It is a struggle for many former LRA child-soldiers who have returned home to make ends meet. With many of them living as single mothers and lacking formal education and jobs, access to quality health care, educating their children as well as obtaining good feeding is almost a myth. But Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) recently rolled out an interest free, micro-credit intervention to help the former abductees overcome those challenges.

 The project was launched on Monday June 17. At least three groups that are founded and run by former LRA child-soldiers received the first batch of the loans to a tune of Shillings 5 million. The pioneer groups included Ribe Aye Teko Women’s Group of Layibi Division, Laliya Young Stars of Laliya Sub-County and Can Ogura Youth Group of Punena in Bungatira Sub-County.

 Speaking at the launch, YOLRED’s Programme Director, Geoffrey Omony, said that after studying the circumstances of the former child-soldiers, they realized that there was need to empower them in order to create room for universal development. Omony said that it is in the interest of YOLRED to see that the development that people talk about start with each individual household.

 “There cannot be development when someone is still sleeping hungry, their children cannot go to school and they cannot access medication when they fall sick,” he said.

 He however, said they were not giving the money as business foundations, but only adding onto what the groups already started. Omony appealed to the beneficiaries to put to good use the funds so that the benefit is made sustainable and not just a one-time thing.

 Hon. Patrick Ojara, a Local Councilor III for Layibi Division, said while the government has occasionally come up with similar empowerment programmes, it has not catered for such group of people because politicians either direct the funds to people close to them or the money gets embezzled. Ojara added that he was pleased that YOLRED was delivering to help those marginalized groups. He appealed for an expansion of the fund to other areas too.

 While Hon. Mary Labella Atyeno, a Local Councilor III for Laliya Sub-County said that YOLRED’s work with Laliya Young Stars has had a very huge impact on the members. “This group started as a group of drunkards and useless former abductee that many people despised but today, we can confirm as leaders that they have greatly transformed. Many people now want to join them,” Atyeno said.

 Hon. Collins Lawoko, another Local Councilor III for Laliya said that he was impressed by YOLRED’s choice of giving interest-free loans. “Many times, institutions give loans to people in the name of helping them but at the end, they leave the people with even bigger problems as they demand for very high interest rates,” Worst of all, many of them keep expanding the interests over delayed payments and sometimes even take property of those that take longer to pay, thereby increasing poverty instead of alleviating it.

 Ms. Ida Akongo, a former child-soldier and Chairperson of Ribe Aye Teko Women’s Group, said the loan was a huge support towards their endeavors for a better life. “Many of us struggle to keep our children in school and meet other family needs because, with our small businesses, we cannot take all the capital and pay in school. But with this money, we are going to be able to expand our businesses, get more profits and meet our needs without much troubles,”

Collins Odokonyero, the Chairperson for Laliya Young Stars, said when they started their Saving and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS) years back, they had the vision to grow it to a level that would enable them support vulnerable women in the community as well as single mothers, but they struggled to grow their capital. “Now that YOLRED has come to support us, we hope that this vision will come to pass,” Odokonyero said.




At the peak of rape, robbery and violent attacks, especially on women in Library Parish, Layibi Division in Gulu Municipality, the community was engulfed in fear and hopelessness. Women could not walk out of their houses past sun-set if they were to avoid rape and attacks. Those in business had their property and money robbed even in broad day light by a known gang who threatened them with violence or murder. And yet both the police and local leaders could not help the situation.

On Saturday, April 20, Youth Leadership for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) organized a community dialogue, ‘Kabake’ where the community was granted a platform to share their experiences and derive a solution. The dialogue was attended by, among others, local council leaders, the police, child rights activists, business men and women, and the general community.

Mrs. Beatrice Ayat, a member of the local council and secretary for community service and production, who represented the division chairperson,  said the situation in the area had gotten out of hand because the perpetrators of the violent crimes who started as children and would only steal from people, had grown up and gained confidence to attack directly.

