have learnt when they finally get there, but first we need to help them get there, it's a difficult task , but together we can make this happen. Please look at the fundraising that we have set to help them realize their dream of living in a better environment , you can click here ;