For more than 30 years, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, terrorized the northern region of Uganda and murdering its people. It is estimated that the LRA has abducted more than 67,000 adolescents to use as child soldiers, sex slaves and porters. Organizations like Golden Women Vision are giving hope back to the citizens of Uganda.
The Destruction Left Behind
Golden Women Vision works to improve the social-economic status of the people left vulnerable from the insurgency. Even after the conflict ended, the terror continued for many victims. Women were left battered and lost, some without limbs or living with bullet wounds. Widows were left without husbands and single mothers had their children taken by the LRA. These women were at a disadvantage for even basic survival.
“The real victims are the many who are in dire need of even finding what they need to eat on a daily basis,” said Joyce Freda Apio, a Kampala-based transitional justice expert, regarding how the insurgency left many without a source of income and stability.
Giving Women Hope
Sylvia Acan was one of those women severely affected by the insurgency. She lost her family to the conflict and was sexually assaulted at the age of 17. Acan had to marry her attacker when she learned she was pregnant. In an effort to learn to provide for herself, Acan signed up with a nongovernmental organization called Caritas. Caritas trained women affected by the conflict in catering services to help them recover and reintegrate with society.
By 2008, Acan learned how to bake, gained business skills and realized the importance of financial savings. She also realized her skills could positively impact the lives of women around her. The traditionally patriarchal society of northern Uganda limited the potential of women. Many females affected by the insurgency were stuck in the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.
Golden Women Vision
Sylvia Acan is the founder and director of Global Women Vision. She started the organization to change the futures of these women. The community-based organization trains women and girls with income-generating skills like baking, making soap or creating paper beads. With 84 members since its beginnings in 2011, the Golden Women Vision helps victims regain a sense of control and sufficiency. She states that she will “spend the rest of her life on this earth” creating activities and possibilities for the survivors of that brutal time.
Golden Women Vision works to provide women the skills and knowledge necessary for self-sustenance. By teaching women how to create financial independence and security through their own means, they can be more successful throughout life. By forging a positive future and peace within the community, the organization not only teaches the women how to financially survive but also builds bonds with each other.
“There is no one helping us so we are helping ourselves,” Acan said. “The world should see what women are capable of doing.”
– Jenny S Park