Friday, 24 February 2017

'A place of thugs and thieves' is how Tito* described where I was standing back in 2010. 'When we heard you were visiting we said to ourselves "will they really come?"'. Despite the bad reputation of Owii in Uganda I didn't feel afraid. Instead I felt inspired by the story of this community.

'This place was isolated, there was no education here.  Most children were not going to school – it was too far. We were worried about our children being kidnapped for child sacrifice'.

However as a result of church and community transformation (CCT) the community started to make the most of their own small resources to bring change. 'One of our church members gave some land and we've now made 5 classrooms. Each household contributes 3,500 Ugandan Shillings per term ($1) to pay the teachers. There are 151 children at the school. The children are happy about the school as they do not have to walk so far'.

The classrooms were simple grass-roofed huts but their plans were bigger. ‘We are seeing that we are going to develop more than this.  We plan to have permanent buildings.  We will talk with the government to see if they can help us’.

Now travel in time with me to 2017. The next time I hear about Owii I am standing in a black jacket and yellow tie at the UK Houses of Parliament. It's a rare event, me wearing a tie, but suitable for this event. This time Owii is featured in a film (link to film).

Photo by Andrew Philip, Tearfund

The community now has those brick built classrooms they had dreamed of. The local government has also built teacher's houses, cleared roads, vaccinated children and dug boreholes for water. This has all happened through linking CCT and advocacy. As a result the Owii community has been helped to effectively persuade local government to provide the services they need.

It's a story to celebrate. Could you help the communities you work with to link with their local government and celebrate too?

*Name changed for privacy. 

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