The Life in Africa Context
Outside of Uganda’s capital Kampala, where the eastern border of the city blurs into messy suburban sprawl, a rocky hill has offered 25 years of refuge to 10,000 of the people who fled Joseph Kony’s rebel war in Acholiland, about 400 kilometers to the North.
Known locally as the Acholi Quarter, Kireka hill is also home to one of the city’s largest stone quarries, which offers low paid and back-breaking employment to hundreds of traumatized hillside residents.
Twenty five years ago, the local king of the Buganda tribe offered Kireka hill to the Acholi people who were fleeing from the north, for as long as they needed a safe place to stay. Since the rebel attacks stopped seven years ago, the people here have been
trying to figure out how to scrape together enough resources to move their families home.
In mid 2013, Acholi Quarter residents were informed that the land they are living on has been sold
for commercial development. Though going home is what they have dreamed of, that hope is now infused with the very real fear that these fragile families will once again be forcibly displaced. In recent months there has been some unrest…. whether
they have the money to move or not, it’s now really time to go home.
Once a week for the past several years, 35 women who live in the Acholi Quarter gather at the small
Life in Africa (LiA) community center near the bottom of the hill. They bring in products made from paper beads to fill orders from abroad and to sell at their small community shop. They learn and practice new skills like sewing and learning to grow mushrooms
together, they save small weekly amounts of money together, and they support each other through life’s challenges.
More than anything these days, the LiA ladies plan together for the very complex and expensive challenge of rebuilding their destroyed homes and farms in the empty countryside 400 km away, so they can finally move their families back.
Needed: a new place to call home
The plan they've developed represents these inspiring women’s collective vision and wisdom for how they can best support each other through their individual transitions (with as little interruption of their children’s education as possible), and contribute
as a group to rebuilding their post-war community and culture in the North.
Most of the women own land already, but they'll need to plant food and build homes in order to start living there. The Family Transition Center will give them a place to stay while they do that. Those who don't have their own land (especially the single
mothers among them) will need a place to re-settle more permanently, and would like to develop the Family Transition Center into a longer term center that serves the surrounding community.
The LiA women and many of the group's international allies would like to specifically support the children associated with and living near the Family Transition Center, as they will be facing the most dramatic dramatic adjustments. In addition
to learning how to enjoy and be effective in an agricultural lifestyle, the children will need guidance and social support in adapting to the traditional Acholi culture that they have missed out on growing up in urban and IDP camp conditions.
With thousands of families currently at various stages of resettling in the North, the group hopes to evolve the new center into a
local community education and transition support hub.
To that end:
- The community at Edgeryders.eu has committed to working with the Family Transition Center to host trials of Hi-Lo technology, potentially including solar appliances, biochar stoves, permaculture,
mesh networks, hexayurt relief housing, etc;
- As part of the Ashoka Globalizer program, the founder of Naireeta Services, India has committed to bringing new irrigation techniques for demonstration at the center, which are working
well for Indian farmers in similar arid areas;
- Ci2i Global intends to host a Learn/Share Lab for Co-creative Impact and Innovation at the new center, inviting practitioners in co-creative impact and
innovation from around the world to share knowledge with the local community on nurturing co-designed community driven solutions to local challenges.
Nothing can begin to happen, however, without first buying land.