The GROW team is slowly recovering from our jetlag and beginning to explore Gulu and meet the members of GWED-G. Yesterday we visited the GWED-G offices, which are only a short walk away from Pamela’s house, for the first time. Everyone was very welcoming and happy to see us. Although most of the staff was in the field, we were able to meet several members.
We met Remes, who is a quiet but very friendly and pleasant man of around 28. He has been working with GWED-G since 2009. Remes was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army when he was around 15 and taken into the bush. After escaping in 2004 and being treated harshly by his community, Remes decided to join the Ugandan Army. Unfortunately, this did not result in any improvement in Remes’s life or outlook, so he decided to leave the army and try to rejoin his community once more. Because of his experiences being victimized and mistreated as an ex-child soldier, Remes started a youth group for former abductees. He came to GWED-G in 2009 after hearing about their work with youth groups. Since then, he has become a youth group facilitator under the HOPE project. It was incredibly inspiring and humbling to hear about his experiences and how he answered the needs of his community by building on his own experiences. We also learned how important it is for members of vulnerable groups, whether ex-child soldiers, victims of gender based or domestic violence, or HIV positive individuals, to be able to talk about and share their experiences in a safe and welcoming environment. We are going to interview Remes further on Monday to hear about his experiences in the bush, in the army, and in his community, so be sure to check back then!
After speaking to Remes we met Bosco, the program coordinator at GWED-G. He’s essentially Pamela’s lieutenant; he oversees all the projects at GWED-G, including our own. Bosco sat us down and told us about GWED-G’s history and model. GWED-G was started in 2004 by a group of concerned Ugandans who saw the suffering of women after the war. He told us the story of how Pamela, when handing out food at the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps, saw a woman’s baby being smothered to death in the crowd. The woman could not leave the food line for fear of going hungry, as food was scarce and did not come often to such areas. Pamela found herself unable to console the woman, and saw the need for a community where women could come and discuss their problems while working toward solutions together. GWED-G progressed from weekly meetings beneath a mango tree to the organization it is today. There are four focus areas in its model: human rights protection and promotion, economic empowerment and livelihood projects, gender based and domestic violence awareness and prevention, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. This final area is where GlobeMed’s partnership with GWED-G comes into play. Over the next few days, we will be learning about each part of GWED-G’s model, increasing our familiarity with the different projects in various communities before turning to our own project. We can’t wait to hear more inspiring stories, see the different groups in action, and share all these experiences with you!
GROW team out.
– Menaka Dhingra