I recently returned from a trip to Northern Uganda, in part to participate in the launch of TCON’s 2012 Agriculture Initiatives. I documented the event of our first distribution in Odek Subcounty in the previous post on our blog. In summary, we believe our strategic partnership with tens of thousands of Acholi widows will help promote food security for this region. By empowering these marginalized women with better resources to farm, we are putting Ugandan’s in the lead role to determine their future. As we claim, we are fighting poverty and cultivating hope. But there is another lesson I learned in Odek that I believe is worth exploring: the moments when nothing can be done.

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“It is time to plant.” The words are spoken from underneath the limited shade of a mango tree in Odek, Northern Uganda. Nearly 1,000 widows have come together today in what is the launch of TCON’s 2012 agricultural initiatives. Over the next month, we will be bringing seeds ahead of the first rains to over 30,000 widows across Acholi. The place, the people, and the strategy are all very important.

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This place has been all over international headlines in the last week. Northern Uganda. Acholi Region. Gulu District. The reality of

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I was one of the 20 million viewers of Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 film yesterday. If you follow my twitter or Facebook account you may have noticed that I was wrestling critically with certain aspects of the film as well as Invisible Children’s ideology. Aside from certain critiques or questions I have regarding our global responsibility and response to such atrocities and human rights violations as have been perpetuated by Joseph Kony and his rebel army (LRA), I am fascinated by Invisible Children’s ability to ignite a movement through social media. We live in a different era, an era where the capacity for exchanging information and opinions continues to increase day-by-day. (more…)

My mind is having trouble conceiving that Christmas Eve has already arrived this year. As I child, the holiday season felt as though it took forever, creeping at a slow enough pace to intensify my desire for that much anticipated morning event where I would race down the stairs to see what Santa had set aside just for me. Waiting was difficult as a child, especially waiting for something as wonderful as Christmas morning. Perhaps that is when I first learned that to be hopeful, or to live with longing, could be painful at times. (more…)

“The fighting has left us with a lot of scars- but that is not where our story ends.” -Patongo Primary School Teacher

The 2006 documentary War Dance follows the journey of a group of primary school musicians from the town of Patongo in Northern Uganda, all the way to the nation’s capital of Kampala.  The children are traveling to compete in Uganda’s National Music & Dance Festival. But the trip is about more than a competition.  These Acholi kids represent a region devastated by the rebel group the LRA, and they are only recently coming to terms with the trauma they have experienced while living in IDP camps.

Patongo Students Prepare for Competition

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(Continued from Northern Expansion Part I)

My limited time in Uganda prevented me from traveling north to Acholiland where TCON has recently expanded it’s efforts. Instead, the Gulu leaders came to Craig and I to discuss future plans. The lunch meeting lasted less than a few hours, yet the conversations from this particular meeting have echoed in my mind and heart repeatedly since that afternoon.

In psychology there is a term called countertransference that refers to the emotional experience of a therapist in connection to the patient. In certain psychological theories, countertransference is deemed an enemy to the therapeutic process. In other relationally-oriented theories, countertransference is simply viewed as another tool for understanding your patient and all that they are bringing to the relationship. You can likely guess which camp I fall into. The therapist in me showed up for that particular meeting (I find it difficult to ever really set it aside). As I sat and took in stories of traumatized children – children who were abducted, forced to murder their own family members for survival, children who were tortured and raped – it was only natural to focus intently on the impact of trauma written on the faces of the women sharing these stories. (more…)

Since TCON’s birth in 2005 our primary focus has been upon the widows of the TESO sub-region of Uganda. This eastern sub-region is home to an estimated 2.5 million people and it encompasses 8 out 111 different districts throughout all of Uganda. When Dave first connected with Beatrice (our TESO Widow’s Advocate), she had founded a Widows Development Initiative (TEWIDI) with a total of a few hundred women. TCON agreed to come alongside TEWIDI to offer agricultural business initiatives and further development support. Over the past six years the organization has expanded its membership to tens of thousands, with recently-widowed women joining the organization everyday.

A couple of years ago, as relative peace in the northern Acholi sub-region became a reality once the LRA was finally driven out of Uganda, a widow from Gulu heard about what was taking place in TESO. Upon learning of an upcoming conference sponsored by TCON in Soroti, she was determined to attend so that she could see with her own eyes the power of a vulnerable people banded together. What she witnessed challenged her to begin a widows development initiative in the Acholi sub-region. Since she attended that conference two years ago her initiative has grown to 7,000 women and TCON has been actively assisting this organization with similar agricultural projects. (more…)

Fight Awareness

Beginning this week, TCON will have a team from the USA composed of staff and supporters visiting  our field projects in the Teso Region and attending one of our widows conferences. We look forward to sharing stories and reports from a variety of voices in the coming weeks. Today, our newest staff member, Craig Nason, reflects on embarking on his first trip to Uganda.

Aboka Lam!” – Acholi Proverb roughly translated “Narration alone is inadequate”

On a journey to Peru several years ago, I found myself in a crowded church built on a sandy hilltop an hour north of Lima. The community there was originally founded for migrant workers who moved to the country’s capital looking for work. They were allowed to build crude homes on barren dunes that rose just east of the Pacific break. With the most basic infrastructure absent, a promising future may have seemed fleeting to those who settled there, but it was the best option they had at the time. Over many years, the families of Pachacutec struggled with fathers who would leave town for weeks at a time seeking work and a regular income. Many women were left behind to raise families, and many children would lose touch with their dads entirely. The promises of a better life escaped most. (more…)