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Join Us in Welcoming our New Country Director!

24 Oct

Join Us in Welcoming our New Country Director!

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 with TRP piggery trainer sml

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

Bibeko showing his IMO sml

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.

Farmers and Leaders

25 May


On Saturday, while taking refuge from the returning rains, I (David) sat down with Opira Kevin.

Kevin is participating in the current Piggery and Life Skills program and I wanted to learn more about why he chose to participate.

Kevin was born and raised in Gulu, not too far from TRP. He is married, and has three young sons.

He works as a boda boda (motorbike driver) to try and earn enough money to to house and feed his family and send his kids to school . He gets by, but making ends meet is tough. He has tried raising pigs, but with no training and limited capital he struggled, working by trial and error. He was starting to give up on his dream when he heard about TRP’s program and jumped at the opportunity.

As we talked and did a chair-shuffle-dance to avoid the moving rains I asked Kevin what he has learnt from the course so far.

“I’ve learnt how to do IMO, plumbing for drip feeding, building piggery buildings, identifying different breeds and more. It has been really helpful what I am getting here. Really helpful!

When I probed about the life skills elements he chuckled.

“It’s no secret that I’m bad when it comes to the life skills. The life skills elements are necessary and really bring out who you are. I struggled at first but now I’m making friends with people from all walks of life and have learnt how to be with others. I’ve also learnt about conflict resolution and problem solving.”

“I didn’t see much benefit in connecting with the others [participants] but I’ve learnt to work as a unit with others and will continue to have contact with them after the course.”

When I asked Kevin about the difference that this course will make to him, he became a little more animated. While the training will assist him to earn a sustainable income for his family it is clearly also reigniting energy for a dream that he had previously held.

“It has been my dream to do farming on a commercial scale and I know now that I’ll be able to do it!”

“Not only will we emerge as farmers but as people who know how to be leaders in the community. I don’t think I will be the same again. I will be a better farmer and a better person.”

In order to make this project happen, TRP has partnered with Geneva Global. With their support we have been able to eliminate some of the cost barriers which usually come with courses like these. In order to join the course, participants pay a small course fee which they receive back at towards the end of the course with an additional grant. This will enable them to immediately build their own piggeries. They also contribute weekly to a savings program which they will have access to at the end of the program in order to purchase pigs.

“Usually these courses are too expensive,” Kevin told me, “and capital has always been an issue.”

“I would have easily given up but the grants will enable me to do it and now I believe I can do it. I’m never going to give up again!”

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.