Irene has been one of our star facilitators at The Recreation Project for the last three years. Her energetic and compassionate approach always brings positive change within the young people she works with. When I learned that Charles would be pursuing a Masters Degree, I had my fingers crossed that Irene would be able to lead our facilitators this coming year…and she agreed! Here is a little more from Irene:
I am very happy to be introducing myself to the TRP family around the world. Ben asked if I would say a few things about myself so that you know me better. I grew up in Kitgum and Gulu. I am the second born in the family and have 4 brothers and 4 sisters. Times were tough growing up and we needed to get the best grades in school so that we could be placed on scholarship. In high school I was recognized for having high marks and was awarded with the Windle Trust educational scholarship. During that time I was active in my church and also held the position of Deputy Speaker for the Uganda National Student Association for the District of Gulu. In University I was taken up by the Madvani Scholarship. During the first week of classes all Freshmen were given a welcoming party. At this welcome party I was nominated as the female guest of honor—this is where I met Sister Margaret who connected me to TRP. I attended a training at TRP and was selected to be a roster facilitator. Throughout my studies the allowances I received from TRP helped with some of my expenses. Education is a high value in my family. In fact, my father has gone back to school as well. There is steep competition in my family to receive the best marks—my younger sister just told me that once she gets to university she’ll never leave.
I am really excited to get some girls-only programs running at TRP. Currently, I am working with Ben and Charles to establish an all-girls climbing club and some clubs in schools for girls in elementary school that teaches important life skills and about the advantages of making good decisions and staying in school. I want to see these young women become agents of change in our community.
When I started with TRP I couldn’t immediately see the benefit of running a recreational program in a jungle. Shortly after starting, however, I have been convinced of the effectiveness and importance of our program. Yesterday I was with a group where one guy explained that he learned two life lessons. First, that it is important for him to think and plan for his future—to not let things happen to him, but to make what he wants happen. And secondly, he said that, on several occasions he wanted to give up on the group activity. After persevering at TRP he found value in pressing forward and wants to apply this determination in his everyday life.