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Stories of

from the Field

Gulu Women’s Economic Development & Globalization | www.gwedg.org


Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G) is a women’s rights organization in Northern Uganda that was founded in 2004 as a non-profit, non-partisan and non-governmental organization. We implement short and long term sustainable development programs inline with Health, Human Rights, Peace building, Economic and Social Empowerment, Psychosocial support for children and youth, Research, and Advocacy. We envision a healthy, non-violent environment free from poverty and discrimination. Our mission is to strengthen the capacity of grassroots communities in Northern Uganda to become self-reliant agents of change for peace and development through training and education for them to make effective decisions concerning their rights, health, and development.


Table of Contents About this Publication | 4 Women’s Rights | 5 Carol Abachi Lawino Nancy Community Access to Justice | 9 Obiya Sam Atenyo Grace War Victims and Youth | 12 Odoch Lawrence Lakica Irene HIV Prevention and Maternal Health | 15 Adong Molly Zainab Apio Human Rights Education | 17 From Domestic Violence to Social Change By-Law Combats Domestic Violence Gender-Based Violence | 21 Ajok Betty Akulu Grace


About this Publication

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tories of Change from the Field is a compilation of success stories from all of GWED-G’s current programs in Northern Uganda. GWED-G has been working with grassroots communities, civil society organizations, and leaders at local and national levels since 2004. We have worked with over 140,000 beneficiaries and have recorded hundreds of community achievements resulting from our interventions. Until now, we have not been able to package these successes in one place to be shared with our constituents and supporters. This publication is a presentation of our work and the real stories that have emerged. And there are many more similar accounts that could not fit into this small booklet or that have not been officially recorded. And while the stories here are classified under distinct programs, often times our beneficiaries take part in more than one GWED-G program in their area. GWED-G’s presence in our partner communities is rarely one-dimensional, allowing us to build strong and comprehensive relationships with grassroots communities and local governments alike. In one sub-county, we may hold an HIV testing event, a community justice dialogue, an income-generation training, and a gender-based violence awareness session in the same week. We are also very active in district and sub-district government meetings and celebrations such as Women’s Day, World Water Day, and International Peace Day just to name a few. Our partnerships with other nongovernmental organizations span from Uganda to Norway and from East Africa to North America. We hope to use this publication to share our practices and successes with donors, community members, local and international supporters, and policy makers. But overall, we want to shed light on the incredible communities that we have the privilege of working with. These grassroots leaders are at the forefront of community development and peace building. Without their commitment to health, human rights, economic empowerment, peace, and advocacy for themselves and their communities, no program would be successful and no positive social change would occur. We encourage our readers to discuss and share the issues and the stories presented here. We are looking forward to continuing our work and expanding our programs on the ground. Sincerely, The GWED-G Team 4


Gulu Women’s Economic Development & Globalization

WOMEN’S RIGHTS Carol Abachi, 29 Women’s Group Leader, Bobi Sub-county Carol Abachi 29 is married to Charles 46 of Kalamomoya Village, Paidwe Parish in Bobi Sub County and has been blessed with four children in their marriage. Her role used to be full time housewife whose daily roles and responsibilities were confined within the four walls of the house. Trained by her parents and influenced by culture, Carol was denying herself various opportunities such as freedom of association and expression in meetings and gatherings. She feared that attending family meetings, and worse, expressing her opinion was a farfetched dream that would never come true in her life. In 2009 at the onset on the women rights project, during mobilization, selection and formation of women groups in Bobi Sub County, GWED-G went through the Sub County to help in the process and fortunately the sub county assigned her husband Mr. Charles, the Parish Chief of Paidwe Parish, as the focal point person for the process. Mr. Charles jokingly passed on the information to Carol to attend the meeting for the selection and formation of women groups at the Sub County. She fought the cultural attitude and went to attend the meeting and during the formation of the women groups, the women selected her as the women group leader for Paidwe parish in Bobi Sub County, a role she did not like. As women rights activities rolled on, the women’s groups were trained in many aspects including human rights, human rights violations and abuses, Gender based violence, group dynamics and leadership skills, community mobilization and campaign strategies, and business skills training. Upon receipt these trainings and realization of the existence of women rights as justified under provisions in international human rights laws and instruments such as CEDAW, UDHR and above all Article IV of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda, in 1995 Carol was motivated to break out of the confinement of her home and take on a leadership role. 5


