When you travel to the northern region of Uganda from Kampala, you will have to cross one of the world’s most famous rivers: the Nile. The Nile River is more than just an incredible force of water that flows with authority from Lake Victoria through to Lake Albert and on to South Sudan. For this largely agrarian country, the Nile River is truly a source of life.  The vast majority of Uganda lies in the Nile Basin, and this geographical reality helps to make the country a rich, fertile land. (more…)

In more than thirty years as a widow, I’ve never seen a group work with widows like this. Never.” - Kristin Lokwea Bungatira, Gulu District

Traveling through northern Uganda last week, the long rural roads led us to groups of women, typically waiting under the shade of an enormous tree. They had assembled together because we asked them to meet us as part of our survey of TCON’s agricultural initiatives. In March, we coordinated maize and bean seed to reach over 30,000 similar women- mostly widows, caring for children and orphans, working to rebuild stable lives in this post-conflict region. Now, with the first planting season of 2012 in the books, it was time to see the results of the seed given. (more…)

Yesterday the United States awoke to the news of a horrific shooting rampage that took place in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater shortly after the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight. The most recent reports confirmed that twelve people were killed and nearly 70 total injured.  While these kinds of events are sadly too common in recent US history, the scale of this crime rivals some of the worst massacres in this nation’s history. This weekend, Americans are collectively spending time trying to comprehend just how this kind of horrendous crime could take place. But as much debate over those issues that takes place in the next few weeks, the majority of people will have moved on in a rather short time.  Our culture has a generally short attention span, and new stories will overtake headlines sooner than later. Closer to Aurora, though, those who were directly impacted by the tragedy will continue to deal with the overwhelming realities. They will begin to make sense of how their lives are forever changed, and how they will be defined moving forward. (more…)

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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The Acholi people of Gulu and Northern Uganda are in the infant stages of a renewed peace and security, but the realities of the horrors they experienced remain just beneath the surface. Its true that the vicious LRA hasn’t struck with violence here in several years, but the trauma from seasons when bloodshed was a constant threat may well continue to haunt a generation of Ugandans.

Areas in Uganda Impacted by LRA

At the height of the conflict, the UN estimates that the war displaced nearly 1.8 million people. Most of them lived in IDP (Internally Displaced Person) Camps for years at a time, struggling for life on every level. A milestone of sorts was reached last month as the UN officially ended its assistance to Northern Uganda. The fact is that people have largely returned to their former homes in Gulu and across the Acholi region (the UN says 98% have returned home, and nearly 250 IDP camps are now closed). But while many emergency aid & relief organizations pack their bags to leave this area, the question remains: What happens next for these people? (more…)

The holidays are drawing to a close, and its only natural that we begin to really think about the approaching new year- 2012 is nearly upon us! What kind of posture we have towards a new calendar year is largely tied to how we feel about the year we just finished. There is no shortage of people and media sources summarizing 2011. Top sellers, new trends, impact stories, and favorite movies are all being debated. (Isn’t it obvious? #1: Tree of Life #2: Muppets Movie) Four million people went to YouTube to let Google do the summarizing of 2011 for them.

More personally,

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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…)