Ayat said because of that, they would openly rob people or rape women and threaten them that they would be beaten or their houses would be torched if they reported anywhere.

“I am so thankful to YOLRED for organizing this dialogue. When we have a problem in our community and we meet and discuss, we can always find a solution,” Ayat said.

The officer in charge of Layibi Division police station, Assistant Inspector of Police (AIP) Wilbert Adekere, said as police, they have been aware of the insecurity in the area but could not take any action because no member of the community was opening up to tell them who the perpetrators were.

Adekere consequently invited members of the affected community to secretly walk into his office and tip him on any security problem.

Honourable Rose Aparo, a member of the local council, said she was going to forward the people’s plight to the council for discussion. She expressed confidence that the council would arrive to a logical conclusion that would save the community.

Mr. Odong Walter (We-yoo), the Community Sensitization Officer, said he was going to meet with the area Local Councilor One (LC1) and his executives to forge a lasting solution to the problem.

Collins Chwa Kisembo, the Counsellor and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at YOLRED, appreciated the community for attending the meeting in large numbers.


Day of Prayer and Action for Children

Pupils of Aswa Camp Primary School celebrated in a special way with YOLRED the International Day of Prayer and Action for Children. YOLRED supported the School with text books, exercise books, balls, School Atlas, and teacher's guide to help improve on the academic excellent of the Pupils

August 27th Update

I am pleased to announce that YOLRED, the first platform for Child soldier reintegration and rehabilitation in Africa that is owned and run by the former combatants themselves, is officially launched and up and running. Our work with the YOLRED team in Uganda ended with a public gathering to celebrate the official launch of the platform.

The team was able to share their vision with the public and was received with support from the community and different official stakeholders, NGO's and religious institutions. You can download the brochure that was distributed at the launch event here

It has been an honour to see the fruit of over four years of hard work come to a big milestone, see the members of YOLRED rise and start to carry out a vision they have had on the inside for years.

Currently we are supporting the team in enacting their communications and outreach plan for both local and international supporters. In particular, we are providing some consultative support over the next two weeks to help them create their own website as an ongoing place of information and updates from YOLRED. Watch for an announcement in the next newsletter for the new website!

Now lies a lot of hard but exciting work for YOLRED, but with great support from the Goldin Institute, Arigatou International and wise partners on the ground, the team feels equipped and empowered, ready to reach out to their communities. We are very excited to follow the team’s progress in this coming period.

August 20th Update

The Uganda team is working late hours these days with Team Anorak to be ready for the launch of YOLRED that will take place in only 6 days. The team is mobilising the community though many visits to local leaders and various sites in northern Uganda, they are also putting final touches on their leadership structure and preparing all the details for the launch next Saturday.  We hope you enjoy these photos from today's meetings

August 19th Update

Along with my colleague Morten, I am pleased to share an update from our first week here in Gulu, Uganda with our partners from the emerging organization, Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED). We are inspired by the wisdom, creativity and passion that the former child soldiers of Uganda bring to the leadership of creating and managing their own organization. For the first time, former child soldiers themselves will determine their own strategies for reintegration and prevention.

To help finalize the organizational design, we have facilitated several workshops, helping the YOLRED team clarify and document the mission, vision and principles of this new organization.

We have also together made great progress in defining the organizational structure and plan to ensure that these young leaders will have the platform and support they need to acheive their ambitious mission.

These discussions with the YOLRED leaders have been informed by a wide range of key stakeholders including leading NGO’s, government offices, religious leaders and family members.

We can see the work over the past week has been crucial on two parallel levels. First, through our conversations with community partners, we are raising awareness and enthusiasm among the stakeholders in the area. At the same time, this highly creative processes with the YOLRED team is designing solutuions to the missing pieces of their strategy and bringing a deep and inspiring cohesion and shared vision with the team.

We look forward to keeping you updated as we move towards the public launch of YOLRED in the coming weeks.  To get invovled, please show your support at our page.

If you have questions or suggestions, we're happy to hear for you.


Anders and Morten, Team Anorak