On behalf of my team here at YOLRED, I am proud to announce that we have opened our first official office in Gulu, Northern Uganda.
This is the latest exciting step in our journey and the achievement of a dream after the successful launch of the Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) last fall. Our organization is the first organization in northern Uganda that is designed and run by former combatants and dedicated to serving and reintegrating our peers.
Before having our own space, we were previously limited to working at an array of restaurants around the Gulu community until the appropriate location could be found and secured. We now have a four room office located on a parcel of land 50x26 meters large. Although YOLRED is renting the property for now, rent is secured over the next seven months, through September of this year. Including a reception area, the YOLRED office accommodates our accounting, human resources and administration teams, as well as one large office space allotted for program team and community meetings.
Having our own office space is really a big accomplishment to both YOLRED and the community we serve. Now we have the security of having a space where we can plan, monitor, organize and meet. Other former combatants who are looking for support will now have a central and known place to come for help. My colleague Charles Okello put it best when he said:
"Now we are not seen as just a 'briefcase' organization that travels around to meet people where they are but also as an organization that is a safe space to visit. Its now easier for us to be visible to the national and international organizations that need to hear the perspective of former combatants".
Furthermore, having our own space will make it easier for us to operate efficiently and at a lower overall cost. Above all, having our own office is creating a great deal of good will with the community around us who can see a tangible display that we have a level of leadership, professionalism and support that many thought was impossible for former combatants.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far and we hope to welcome you in our new reception room if you travel to Gulu.