The Next Step

13 Dec

This past Saturday, The Recreation Project had the pleasure of celebrating the conclusion of the second semester of our Piggery Training. After five months of intensive training, 23 hardworking students received their certificates of completion. We marked the occasion with a full day of ropes activities, a delicious lunch, and some thoughtful words from the program coordinators.

The full course of training was no simple task. Participants were asked to show up week after week and dedicate a full day to learning both life skills and the intricacies of building a piggery and raising piglets. Those who were committed worked to save money to purchase their own piglets, and many of them have built some remarkable piggeries. We are proud to share the fact that all 23 participants passed our final review test.

After spending the morning finishing up the course, we marked the joyous occasion by allowing every student to challenge themselves on the Leap of Faith, Climbing Wall, and Zipline. Cheered on by their classmates and instructors, many of them leapt out and managed to grab the trapeze bar, reach the top of the wall, and take that brave step off of the zip platform. We were immensely proud to watch these students—and friends– use everything they’d learned about challenge, risk, and self-empowerment to wrap up their work with us in a meaningful way. The support and encouragement was evident, and it’s clear that this group has become very close through the trials of the last few months.

Though we can’t help but smile when thinking about the classes and our wonderful party, we know that the work is not yet over. The next step for our students is, in many ways, the most challenging piece yet. Now that their piggeries are mostly completed, many are ready to receive their piglets. They will have to use the hard skills they’ve learned to keep their pigs healthy and happy, while also keeping in mind the soft skills they’ve acquired to help them deal with the stress that can come with taking care of animals. As Dan and Denish both remarked to the class, “This is not the end, but rather, the beginning. We have given you the tools, and now you must use them.” We know that every one of them is up to the task, and we can’t wait to see where they go with their newfound abilities, knowledge, and relationships.

Join Us in Welcoming our New Country Director!

24 Oct

The Recreation Project is excited to welcome our new Country Director, Oliver Paul, who moved to Uganda earlier this month! We are thrilled that Oliver has joined the TRP team and will serve as the director and supervisor to in-country staff and programs as they continue to fulfill and advance TRP’s mission.

Oliver is ideal for this role, as it isn’t his first time working in Gulu, Uganda. He also lived in Gulu in 2013, researching the socioeconomic impact of untreated mental trauma in civilian populations. He authored the report “Mental Health in Post-Conflict Societies: The Economic and Social Impacts of Widespread Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” and his primary focus in college was conflict studies, human rights, and African history.

Oliver has been working in the outdoor education field for the past three years and is passionate about experiential learning and character education. When he’s not on the job, he enjoys reading, hiking, canoeing and exploring.

The Recreation Project looks forward Oliver’s fresh perspective and wishes him well as he embarks on this journey. Please join us in welcoming Oliver to the team!

From Bullets to Bouldering Walls

23 Sep

About five months ago TRP bought a large stack of beautiful mahoganyboards. The wood is surprisingly easy to access as it is grown here in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan.

As we began to plane back the boards in preparation for building a new bouldering wall we were met with a surprise: multiple bullets imbedded in the wood!

While we don’t know the origins of these bullets, they are a sobering reminder of the many years of violent conflict which touched almost everyone in this region.

Just outside the UN in New York is a statue of a man with a hammer. The figure depicts the words from Isaiah 2: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks”. It is an image of the transformation of the tools of war into tools designed to give life.

TRP now has its own version. The bullet-scarred wood we bought will now be part of an activity designed to help people rediscover life! It is a powerful and tangible visual that captures so much of what TRP is on about.

Recently TRP held the grand opening of the wall. As many people had a great time testing out their skills and attempting various routes we also discussed the many ways which TRP can incorporate bouldering into our various programs.

A huge thanks to the team from Celebration Community Church in Denver for both fundraising and coming out to help build the bouldering wall! It will be a real asset in our work and visible reminder of why it matters so much.


Meet Peace!

4 Sep

Peace is the oldest child of four. She is originally from Kochgoma, but lives on the edge of Gulu town where she teaches a K3 (Kindergarten 3) class. Her youngest sister lives with her and attends a local primary school.

Peace joined TRP’s first round of piggery and life skills training in February this year. At the start of the course she was quite unsure of herself and the course.

“When I went for the first time I thought I didn’t like the course, but when I returned for many times I loved it because of the teaching. The life skills were very nice. It teaches me a lot, like how to manage stress, decision making and how to be a good leader.”

Over the five months Peace gradually grew in confidence and began to contribute more to group discussions. She also grew in confidence in her piggery knowledge and is now keen to put it into practice.

With her contributions and the grant from Geneva Global she has already completed most of the building for her piggery. While she hasn’t stocked it with pigs yet, through the course savings program she has saved enough to receive two subsidised piglets once the piggery is complete.

Breeding and selling pigs, she said, will help her to improve her life and help to pay her sister’s school fees.

Meet Bibeko!

1 Sep

Last week we visited Bibeko, one of the Piggery and Life Skills students, to see his progress following the course. His trademark positivity and jovial laugh were on display as he gave us the tour of his proud new piggery.

Bibeko has the spirit of an entrepreneur. When money has been scarce he hasn’t waited for things to change. Instead, he has sought out opportunities. From working odd jobs to helping those around him to earn an income by starting a burrito stand, he has found his way and helped others in the process. He had recently purchased some pigs in order to earn some extra income but didn’t have any training.

“I didn’t know how to care for the pigs, how to build housing, how to deal with sickness” he said.

He heard about the piggery and life skills training through a staffmember at TRP and was quick to join. He was also quick to apply his knowledge, almost completing the construction of his piggery before the course had even ended.

“It was really good. I learnt a lot more than I used to know, from planning to managing and feeding in an organic way. When I got the pigs they really smelled but not now and the pigs are much happier.

It’s really helped me to know the behaviors of pigs and what to do if there are signs [of sickness].”

As we walked he carefully showed us how he had used his new knowledge to develop the piggery, from the beds and fermenting IMO through to where he hoped to eventually install a watering system.

Like a true entrepreneur Bibeko already has plans in place for how to grow his piggery. With his wedding approaching at the end of the year, he hopes it will grow into something that will be able to sustain them. It isn’t just for them though.

“People ask me, “how did you do this?”. I want to show them that they can have hope because I have shown how to do it.”

These are more than just words for Bibeko. He holds a unique passion to see others succeed along with him. Although he is only just starting he has already begun to teach his neighbours how they can develop or improve their own piggeries.

To find out more about the Piggery and Life Skills training and how you can support programs like these, head to our Agriculture and get involved pages.