When Lango Women's Aspirations Visited Us
Updated: Jan 2
As we closed down the curtains of 2022, a group of incredible Lango women on a journey to support each other and give back to communities called the Lango Women’s Aspiration (LWA) made their maiden and a purposeful trip to Okere. The group arrived just in time for lunch and they were treated to a sumptuous lunch with dry and roasted duck meat, kwon kal, and sweet potatoes as main meals. Immediately after lunch, they entered our community hall as Coo-loye, an okeme choir performed a welcome song. Aero-Kwan Women’s group later performed an electric traditional abuda dance to the cheering and excited guests and 80 community members in attendance. Welcoming the guests, Ojok Okello gave a brief background of Okere City, listing some of the major projects, such as the community school, tailoring center, shea butter cooperative society, and health center, among others. He also noted that Okere City’s success over the past three years stems from a reciprocal and respectful relationship with the community members which is purely based on trust. “Trust is our most important currency”, Ojok said, adding that, “Okere City simply adds value and projections to the authentic community voices and ideas of the people in the village”. He also expressed his gratitude to the team from LWA before inviting Janet Abaneka, an educationist working with UNICEF who led the group.
Mrs. Abaneka was impressed with Okere City’s bold vision of building a sustainable village. More so, she took the audience through the SDGs which are boldly painted on the side wall of our community hall. From Goal 1 which aims to end extreme poverty to Goal 17 which aspires to strengthen global partnerships and collaborations, Janet was optimistic that Okere City is providing a practical example that these lofty SDGs aren't just about UN and government bureaucrats and politician to understand, but also for local communities to appreciate and fully comprehend. “I have witnessed for myself that Okere City is indeed a community of practice that everyone who cares about the attainment of the SDGs must be interested in”, she said.
Janet Abaneka addressing community members in Okere
Furthermore, Janet highlighted in her remarks that LWA was proud to be associated with Okere City because one of the platform’s cardinal objectives was to support and give back to rural communities in Lango, especially to rural girls and women. “That’s why we are here today. To let the women in Okere know that they are not alone in their struggle and quest to uplift themselves out of despair and hopelessness caused by the LRA war, Karamojong cattle rustling, among others”, she reiterated. It is on this premise that she announced that LWA members had donated dozens of clothes and shoes to the women and children of Okere. This was received with thunderous applause and ajira from the women of Okere who were in attendance. Moreover, a cash gift of UGX 600,000 ($150) was also handed over to the women to be utilized as a start-up grant for an income-generating activity of their choice.
While receiving the gift, Scovia Abwango, the Chairperson of Aero-Kwan Women's group didn't only express her gratitude but also reiterated that the support means that the small efforts of the ordinary women in Okere to reimagine a better future for themselves and their children is being appreciated and recognized by the outside world. "This means that we are also now going international", Scovia jokingly stated.
Scovia Abwango, Chairperson of Aero-Kwan Functional Adult Literacy Class.
Very importantly, the team also donated 200 books to our community school. The books will go a long way to enrich our community library and enable the children in Okere to access quality learning tools.
LWA members donating books to Okere Community School
The “formal talks” quickly ended to pave way for more exciting activities in the evening. Mr. Okello took the guests around the “city” giving more details and responding to questions. Questions revolved around the inspiration behind the project, source of funds, key successes, and major challenges thus far. Ojok ably answered the questions, noting among others that Okere City is indeed on a journey to build a sustainable rural city and hopes to present a practical case study and success story by 2030 as the world comes together to take stock of the progress towards the attainment of the SDGs. He also noted that whilst initial investments injected into the project came from a family trust, major donors, such as the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Segal Family Foundation and Stanbic Bank are finding noble reasons to invest in the project albeit still minuscule in nature. “But we hope that soon, major donors and investors shall find more reasons to invest in our cause as the value for money as clear to see”, Ojok said.
Ojok Okello taking the guests through a tour of Okere City
The evening ended with a boxing tournament, although some of the guests tried to cover their eyes not to have a full glimpse of how the boxers were exchanging punches. But thanks to our local musicians whose okeme, adungu and drums played some of the most amazing cultural tunes that endeared the guests to join the local community as we traditionally danced the evening away! The evening was spent at Guum’s Kitchen drinking spice tea and telling tales about the village and the magnificence of Shea butter. It was a long day, but certainly not the end of business!
In the morning, even before breakfast, Kay Achak, another member of LWA, who actually proposed the Okere Community Outreach project idea to the group had better plans. The previous evening, we invited our women to come and participate in a practical liquid soap-making process. By 9 am, 80 women had descended to Okere City and they had already filled the community hall. Kay started the theoretical session by taking the women through each and every step and spelling out what items were required and in which quantities. Then the women were brought to an open space to start the practice of liquid soap making, with each one taking turns to mix the ingredients. of After two hours, the process had ended and soap was made. But it had to be left to settle for 1 hour for the final product to come out really well. The break time was used to grab a cup of milk tea, fried Irish potatoes, and ‘rolex’. And oh, the remains of boyo from the previous evening added a traditional touch to the breakfast.
Practical soap-making session
After breakfast, the liquid soap had fully cured and was ready for use. All the 80 women in attendance got plastic bottles and each was served with 300mls of a sweetly-scented-green-colored liquid soap. There were words of gratitude to LWA in every corner of our city. As Okere women boarded our ‘city truck’ to attend celebrations for opening a festive market in the next village, they were fully convinced that other Lango women around the world truly care and love them.
We are full of gratitude to Lango Women’s Aspirations for epitomizing the meaning of generosity and choosing Okere City as a recipient of their heartfelt kindness.