Since 1987, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) waged war in Northern Uganda, destroying people and villages and displacing thousands. One day the LRA attacked a village in Kitgum, Uganda in broad daylight, killing 57 people. Mary Laker, 42, was a victim of that massacre. Mary was tied up by the rebels to be killed with her family and neighbors but she managed to escape. On that day, Mary lost her husband, three children, and sister. Traumatized by the event, Mary sought shelter in a women’s rehabilitation center. After three months, she was still unready to return home due to the trauma she had endured.
For the next few years, Mary lived in the home of the Resident District Commissioner; during this time she ran a retail kiosk in town. Mary took her first step toward returning home by moving to the Mucwini Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camp to be closer to friends and former neighbors. In the IDP camp, Mary constructed her own hut and began selling yeast from her home. She eventually remarried and had a child. After the massacre, Mary felt that she could never return home to her village to live happily.
However, after becoming a participant in the Village Enterprise program and receiving business training, ongoing mentoring, and five goats to start a goat-rearing business, Mary has plans to move out of the camp with her family and business group members to resettle in the area. She looks forward to building a new home–and a new life–with the income from her business in the camp and the new start of her group’s goat-rearing business.
Two-thirds of Village Enterprise business owners are women.
75% of Village Enterprise businesses are still in operation after 4 years.