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“I never imagined being a leader at any one time and thought that my greatest role and responsibility was take care of children, cook food, fetch water, wash clothes. But now I am the leaders of all GWED-G women groups in Bobi Sub County. I don’t only attend meetings but actively contribute in discussions where men and women are participants. I speak confidently in public gatherings. I am also now respected by men and women because of the work that I do in helping them solve conflict. I am friends to police, health center III personnel. I can afford to bring food on the table because of the economic empowerment received from GWED-G. My life has improved in the 3 years of this project positively”

Carol Abachi at the start of the program. Carol is now the leader of her local women’s group supported by GWED-G.

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Lawino Nancy, 17 Student, Bobi Sub-county In the village of Kulu Otit, Paidwe parish, Bobi Sub County lives a couple Mary Ajok, 38 and Ameny Joe, 40. The couple lives solely through peasantry and ensures that they make ends meet through supporting a family of five members including the provision of basic needs such as food, shelter clothing and education for attainment of brighter future opportunities. This family was blessed with a girl called Lawino Nancy who is now 17 and in Primary six in Bobi P.7.School. However, due to influence from peers and bad neighborhood exemplary life, Nancy was discouraged from schooling with persuasion that by the time she completes her schooling she will already be too old and nobody especially men will marry her hence being laughing stalk and joke. Satisfied by explanations advanced by peers and bad neighbors, Nancy was convinced to give up on schooling and enter into marriage at 17. She even began dating and abandoned school because she believed that she was too dull to attend school. Concerned about her daughter’s unbecoming behavior coupled with the fear to talk to her, Mary Ajok 38, contacted Lokokwo Peyot women group and the Paidwe women councilor and in charge of education in Bobi Sub County Council, Honorable Fatuma Awaa, for assistance. The ever-ready women’s group trained in conflict management, mediation, GBV prevention, awareness raising, human rights concepts, documentation and monitoring of Human rights violations and abuses, scheduled a meeting at the couple’s home in Kulu Otit. In the morning of 18th February 2012, Honorable Fatuma and group leader Carol Abachi visited the couple’s home at 7:30 AM before the girl had left home. She was surprised and in fact shocked to learn of the councilor and Carol’s visit. However, the two played downed the significance of their visit, saying it was routine checking on girls and boys who are not attending school despite the existence of Universal Primary Education. A meeting was organized and Nancy was given time to explain why she absconds school and opts into early marriage. She explained that the reasons she was not schooling were that she had failed to 7


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perform well in classroom test and was not allowed to go back to school. She also added that she was being misled by married women, including the chairperson of Child Protection Committee, that schooling would make her get old and hence fail to get a man who will marry her since most of the women got married even before her age. Convinced by the explanations given by the women, she decided to abandon school and get into early marriage. With the counseling provided by the women’s group and she repented and apologized for the pains and suffering she had caused to the family and the women groups and vowed to go back to school if given an opportunity The women councilor and Carol sought her opinion after counseling and guidance about her future; where she said she wanted to join a technical college to enable her pursue a course and she thought that her qualification would enable her join the technical college. She was advised to finish Primary seven so that she could join the technical college and taken to school where the two women pleaded with the head teacher to readmit her so as she continues schooling. She was considered by the head teacher of Bobi P.7 School and now she is chasing her dream of joining a technical school.

