PAORINHER Sustainability Project
“Where in the world have there been 20,000 kidnapped children? Where else in the world have 90 % of the population in large districts been displaced? Where else in the world do children make up 80 % of the terrorist insurgency movement? For me the situation is a moral outrage. We hope, on the humanitarian side, that we’re now seeing a beginning of an end to this endless litany of horrors, where the children are the fighters and the victim in northern Uganda”.
Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (United Nations News Centre, “UN relief official spotlights world’s largest neglected criticism in northern Uganda” 21 October 2004).
The LRA years have left behind thousands of ophans and vulnerable families, many of whom were HIV positive and shunned by the community. Patongo Orphan Infants Health Rehabilitation (PAORINHER) Centre, a community, a community-based organisation, was established in 2007 against this backdrop provide a safe haven for the orphaned children who were dying in their thousands as a result of war, hunger and disease. Today its mission of providing care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and families living with HIV (FLHIV) is seriously threatened by a lack of secure funding and basic facilities such as beds, sanitation and classrooms.
In October 2017 we visited to PAORINHER with HART. The two biggest problems we noted at PAORINHER and in Agago and Patongo Districts in general are lack food security and access to electricity. Daily life activities – from collecting firewood and water to working the land and caring of the family. This must be done between sunrise and sunset because there is no electricity and darkness is absolute. With only hoes and axes to farm the ravaged land, families headed by old people, single mothers and children cannot gather enough food. Crops are often lost to droughts and floods. Primitive post-harvest processing and storage result in high losses and spoilage. Land itself is an issue: families have lost their agricultural land to neighbours and relatives after twenty-year war; others have forgotten the location and boundary of their lands; child-headed families who lost their parents in the war cannot even trace their land. Support for regeneration is essential. This project supports PAORINHER’s most pressing needs while building a firm foundation for long-term sustainability and growth.
Building a sustainable farm that produces funding for PAORINHER means that we have to buy the land. Here we are talking with the landowner’s entire clan and the farm’s neighbours in a customary land negotiation, to ensure all parties who have an interest are represented. A beautiful day that ended with an informal giving and receiving of symbolic gifts!
Running for PAORINHER
Raymond OKOT, PAORINHER’s founder, is a town planner at Hackney Council. During our visit he set himself a mighty challenge to raise funds for the project: to run 60km in 24 hours in the gruelling heat of Northern Uganda – barefoot…
He managed 7 hours and acquitted himself with honour by ending with the press-up challenge! Watch him as he arrives at PAORINHER Centre.