How do you tell a story that you just couldn’t believe?
We first stumbled across this story in 2007 and this culminated in a desire to make a difference and support two local Ugandans transform their dreams into reality. Now we have a UK team who are just as passionate to help grow this work and make a difference to the district of Gulu in Northern Uganda as those two Ugandans. Together we are making a real difference to the lives of many people in Gulu.
In 2007 Helen Lock took a trip to the North of Uganda to experience something that has changed her life forever. She’d been to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and seen the poverty and how much people struggled living in a city where down one street you had the slums and yet just across the road you would see affluence.
This affected her greatly and many times she would have people come up to her offering their children, to give them a better life in the UK, or young girls asking her to take them out of the slave labour, or to help pay for their education.
This was bad enough to witness, but the trip to Gulu in the north of Uganda really broke her heart.
As soon as the team had reached the small town of Gulu, they could sense a real oppression over the whole place, and yet didn’t understand why. Later they met Pastor James Ochan and his wife Phoebe, who have become very good colleagues and friends and run the Ugandan side of the charity for us.
Pastor James told Helen the history of Gulu, of a war that had been going on since 1986 where children were being abducted, brainwashed and taught to fight from as young as 5 years old. Not only that but their initiation test to join the LRA would often be to kill members of their own family.
How can this be allowed to happen?
Helen says; “I can remember going back to my room and sobbing uncontrollably, saying how unfair and unjust this was.”
James explained the painful time when he was taken to fight on the frontline. Their communities having to flee their homes and live in Internally Displaced People camps (IDP), left with nothing and homes being looted and destroyed. Devastation came upon this town and family life was ripped apart.
Helen felt totally helpless, and yet so much wanted to help make a difference in these people’s lives. After fighting ceased in 2007, Phoebe wanted to bring something back to her community and so with the help of local people and churches she built Bethel nursery school in Paminano.
When they met she told Helen that they had run out of finances to complete the school and the children wouldn’t be able to continue their education. Helen’s instant reaction was these children had gone through enough, we needed to make sure that they continue their education.
There and then Helen committed to Phoebe that we would build the Primary school, but in the back of her mind she didn’t really know how she would do it, but believed it would happen.
With God’s help the team has expanded to a team of passionate people, with differing gifts, that now compliment the work we are doing. Our primary focus is to fulfil the promise of building the Primary school and maintaining it Back then we had 40 children, now there are nearly 600 including some who board with us too.
However this is just the start.
The Gulu Mission Initiative is bigger than one school, one women or one child. The aim is to empower the local people to learn to fend for themselves, to fund the education for thousands of children and for their parents and families. We want to help bring about a positive future for these children, one without pain, fear and sadness.
In 2009 GMI achieved the following;
- Developed the existing school project and develop some sustainability
- Build a fresh water well for a community of 300 people
- Support a school for ex-child soldiers
- Link the school with the British Council
In 2010 GMI achieved the following:
- Built two new primary school classrooms, decorated and furnished them.
- Fenced off the school to protect the children from animals and community issues so they can focus on work.
- Built 2 new teachers homes.
- Led and ran the first Leadership conference.
- Planted 3 acres of sustainable food for the school.
- Developed child sponsorship packages.
In 2011 we…
1. Built 2 more Primary classrooms.
2. Replaced the old kitchen at Bethel with a new one.
3. Held the 2nd Leadership conference.
2012 saw a fantastic climbing frame like nowhere else in Uganda built at our school!
and the launch of our community primary health care training programme in 30 villages in Gulu district. Pont
District children’s’ forum
250 Acholi translated Bibles given out
2015 saw the completion of the primary health care programme. We now have 30 villages, across 3 areas of Northern Uganda with medically trained teams of volunteers regularly called on for advice on a whole range of medical matters. They have access to transport to health professionals if necessary. We are now in the process of applying for grants to expand this training into new areas of the Gulu District.
After reading this we pray that you will take the opportunity and join us on a journey that will change your life forever….
Helen Lock – Director