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COMMUNITY JUSTICE Obiya Sam, 67 Human Rights Volunteer, Lamogi Sub-county Obiya Sam, 67, has been both a human rights abuser and defender. He has also been a champion for the rights of persons with disabilities in his community. Sam was born in 1944 in Agwayugi Village in Lamogi Sub-county. He served in the Uganda police force from 1965 to 1988 as a constable and then a corporal. His service ended after he was in an automobile accident and he lost his sight. He returned home to Lamogi and was elected to represent people with disabilities in the local government. From there, he was appointed as a Vice Chairman to Lamogi sub-county Council III and served for two consecutive terms. From there, his community entrusted him to become a Human Rights Volunteer in Agwayugi Parish. He was trained on mediation, counseling, and problem solving and is still working as a Human Rights Volunteer in Lamogi Sub-county. Sam said that the project has also served him as a person because previously, he was not doing well in the community or his family. Before he left the police force, he was frequently very cruel with people, using excessive force instead of necessary force. So while he had previously abused the rights of the community, he promotes and defends their rights through peace and awareness raising. Obiya Sam in the GWED-G HRV Office in Keyo, Lamogi Sub-county

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Sam shared some of the issues he has tackled here: “In my village, we have solved some problems especially on land disputes. There was a woman whose husband died. The husband left her with about 8 children. There was a person who wanted to grab the land from the widow. Now, ourselves we went in and intervened. We helped that woman and now her land has been taken back and she is living with the children in that land. Some other problems we have solved involve domestic violence. Those are very rampant here in our country just because of a lot of drinking. Now, when we deal with this domestic violence, we call the husband and the woman. But even with domestic violence, it doesn’t involve just the husband and the wife, but even the children. They are also involved. Because you find in certain homes, fathers refuse to pay the school fees for their children. Now after we go and talk to them, they “We are doing the same resolve and they start paying the work, the same project, school fees. You also find that some and we are handling the husbands take some foods from the home to sell for drinking. When we go same people, I think to talk with them they resolve to come there is no difference together and live peacefully. between me as a In the past, people with disabled person and disability did not know their rights other human rights properly. But after being trained, as a volunteers who are not disabled person and at the same time a human rights volunteer, I have been disabled” talking to these people with disability, talking to them about their rights, and now they know what to do and we have been talking to people that are not disabled, the normal people, on how they should stay with disabled persons and they should know how to handle disabled persons. And they should know that people with disabilities have also got full rights like any other person. People with disabilities are now gaining a lot of profit from what we are talking to them about and they are gaining a lot from this project of human rights volunteers and activities. When we talk of disability, I think there is a saying that “Disability is not Inability” in the sense that if a person is disabled, still he or she can do something to help the community. As on my side, as I’ve been trained as a human rights volunteer, now when I go and talk before any community, whether disabled or not disabled, they now have trust in me 10


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and they always listen to what I tell them. That’s why we say that disability is not inability because since we have been trained with other people who are not disabled, now we are doing the same work, the same project, and we are handling the same people, I think there is no difference between me as a disabled person and other human rights volunteers who are not disabled.

Atenyo Grace, 34 Community member, Lamogi Sub-county Atenyo Grace, 34, cares for her nephew, 12 year old Piloyo Kevin after his mother had married and left him when he was only 2 years old. They live in Amilobober Village, Palema Parish in Lamogi sub-county, Amuru District. After living with his aunt and uncle for over 10 years, one day Kevin was kidnapped from school. Grace reported the incident to the LC I of her area, but he was unable to handle the case alone. So the LC I recruited one of GWED-G’s Human Rights Volunteers (HRV) to help him to bring the boy home. The HRV worked with the LC 1 to involve the police and used his networks to figure out that the boy had been taken by his mother to Gulu District. Because the case was out of the jurisdiction of the local police, the HRV accompanied Grace to higher authorities in town, who provided the team with a vehicle to search for the woman and Kevin. Atenyo Grace at a Community Dialogue in Lamogi Sub-county

Unfortunately, their challenges were just beginning. On the way, their vehicle broke down, so they walked the rest of the way in order to find the boy as soon as possible. When they arrived, the team found the boy, and the HRV resolved the situation with the mother. Although she was arrested, she has promised not to steal Kevin again. Kevin returned home safely and is once again living with his aunt Grace. 11


