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Former LRA Rebels Reap from Making Face Masks

Up to 35 former child soldiers who attained vocational training in fashion design and garment technology have been contracted by Terra Renaissance, a Japanese based, Non-Governmental Organization to produce face masks.
15 Jul 2020 16:29
Piloya Margaret (L) former captive abducted in 1991 spent 12 years in LRA captivity cutting garments for face masks at Terra Renaissance Gulu Sub-Office - Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 4

Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Northern Uganda are reaping big through the making of face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Up to 35 former child soldiers who attained vocational training in fashion design and garment technology have been contracted by Terra Renaissance, a Japanese based, Non-Governmental Organization to produce face masks.

Each of them makes at least 50 face masks every day from Monday to Saturday and earns up to 200,000 Shillings every week.

The ex-combatants are part of over 450 LRA returnees who abandoned rebellion and returned home between 2000 and 2014, trained by Terra Renaissance in diverse career skills at their resource training centre along Odong Onyango Road in Gulu West Division.

The former LRA abductees have now made over 8,000 face masks which the organization has supplied free to all members of Gulu COVID-19 Task Force, Police, Prions market places and health staff in all lower health centres in Gulu.

Margaret Piloya, a former captive abducted in 1991 spent 12 years in LRA captivity. She that she feels a sigh of relief after being contracted to make face masks which enables her to fend for the family because COVID-19 devastated business prospects.

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Florence Acan, another returnee who spent 18 years in captivity after being abducted by LRA in 1996 says Terra Renaissance has allowed them to make ends meet for her family through the vocational training skills she acquired.

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Jimmy Otema, the Head of Terra Renaissance Gulu Sub-Office disclosed that they engaged the former trainees in exchange for a token of appreciation to enable them to make face masks based on the Ministry of Health guidelines.

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According to Otema, the organization has also transferred its activity funds to undertake risk communication and community engagement through education materials to teach people to safeguard against the virus.

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Gulu COVID-19 Task Force Chairperson Maj. Santo Okot Lapolo who is also the Resident District Commissioner said the intervention of Terra Renaissance and former LRA abductees greatly complements the government effort in the fight against the virus.

Due to shortage of face masks in the community, District Task Forces in Adjumani, Yumbe, and neighbouring Pader, Omoro and Amuru among others have also placed requests to Terra Renaissance to supply them with the masks.

Established in 2006 in Northern Uganda, Terra Renaissance facilitates the reintegration of former child soldiers in the eight districts of Acholi Sub-region.

It provides vocational training, basic education and peace education to ex-combatants and the community at large as well as extending micro-finance and credit facilities to ex-combatants and the poor in their community.