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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.

Life Skills and Piggeries

7 Apr

Life Skills and Piggeries

In the Acholi sub region where TRP works youth unemployment is at 70%. While the lack of employment introduces numerous challenges for youth, developing income generating skills is not the only challenge to overcome.

“Believing in yourself and becoming determined to succeed is very important.  I know of a lot of youth who have graduated a skilling program and didn’t have enough confidence or determination to make their careers a reality.  Often times they just slip back into old habits.” – Ogeno Charles, Development Manager, TRP

In February TRP launched a new program working with youth which addresses psychosocial needs while cultivating practical skills for income generation. The program draws on TRP’s 6 years of leaning from activity-based psychosocial work with a new eight-module Life Skills curriculum which has been blended with Piggery skills training.

The program will run for five months, twice a year, and takes participants through all aspects of creating their own deep bed IMO piggery and rearing pigs while developing their confidence, determination, and capacity to be leaders in their community, resolve conflicts, problem solve, and more. Find out more about the program here.

We thought a great way to get an eye into this program would be to “meet” some of the participants so stay tuned for some interviews very soon!

After the Guns Stop Firing

28 Nov


Today’s blog features an article which was published this month in Peacewrites, a newsletter by the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. The article was written for the newsletter by TRP’s new Country Director, David Brice.



On the 13th of June this year I was midway in my travels between Uganda and Australia. I was passing some time flicking through my Facebook news feed when I stumbled across a flood of updates from friends in Gulu, Northern Uganda:

“Gun fire all over senior quarters. Get inside and lock down.”

“Heavy gunfire in Gulu town. Streets deserted…”

An armed group had attacked a police station, apparently in an attempt to free an individual who had been arrested. In the hours that followed, the police and army exchanged fire with the group in the streets of Gulu and south of the town.

This came just weeks after an attack on an army base in the same district in which a soldier was killed and weapons were stolen.

While Uganda enjoys relative political stability, recent events are a reminder that not all is well beneath the surface.


A troubled history

My wife, Tash, and I started jogging earlier this year. One morning as we jogged down a dirt road close to where we were living we saw one of our neighbours out digging in her field. The day before she had been joking with Tash and yelling at her that she should help her dig. We stopped to say “hi” and introduce ourselves.

After first berating us for trying to speak to her in Acholi—as if she couldn’t speak English well—she began telling us about herself. In the midst of this fairly casual conversation she told us that she was now back in Gulu after having lived in Kampala for a while. Her parents, she said, had sent her down there after she had been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for a time.

I’m not sure what caught me off guard more: the fact that she had been abducted as a girl by a brutal rebel army or how casually she commented on it, almost as if this was a pretty normal thing to say.

The saddening thing about this area of Northern Uganda is that it is actually quite hard to find anyone who wasn’t impacted in some way by violence connected with the LRA and Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF).

Over the 20 years of fighting it has been estimated that 66,000 young people were abducted. In Gulu District over 90 percent of the population was displaced. The majority of those displaced have only returned to their homes or land within the last ten years.

You wouldn’t know all of this by simply looking around. People just get on with their lives. They dig in their gardens, go to school, chat with neighbours and sell charcoal by the edge of the road. It feels like the buzz of normal life happening all around.

The hot spots have moved across the borders to places like The DRC and Southern Sudan and much of the funding for interventions has understandably followed.

The difficulty remains that peace isn’t built by just stopping the violence. Conflict isn’t resolved when the shooting stops. Scars haven’t healed just because people have stopped talking about them.

While widespread violence captures our attention, the work of healing, reconciling, rebuilding and pursuing just systems remains vital for the building of a “positive peace” which interrupts cycles of violence.

After the recent fighting in Gulu a security briefing was held by some of the NGO’s based in the area. Whilst recent incidents appear fairly isolated, an advisor suggested that we are witnessing all the hallmarks of the beginning of an insurgency. The military wing of a group calling themselves the National Democratic Alliance reportedly claimed responsibility for the recent attacks.

Perhaps the recent heat will dissipate. Perhaps it won’t. If it doesn’t, there may well be enough kindling in the widespread anger, sense of voicelessness and unhealed wounds for a bushfire to be lit.


Re-writing the future


In a little Eucalyptus “forest” just outside of Gulu a different future is being written. Instead of the sound of gun fire there is the sound of laughing.

In this little forest an organisation called The Recreation Project (TRP) is doing something slightly unusual: they are playing games. They are riding zip lines, navigating ropes courses and untangling human knots. In between the games they talk, debrief and laugh.

For the youth impacted by violence who participate in TRP’s programs, the activities, in conjunction with life skills and agriculture training, provide an opportunity for them to begin to heal some of the scars which remain. Here they have a safe place to feel and work through some of the hard emotions which emerge as they attempt to work with, and trust others.

They are creating within themselves a new future: one that is not dictated by pain and cycles of violence.

I am really pleased when I see individuals and organisations continuing to invest in so-called “post-conflict” areas like Gulu. Let us not forget all those who face the threat of imminent violence. Let us also not forget all those who quietly go on after violence, carrying the weight of scars and hurt relationships.