Solving Tough Issues through Community Parliaments in Uganda
Warm greetings from Uganda!
On Saturday, April 20, Youth Leadership for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) organized a community dialogue, called a ‘Kabake,’ where the community was granted a platform to share their experiences and derive solutions. The dialogue was attended by, among others, local council leaders, the police, child rights activists, business men and women, and the general community.
In the Layibi Division of the Gulu Municipality, there had been an epidemic of rape, robbery and violent attacks, especially on women in Library Parish. The community was engulfed in fear and hopelessness. Women could not walk out of their houses past sun-set if they were to avoid rape and attacks. Those in business had their property and money robbed, even in broad daylight, by a known gang who threatened them with violence or murder. And yet both the police and local leaders could not help the situation.
Mrs. Beatrice Ayat, a member of the local council and secretary for community service and production who represented the division chairperson, said the situation in the area had gotten out of hand because the perpetrators of violent crimes who started as children and would only steal from people had grown up and gained confidence to attack directly.
Ayat said they openly robbed people and raped women, threatening to beat the victims or torch their houses if the crimes were reported.
[quote]“I am so thankful to YOLRED for organizing this dialogue. When we have a problem in our community and we meet and discuss, we can always find a solution,” Ayat said.[/quote]
The officer in charge of Layibi Division police station, Assistant Inspector of Police Wilbert Adekere, said as police, they have been aware of the insecurity in the area but could not take any action because no member of the community was opening up to tell them who the perpetrators were.
Assistant Inspector Adekere consequently invited members of the affected community to secretly walk into his office and tip him on any security problem.
The Honourable Rose Aparo, a member of the local council, said she was going to forward the people’s plight to the council for discussion. She expressed confidence that the council would arrive to a logical conclusion that would save the community.
Mr. Odong Walter (We-yoo), the Community Sensitization Officer, said he was going to meet with the area Local Councilor One and his executives to forge a lasting solution to the problem. Collins Chwa Kisembo, the Counsellor and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at YOLRED, appreciated the community for attending the meeting in large numbers. T
The former child soldiers also had the opportunity to share their experiences and receive healing in what we called testimonial therapy, which aims to heal the traumas and symptoms of depression, low mood and PTSD within the vulnerable populations.
In addition to sharing news from our recent Community Parliament, we are pleased to provide an exciting update on the project for which we raised funds through Indiegogo: the construction of a community resource center to offer counselling, training and recreational services to the victims. Some days it feels impossible to get this up and running, but we remembered one thing that was also core during our GATHER class that “adaptive challenges require changes in values, beliefs and approaches to work.”
To that end, we have set off with a group savings and loan plan with the hope of driving the group towards a self-reliant, participatory development that should be sustainable. “Start with what you have” is the principle we applied for the construction of the community resource center. The Indiegogo funds we raised during GATHER for this project was not enough to acquire the land by itself, but we are building on these donations from around the world with local support.
[quote] We are happy to report that together we were already able to secure a piece of land, where we plan to have a permanent headquarters for YOLRED![/quote]
My sincere thanks for the support the entire team at the Goldin Institute gave us during our GATHER course, especially with the Indiegogo campaign, which made all the above development possible. I will share additional updates as we progress on our services to the community and the development of our headquarters.