After Patrick’s father was taken by rebel soldiers, it fell to the 12-year-old to provide for his family…
Patrick and his family spent many years living in fear of a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Patrick’s father was taken by the LRA when Patrick was just a boy and the family regularly ran to Mount Orom, 5 kilometres away, to hide from the soldiers. They would hastily grab some food and a blanket, knowing that anything left behind would be stolen by the rebels.
At the age of 12, Patrick’s mother showed him his father’s will. There was no wealth to inherit, just a request that Patrick take care of the family.
Weighed down by responsibility
From this day on, Patrick felt a huge sense of responsibility on his shoulders. ‘I can’t remember living the life of a normal, carefree, young person,’ he says. ‘While other children were playing football, I was in the garden growing maize, sorghum, peanuts, cotton and other crops.’ Patrick needed to do this so that the family had enough to eat, and a small surplus to sell to buy essentials like soap, matches and kerosene.
Patrick only attended school in the dry seasons when there was no farming work to be done. After a while, however, he dropped out of school entirely - no longer able to afford the fees for both himself and his brother. Bearing responsibility for his family, Patrick sacrificed his own education so that his brother could continue on to secondary school.
‘Without lessons to attend I had more time to farm and managed to raise £44 to start up a tiny shop in the village selling kerosene, matches and biscuits,’ he says. As part of his enterprise, Patrick was also able to buy a small solar panel that could charge one phone at time. Despite all this, Patrick felt he was not doing enough to fulfil his father’s will. Taking care of his ageing and unwell mother and buying school materials for his brother was difficult, so Patrick leapt at the opportunity to join Kira Farm Development Centre.
Feeling young once again
‘Being at Kira Farm was the best time in my life!’ says Patrick. ‘For the first time ever I didn’t have to worry about anyone else. I’d never played football before, but I was amazed to discover I was good at it,’ he smiles. ‘The fun and laughter at Kira made me feel young again, it even made me look younger!’
Positivity and prayer
‘The journey to Kira Farm felt long, but the journey home felt even longer,’ remembers Patrick. ‘I’d been away from my beloved family for almost a year and I didn’t know what to expect on my return.’ Patrick focussed on the messages of hope he had received at Kira and reminded himself of the success he had achieved during his conservation farming training, as well as the profits he’d made during the business skills training.
Business and building work
When he returned home Patrick discovered his small shop no long existed, so he sat down with his brother and worked out what had gone wrong. ‘I spent a week sharing my business notes and skills with him and now the shop is doing well and my brother is doing a great job,’ he smiles.
Along with a friend from Kira Farm, Patrick set up a carpentry workshop making items to sell. Keen to diversify his income he also looked out for other opportunities. ‘I got in touch with a contractor who was monitoring the building of the main road from Gulu to our town and told him I had been recently trained in construction,’ explains Patrick. Thanks to Patrick’s confidence and good English, he has since been happily employed working as a builder in different districts in Uganda.
Not only is Patrick becoming more experienced in building skills, he has also been able to put the conflict resolution skills he learnt at Kira to good use. ‘I’ve helped solve many of the unending conflicts that occurred at work every day and now I am well liked in the company,’ explains Patrick.
Fulfilling the will of his father
Despite working away from home, Patrick can now provide his family with a better life. With his brother at school, he has employed people to help grow food for them. Patrick is managing to put some money aside and plans, with his savings, to start a wholesale shop in the village so traders do not need to travel so far to buy goods for their shops. The lack of good schools in the area has also inspired him to set up a vocational school like Kira Farm in the future.
Patrick is grateful he is fulfilling his father’s wishes. ‘My life is at peace because I know my father will be smiling down on me as he sees the support I’m providing for the family,’ says Patrick. ‘Thank you Amigos for enabling me to improve my own life and fulfil my father’s wishes.’
Amigos Worldwide is a registered Charity/NGO both in the UK and Uganda.
Amigos Worldwide, Registered in England, Company Number 6122350, Registered Charity Number 1119450
Registered Office 7A Beech Grove, Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1PZ
(Amigos International and Amigos are working names of Amigos Worldwide)