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WAR VICTIMS & YOUTH Lakica Irene, 29 Restaurant owner, Patiko Sub-county Lakica is a former child soldier and a current beneficiary under the HOPE project and belongs to Kica Ber VSLA group. She lives in Binonga village in Kal parish of Patiko sub-county. She was abducted in 1991 from Atiak subcounty during cross fire with the UPDF soldiers and taken to the 4th division barracks .She stayed in captivity for 16 years and 9 months. She was later relocated to GUSCO for rehabilitation program which runs for 3 months. Lakica was then resettled back to her home in Patiko where she engaged in crop cultivation to earn money. With Lakica Irene in the kitchen of her her little savings, she started baking restaurant. bread for sale out of which she was selected for 6 months catering course at St. Monica Girls Tailoring School under the HOPE Project. After completing her course, she returned back to Patiko and got a job in one of the restaurants from where she worked and made savings. In February 2011, Lakica started her own restaurant where she has been able to win many customers. She narrates that her business has greatly impacted on her because during ordinary days she makes profit between 15,000 to 25,000 shillings while during festive seasons, she earns profit of 25,000 to 50,000 shillings. Lakica is generally a happy woman because of the following achievements:  

Her business has enabled her sustain savings through VSLA scheme. She is able to pay school fees for her children 12


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  

She has been able to meet medical bills She has been able to buy household equipments She has bought pigs and chicken that have multiplied

Despite her achievements, Lakica faces the following challenges:  High cost of rent  Expensive charcoal  Labor shortages

Odoch Lawrence, 43 Formerly Abducted Person, Lalogi Sub-county Mr. Odoch Lawrence is a primary school teacher by profession. He lives Ayomlony village in Jaka parish, Lalogi sub-county with his wife and seven children along with other six relatives. He was abducted in 2003 from Lagude village in Gem parish from Lalogi sub-county. He was hurriedly trained as a soldier and detained in captivity for two months where he got involved in battles with the UPDF soldiers. This exposed him to bullet injuries though he got some minor treatment from the bush. After two months, Mr. Odoch escaped and reported to the local council I of Lagude village from where he was assisted to report back to his village. Odoch Lawrence is still feeling the pain of bullet wounds from his time with the LRA.

Mr. Odoch was for a long time not able to walk long distances, do petty work or cultivate his garden. This caused his family some serious financial problems as he was the bread winner for his family. In 2006, he up-graded his qualification to a grade three teacher but unfortunately the inflicted bullet injury pain started again.

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In August 2011, Mr. Odoch accessed physical rehabilitation support through GWED-G HOPE project after being referred to Watoto Rehabilitation Centre and on the 25th of the same month he was admitted at Watoto Comprehensive Rehabilitation Hospital in Entebbe where he was diagnosed of ostemomylitis complication (bomb splinter in the bone) that had for long exposed him to sleep on only one side and also severely weakened his general health conditions. He is now free of pain and feels much better though still weak to move since he lacks energy and strengths as he is unable to do productive work like teaching, cultivation to sustain and support his family. He is now in physical therapy.

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Gulu Women’s Economic Development & Globalization

HIV Prevention & Maternal Health Adong Molly, 30 HIV Positive Mother, Lamogi Sub-county One Adong Molly aged 30 years old living in Olwal Village GiraGira Parish, attended the awareness and sensitization campaigned organized by GWED-G at Olwal village from the beginning of this project; she attended the PMTCT educations and was counseled by GWED-G social worker by then she was already pregnant and was advised to continue attending to the PMTCT programs at Olwal Health Centre. Adong Molly later on delivered a healthy baby girl with the help of skilled mid-wives. She later on continued to test her baby status and now the baby was tested twice and confirmed HIV/AIDS negative. This is going to be a continuous process; Molly is determined to keep her baby’s life with other supplementary feeding. A visit was conducted to her home and she said, sometimes she can go without a meal but will secure milk for her baby. Molly is one of the Beneficiaries supported under the livelihood support to generate income and increase nutrition for her family. She said if not for GlobeMed support this child wouldn’t have survived. This is a miracle baby! And with my IGA I will be eating nutritional food with my baby girl.

“If not for GlobeMed support this child wouldn’t have survived. This is a miracle baby!”

GWED-G focuses on Antenatal Care and PMTCT to prevent HIV/AIDS and reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.

