Karamoja is a very special area in Uganda–unique in the high rate of desertification, and in so many elements of their distinctive culture. Since the area is very dry, and violent cattle raids have continued at a steady rate, the area has been marginalized and it’s only recently that distinct progress has been seen.
Family Care Uganda (FCU) has undertaken a number of projects in Karamoja: One of which was when FCU staff members Nyx Martinez and Robin Yamaguchi took a 10 ton truck packed with clothing, food and other aid to Karamoja, specifically to Nakapiripirit, where Grace Lolem (herself an educated Karimojong) had established a very needy camp of widows and children with KOSH her NGO. Grace had helped arrange with the Kampala City Council for many of the widows and their children who were living in desperate circumstances on the streets of Kampala to be relocated to a camp there.
The bedding, extremely warm jackets, shoes and clothing were brought to the grateful widows and their children. Aid was also delivered to the local prison and many of the local needy Karimojong community.
FCU has held yearly events and fundraisers for orphans and the needy, but one year, rather than holding a special day for orphans at the local amusement park (for 450 children), the team helped to organize a special drive to be able to take Christmas gifts to Karimojong widows and children instead. A number of supermarkets and venues throughout Kampala collaborated by placing drop boxes for donations at their facilities, and the local community responded generously.
The result was a fully packed 10-ton truck with mattresses, toys, clothes, and food. In order to streamline the distribution process, the items were pre-packaged by FCU staff and volunteers, to ensure that each mother could receive a balanced amount of food, sugar, posho (local staple), beans, etc. Flavored water was a major hit, and in all, the donations were extremely appreciated.
Since Christmas is a time of giving, we talked with our Karimojong friends about drawing a thank you card for us to bring back to many of the donors in Kampala. At first, children eagerly grabbed the pencils and papers, but then the older women and even warriors took paper and pencil in hand to draw thank you notes. It was a wonderful experience to have such a heart-warming time with this special people!