December Fellow Field Update by Martin Theuri
She eloquently told her story with steely determination, truly a strong character, but a deep look into her eyes and the irregular tight clutching of fists, displayed deep-seated bitterness that still lingered. As she ended, a stifling wave of sorrow and pity swept over me. Even the face of Charity, a Volunteer Business Mentor, despite having heard the experience many a times, portrayed the same.
Tall and beautiful Lamaro Peace was abducted as a 10 years old girl by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and served as a wife for twelve years to one of the bandit soldiers. She is now twenty five years old and re-married with two daughters. In her fourth year since her release back to normal life, Lamaro speaks of the severe trauma of rejoining civil life. She slowly tries to tuck the wasted past in a corner, an extremely daunting ask.
Two years ago, Village Enterprise gave Lamaro and her group five goats. Now there is a flock of fifteen! For such a fragile case, the goat project could not have been more catalytic. Major progress has been made to meet basic needs such as buying school uniform for their children and supplementing their nutritional needs. As they posed for photos with their flock of healthy jumpy goats, there were many utters of “Apwok matek!” which translates to “thank you” in the Acholi language from the women group members.
The resilience and tenacity of the human spirit is amazing. The ability to bounce back, even when all odds are against you, weaving through daily challenges with meager means is incredible. But when that spirit is co-joined with interventions of Village Enterprise, this is the best gift you would ever offer, especially during the Holidays. Lamaro managed to go back to school and is able to speak above-average English, but had no access to capital or skills for a trade. Coupling her strength of mind with our seed capital, training and mentoring, she will be an inspiring case to study for years to come.
As we design the expansion of this project, we continue to incorporate the lessons that we learned from studying current group businesses. We will adopt and recommend those practices which add value and suit the project to the business owners. We shall be patient in changing bad practices as we introduce and encourage better animal husbandry and record-keeping practices, to name a few.
Martin Theuri, Village Enterprise Fellow