Greetings from the field! My colleague Pat Brown and I have just returned from an overnight trip to Kitgum, which is not far from the border with Southern Sudan.
This may be the poorest rural area of Uganda. While it’s true that “there is poor and then there is African poor,” this region offers a new, even crueler definition of the word.
We met with several groups of Village Enterprise goat business owners living in what remains of an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp. They reflect the demographics that characterize this area; few 25 to 45 year old men remain, since most were either killed or driven from the area during the 20 years of brutality inflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. If this was not enough punishment, with this group of men no longer able to defend their homes and businesses, the neighboring Karamajong repeatedly ran off with what remained of the villager’s livestock. They were left with almost nothing.
Despite the obstacles, I bring you good news: our Kitgum goat businesses are thriving, and the owners and their families are benefiting. In just over two years, most businesses have grown from 5 goats to herds of 12-20. Owners explained with well-deserved pride how they care for their animals.
Did you know that income from one goat can pay one term of secondary school fees for one child? This critical step out of poverty is happening with increasing regularity among the families of our Kitgum goat herders.
Over a dinner of goat stew, I spoke with our business mentor, Charity, about the challenges our business owners face. Like many here, Charity watched her husband die in her arms from an LRA bullet wound. Charity spoke to me with tears in her eyes. “Everyone here has experienced profound loss, but Village Enterprise is helping them rebuild their lives. You have brought hope for the future to our villages.”
As a supporter of Village Enterprise, you are truly changing lives and rebuilding families in Northern Uganda. Thank you for the opportunity to work with these exceptionally resourceful and strong people.
President and CEO