Panel Lokori, the village savings group chairperson during their weekly saving meeting in Bidi-Bidi Settlement. (Credit: Ramadhan Abbey)
Abbey Ramadhan
Journalist @New Vision

REFUGEES | YOUTH | LIFE SKILLS

Gloria Aikoru, 20, a refugee from Bidi-Bidi settlement narrates how she escaped fighting in Nimule, South Sudan, three years ago with her baby. 

She lost everything, including her property and hope while settling into a new life in Uganda.

But her hope was restored when Peace Project introduced the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program in 2021 aimed at training youth in the settlement with life skills.

Aikoru said when the program started, many youth registered for different skills but her dream was in hairdressing where she registered to enrol for three months, completed and given a certificate.

She narrated that before acquiring hairdressing skills, life was hard and getting money was difficult as she used to go and dig for other people.

"After the training, I was boosted with sh200,000 to start my salon and now my hope was restored. Before getting money was difficult but now, I can get between sh100,000-150,000 per day depending on the hairstyle," she appreciated.

Sam Businge, the Project Manager PEACE project, said the program is aimed at addressing problems that hinder peace in the community like early marriages, pregnancies, defilement, rape, torture, poverty, domestic violence, strikes in schools, early loss of parents, among other barriers that hinder community development. (All Photos by Ramadhan Abbey)

Sam Businge, the Project Manager PEACE project, said the program is aimed at addressing problems that hinder peace in the community like early marriages, pregnancies, defilement, rape, torture, poverty, domestic violence, strikes in schools, early loss of parents, among other barriers that hinder community development. (All Photos by Ramadhan Abbey)

Sarafina Attan, 24, one of the beneficiaries of Bidi-Bidi settlement applauded the Government of Uganda for giving a second chance to refugees through such programs.

"With hairdressing skills, I can now look after my children, pay for some school fees and scholastic materials which I didn't before when I used to depend on my husband," Attan said.

Attan added that before saving was hard because they lacked what to do but after acquiring hair skills and starting her business, they saved shs30,000 weekly and that this boosted their income.

"Many youth have been trained in different skills including tailoring skills, carpentry, hire dressing and others,’’ she noted.

Aikoru and Attan were testifying during the ADRA assessment of the first group of over 800 refugee youth in Bidi-bidi Refugee Settlement and host community in Yumbe district who were trained in life skills under the PEACE Project program.

Refugees in their saving group rice plantation.

Refugees in their saving group rice plantation.

PEACE project Uganda is a non-profit making Organization focusing on youth, refugees, women and orphans. 

Its main focus is to create awareness among the youth, women and orphans from underdeveloped families or communities to develop their vision and make their dreams come true.

Speaking to the New Vision Sam Businge, the Project Manager PEACE project, said the program is aimed at addressing problems that hinder peace in the community like early marriages, pregnancies, defilement, rape, torture, poverty, domestic violence, strikes in schools, early loss of parents, among other barriers that hinder community development.

He noted that during the first year, the project has improved food security for 1,865 small hold farmers through block farms and Backyard Garden, improved resilience of 20 community-Saving Groups (591 members), and equipped over 867 Youth (Adolescent girls and boys) with both vocational and life skills.

Youth during hairdressing training.

Youth during hairdressing training.

"The project has also prepared 940 children for Primary Education through home learning,’’ said Busingye.

The project started in 2021 and will run until March 2024, it is being implemented by ADRA in partnership with Bugema University, founded by the Norwegian Embassy, Kampala and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Residents speaks out

John Samuel Bayiga, the LCII cluster in Bidi-Bidi Refugee settlement, appreciated the effort done by ADRA for skilling youth saying the training is timely and it will help youth to improve their livelihoods.

Richard Idru, ADRA community base facilitator, said so far, they have supported groups with high-breed goats of which many are expected to multiply for each group member to rear for future sale.

Hassan Idrosan, who was trained in catering said he is now a self-reliant person and earns a living by providing service within the settlement.

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