Carol Bellamey, the former head of UNICEF, has called northern Uganda the largest child-focused emergency in the world. After two decades of brutal conflict in Uganda, during which violence against young people and the recruitment of child soldiers became widespread, many of Uganda’s children and youths have never known peace. Over the past few years, however, a relative peace has emboldened communities to move toward recovery and development with determination. The Uganda Fund, a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) member organization, is seizing this opportunity for sustainable development in northern Uganda to foster education, training, and leadership among war-affected youth.
Jessica Huber, the project director for the Uganda Fund observes, "One of the most amazing things about northern Uganda is the ambition of the youth." Working with funding and implementing partners, the Uganda Fund is supporting local organizations that develop long-term projects that have the potential to nurture youth at the community level and build a stronger future for the children of Uganda. One of these local projects is the Pader Girls Academy, which was created for girls whose lives have been affected by sexual violence and who could not be accepted at formal government schools. The Pader Academy allows them to receive an education while they care for their children in a supportive environment.
Caroline Awenyo, a student at the Pader Girls Academy, says the school has given her a confidence and opportunity she didn’t have before: "We are free...at the end of the day you know you don’t have to go back to your past. You should make a future."
The Uganda Fund has already provided scholarships, vocational training, and grants for care-giving and livelihood support throughout the region. As it scales up its CGI commitment, the Uganda Fund will provide mentorship, education, training, and economic opportunities to more than 10,000 young women affected by war in northern Uganda.
Allen Rock, chair of the Uganda Fund says, "We see the Clinton Global Initiative as enabling us to take what we’ve got in northern Uganda and scale it up to a point where it could make a really significant difference."