'My past will not define my future'

Geoffrey’s family, once flourishing, lost everything during the war. Today, thanks to Geoffrey’s time at Kira Farm Development Centre, the family are back on their feet and this enterprising young man is helping the community

Geoffrey was born into a happy, thriving, successful family. His father was a well-known builder and, unlike many families, he managed to provide for young Geoffrey and his six siblings.

As the family were relatively well off they didn’t do much farming, instead they paid other people to grow food on their land. When war broke out with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) the family’s comfortable life was transformed overnight. They had to move into an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp where they were supposed to be safe, however Geoffrey’s sister was killed during an LRA raid on the camp. It was a devastating blow for the family.

Heavy drinking

In deep sorrow Geoffrey’s father turned to heavy drinking and, by the end of the war, he had become an alcoholic. As a result of his addiction he was unable to secure building contracts as he had in the past and the family struggled for money. ‘The war changed our family forever,’ says Geoffrey. ‘I had to learn how to work on people’s land to get money for school fees for me and my siblings, it was very hard.’

Self-pity to positivity

When Geoffrey won a place at Kira Farm Development Centre he realised it was his golden ticket to a better life. ‘The training at Kira Farm gave me a better attitude towards work,’ he says. ‘When I laboured at home it felt like a burden, but on Kira I learned to do everything with joy. Kira also helped me appreciate the life God has given me.’

Consumed with self-pity, Geoffrey had been blinded to any thoughts of a better future. ‘Once I heard about the terrible pasts of my fellow-trainees I realised I had nothing to complain about,’ he explains. ‘By the time I left Kira I was positive about life and full of ideas to improve my future.’

Helping his father

On his return Geoffrey was keen to help his father. ‘While on Kira I prayed to God to give me the patience and knowledge to help my father stop drinking,’ he explains. ‘It has not been an easy journey but my father is changing a lot.’ Geoffrey’s father has cut back on his drinking and has agreed to accept Geoffrey’s help in managing the finances for any building contract he gets. Three months ago they won a building contract for a two-storey building and by the end of the contract they will have made £666.

Farming God’s Way

Thanks to Geoffrey’s support all of his brothers are back in school now. When they are not building, Geoffrey and his family are practising Farming God’s Way (conservation farming), something which has taken them a bit of getting used to. ‘When I introduced this type of farming to my parents they complained that it was really hard work,’ he laughs. ‘However, after seeing our last harvest, which was so big, everyone is impressed and wants to do it again.’

Geoffrey has also teamed up with another Kira Farm graduate, Bernard, and together they have opened up a carpentry workshop where they are training two youths in carpentry skills, passing on the skills they acquired at Kira Farm. He is also in a village savings group (a traditional bank would be inaccessible to Geoffrey), and is helping his father re-register his construction company so that they can bid for local building contracts which will help provide employment for others. ‘My past will not define my future,’ smiles Geoffrey.


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