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.
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…)
One of the things I look forward to most whenever I visit Uganda is eating chapati. Before I returned to the US after a six-month stay in Uganda back in 2006, I attempted to learn firsthand how to create this flatbread from Immaculate, TCON’s infamous cook. Considering the only two ingredients in this flatbread are water and flour, one might presume that it is a relatively easy recipe to create. I had to sit through a handful of demonstrations by Immaculate, however, because without specific measurements I struggled to accomplish the right proportions of each of the ingredients. Now, over 5 years since I departed Uganda, I am still unable to master the art of chapati-making. In fact, I have given up trying and opt instead to get my chapati fix each time I visit Uganda.
I learned on this trip that Immaculate’s chapati is perhaps the best chapati in all of Soroti (the district where our Uganda office resides). So of course hers is likely to put my best effort to shame! In fact, Immaculate’s cooking in general is known to be exceptional. In a conversation with Immaculate on this recent trip I learned about how she began her own catering business on the side to fill her time and increase her income generation when she’s not working at the TCON house. (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…)
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…)
In 2006, TCON released a documentary which showcased the plight of widows throughout Uganda. We have grown immensely as an organization since the release of this documentary, yet it still captures the beginning of our story and offers a glimpse into the lives of the women we are committed to serving.
We have been working hard to re-vamp the TCON Website and make it more informative and accessible to those wanting to learn more about what we do. We are also excited to launch the TCON blog where you can visit often to learn about the current happenings with TCON, discover news related to the work we do in Uganda and read feature articles that focus on the people we are serving. We hope that you will visit often, stay informed and get involved.