In February 2017, a group of DACA students undertook a trip to Uganda. This is the 3rd time the academy has run the AfriDACA project and past trips have had significant impact on the students and have played an important part in the development of their entrepreneurial and life skills. The team arrived in Uganda well prepared for their first day in which they were visiting the Acholi Quarters – a project which is linked to the Ugandan CRED Partner Nkuru-Nziza Foundation.
On their first full day the group ventured up to the local quarry, where most of the adults in the tribes work, and were shocked at the working conditions and the fact that workers only get paid 25p for 8 hours work. On the same day the AfriDACA teaching group prepared a lesson for the children in the community, and at the end of the day’s session the team received bracelets from a student’s mum which made them feel extremely appreciated in the community.
The next day the students returned to teach at the school again and during lunch they made beads with some of the Acholi ladies. They also visited the homes of the local families and found the women and children were very welcoming and that their houses were small and had very limited facilities. They heard about how the women had fled from their homeland due to violence and were astounded by the level of self-sacrifice for their families.
In one of their lessons the children sang songs about their hopes and dreams for the future. Some of the lyrics to one of the songs were ‘we are ill and we request you to support our education, can’t you see how I am clever, we are struggling for a better life’. The DACA students said the song made them realise how lucky they were to be able to attend school for free.
During the trip the students also travelled to the camping ground at Mityana. Whilst at Mityana, the students went on a walk to the tea plantation to see how the people working there live and realised how little they get paid. The students also taught the equivalent of year 9, 10 and 11 students at the Pioneer Peas School where they compared school life in Britain and Uganda, and heard that the students there went to school from 4am-10pm!
The students also had a visit from Benson who is a trauma counsellor and Founder of an organisation called ILA Uganda. He spoke to them about his own harrowing experiences of the atrocities of the Lords Resistance Army, as well as the severe issue of child soldiers, and how every single person in the Acholi tribe was affected by all of this in some way.
Whilst many parts of Benson’s stories and experiences did not make comfortable listening, his pioneering work has allowed people to start to heal with the possibility of being resettled in their tribal homeland. To date, 76 people in 16 families have been successfully resettled back in the Gulu area, with many more families in the process. The reality of the Acholi people is that up to 11,000 still live as an internally displaced community, and in extreme poverty, in the Acholi Quarter. Benson’s story touched the hearts of the whole team and many of them felt inspired to become involved in his work somehow in the future.
During their week in Uganda the DACA students were also treated to a live performance by a travelling band and played sports with the children in the fields in Acholi. On their return to Kampala, the team also managed to visit a local craft market, where they had the opportunity to practice their bartering skills as they haggled for the best prices for their memories of Uganda.