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Zainab Apio HIV Positive Mother, Lamogi Sub-county Just like Molly, Zainab Apio from Palema village also was mobilized by the community mobiliser and attended GWED-G sessions on HIV preventions strategies and the importance of PMTCT and ANC. Zinab by the time she was mobilized, she was already expecting and attended counseling several time with GWED-G counselor, she later on disclosed her status and home visits was conducted. During home visits it was realized that the first child to Zainab Apio was already HIV positive and she has been school going. She was being discriminated from school because her mother was already known to be HIV positive, these has affected her involvement in various curriculum activities at school. She came home as young as she was, and confronted her mother, not knowing that also she is infected. She was tested and found HIV positive and now she is also put on ARV, however Zainab lamented that if GlobeMed support was to arrive at such a time before her girl was born, she would have been born free of the HIV Virus Just like the second born Zainab apparently is holding, born under the program and tested twice, confirmed HIV free.

Franny, GWED-G health worker, speaking to Zainab First born living with HIV/AIDS during a home visit.

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HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION From Domestic Violence to Social Change Paicho Sub-county Gulu District In Paicho sub-county, Gulu “At the beginning when District, the African Human Rights Education Project has partnered someone directed any viowith two local organizations to meet lence towards me, I would the need for relevant information also retaliate in a more vioand training on women’s rights. lent way. I am happy with the Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization HRE project, because it has (GWED-G) and Justice and Peace positively transformed me Commission- Gulu Archdiocese into a patient and polite per(JPC) are implementing the “Protecting and promoting women’s son and now I call myself a p r o p e r t y r i g h t s a n d t h e i r role model in my village.” participation in decision making processes” micro-project which combats the marginalization of women, recognizes their importance in post-conflict development and facilitates their inclusion in all aspects of society. This micro-project has been successful in increasing awareness and mobilizing both men and women to denounce human rights abuses such as sexual and gender based violence and land grabbing. A participatory approach to community sensitization has been taken, with community members putting on 24 drama shows to educate others about women’s property rights and 37 community dialogue sessions have been conducted in 4 parishes. Women have been empowered to seek legal redress when their rights are violated and a support mechanism consisting of paralegals and a Rapid Action Team has been put in place. One of the most significant achievements of this micro-project has been the creation of social change agents, both women and men of all ages, who are dedicated to promoting and defending human rights in their communities. GWED-G and JPC have fostered leadership in many ways including the training of 20 local leaders (clan, religious, local council 17


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leaders, and women) on human rights. Emphasizing active participation in the project has led to some inspiring results. Accaa Florence lives in LoyoBoo village in Paicho sub-county and, like many women, her life has been impacted by violence. She was the victim of severe domestic violence perpetrated by her husband, who was an alcoholic. When the HRE project was introduced to her village, Florence participated in group counseling and eventually managed to convince her husband to attend sessions with her. She no longer views violence as an acceptable way to resolve disputes and has observed positive changes within herself: “At the beginning when someone directed any violence towards me, I would also retaliate in a more violent way. I am happy with the HRE project, because it has positively transformed me into a patient and polite person and now I call myself a role model in my village.� Florence is not the only one who has been transformed by human rights education. Her husband and marriage have also benefited greatly. A relationship which was once defined by violence has evolved into a more equal and supportive partnership, with both Florence and her husband being called upon to mediate in several cases of violence in homes. Florence has personally sensitized over 20 women from Lapeta village on their rights.

To define women who have experienced violence as solely being victims is to discount their power. If more women are educated on human rights and given the training and support they need to be leaders, there is no end to the positive change they can bring to their communities.

