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After the conflict I had nothing

Bosco is a farmer in Uganda who has been supported by VSO's YELG project Ginny Lattul

Bosco Onyaobo, formerly lived in an IDP camp and was left with nothing after the war. He has now built a sustainable business and is able to support his family.

Northern Uganda has long struggled with development after years of conflict. Many children and young people were displaced during the fighting and their education suffered. VSO volunteers are working in the Gulu region of Uganda, supporting young people access a range of employment, educational and agricultural training opportunities. Helping put lives back on track.

Chairman of the Lacan Kow Lewet cooperative, Bosco Onyaobo, explains how the project has transformed his life.

Living through conflict

Gulu has changed a lot in the past few years.  There used to be rebels everywhere. If they caught you, you were killed. Or you were abducted and trained into becoming a rebel and a killer.

I lived in an internally displaced people’s (IDP) camp for nearly 20 years. Life in the camp was very difficult. I would only eat once in two days. If I had wanted to go back to the village to collect firewood for cooking then I might get killed or abducted. I heard gunshots everywhere. I would hear about my friends either being killed or taken. Bombs would explode. Even if someone was able to move on a road without rebels, they might step on a landmine.

I heard gunshots everywhere. I would hear about my friends either being killed or taken

People weren’t sitting around households talking, as we are doing today as a farming cooperative. People would just whisper.

Leaving the camp with nothing

I left the IDP camp when I was 33. I came back to the village with nothing but cooking utensils, my wife and my children.

I joined the Lacan Kow Lewet group and things really started to change. I implemented all the training we were given; crop rotation, animal management, disease identification, business training, group management and Village Savings and Loans Association training to help with income generating activities.

I bought a few chickens and treated them in the way I was trained. Now I have 10 goats and over 30 chickens. I got a motorbike, which helps me transport my produce from the garden to the market.  I started with one acre of land and now I have seven.

YELG project Uganda supports young people to earn a sustainable living Ginny Lattul

Young people have been empowered to expand their businesses into log term sustainable enterprises.

Being part of a cooperative

Being in a group like this means a lot to me.  Before, I didn’t have any friends. I just stayed alone but here in this group I have built up friends and connections.

We are all united and now when one person has a problem it becomes all our problem. We support each other. We think like a business. You can’t compare what we make as a group to what someone makes when farming on their own. We know that poverty can be greatly reduced when everyone starts working very hard.

A brighter future for my family

Today, I can sleep in my own house. I can employ people to work in my land. My five children are going to school and I can also support my late sister’s two children. Maybe in the future I can buy an ox and plough. 

I had nothing and now I’m earning good money. I expect a lot more to come.  We will continue to work hard until everyone can afford what he or she needs. 

Inspired by Bosco's story? Find out more about using your business and management skills to support communities around the world. 

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