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By-law Combats Domestic Violence Awach Sub-county, Gulu District Lthrough preventive approaches and using human rights education methodologies. These included training of women groups, conducting community meetings and dialogue with local leaders and working closely with sub-county councilors. Initially In the sub-counties of Awach, Palaro, Paicho and Unyama there was no by-law prohibiting the selling of household items which allowed men to use the money for drinking alcohol Alcoholism has been identified in the communities as one of the leading causes of domestic violence and especially physical assault. In these sub-counties, over 10 cases per month of physical assaults with severe injuries have been reported to GWED-G offices from each sub-county. During the 16 days of Gender Activism GWED-G held community dialogue meetings with stakeholders/duty bearers in the sub-county of Awach including surrounding villages and parishes. Over 36 councilors coming from 7 Parishes attended. After the dialogue the community

A community meeting with GWED-G staff members

leaders had already started formulating a by-law against GBV perpetrators especially on people who sell household items in their sub county .The 19


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LCIII chairperson and the speakers had pledged their commitment to table the draft copy of the by law in full council meeting in February 2012 for the committee to review and present their views so that the law will be pass by March 2012. This is a step in the right direction for community leaders to recognize the need to joint hands in the fight against GBV in their areas. In the village of Bolipii in Paibona parish, the village leaders had already drafted by laws which they had sent to the Awach sub-county council for approval in the next council meeting slated for February 2012 so the by-law could be operational in Paibona. Through effective human rights education and awareness campaign, and working with the grassroots leadership, this project has increased awareness on women’s rights and sensitivity of gender issues amongst men and women. HRE has become a powerful tool to encourage grassroots local leaders to further analyze women’s human rights challenges based on international and regional human rights standards and principles, forwarding the issues of accountability and respect for gender equality. It’s envisaged that by the end of the 3 year program, women and men in the targeted constituencies are empowered to participate on an equal basis in decisions that affects their lives. Already, in Awach sub-county, 3 out of 5 executive positions are now held by women. GWED-G’s hope is that with our continued work, this trend will extend to the surrounding sub-counties and beyond.

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GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE Ajok Betty, 42 & Akulu Grace, 32 Community members, Bobi Sub-county When asked what the cause of gender-based violence is, the women’s groups of Bobi sub-county all agreed that alcoholism is one of the primary culprits. The story is all too common: a grassroots woman is beaten and tortured by her drunken husband, who sells foodstuffs and household items meant for his family to fund his daily alcohol consumption. This is not new for the women of Bobi sub-county, but GWED-G’s Paidwe Women’s Group is working tirelessly to uphold the rights of women in their community. Ajok Betty, 42 lives in Paidwe parish in Bobi Sub-county. She had been a victim of wife battering for many years. Her husband liked to drink a lot and would steal items from their home in order to buy alcohol. The violence climaxed when her husband came home one night, picked up an arrow, and tried to shoot Betty. Luckily, the arrow went in a different direction. Betty ran to GWEDG’s Paidwe Women’s Group for help and together, they were able to start the process of family mediation to educate Betty’s husband on the dangers and rights violations of his theft and drinking habits. With the hard work and Ajok Betty at a women’s group dedication of the Women’s Group, meeting. Betty’s husband has stopped drinking all together and has not stolen anything from his family since. Betty has been empowered to transform her family and she has no words to appreciate the commitment of the Paidwe Women’s Group.

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Akulu Grace,32 lived with a wild husband who had a habit of drinking. He would fight her often and would chase her around the house with an axe. Grace is HIV positive and after she was hospitalized because of his abuse, he even confiscated her medical forms that gave her access to life-saving ARVs. She knew the Paidwe Women’s Group had come to the aid of other women in her community, so Grace, weak without her ARVs, went to them to interfere. On the day that the group members came to Grace’s home for the mediation, a discouraged Grace was planning on taking her own life. But with the help of the group, Grace is hopeful again and she has reclaimed her life.

Akulu Grace at a women’s group meeting.

Grace and her husband are still working with the group to solve their problems, but Grace’s husband drinks much less and their situation has greatly improved. Most importantly, thanks to her strength and the commitment of her fellow women, Grace is alive and is a productive member of the community.

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We would like to thank all of the communities, civil society organization, local and national government members, donors, and supporters that have made our work possible.


Gulu Women’s Economic Development & Globalization P.O Box 1257, Gulu Plot No.2/3 Opok Oyaru Road, Pece Division Gulu Municipality Gulu District, Uganda +256 04714 36460 gwed-g-uganda@hotmail.com www.gwedg.org


Stories of Change from the Field