Meet Akot Vicky
She’s changing the ladies lives.
For those who have spent years with the LRA, returning to normal life and being accepted is a difficult and complex process. When someone associated with the LRA returns to their community, there are a number of interrelated issues that need to be addressed: health and basic needs, psychosocial support, family life, establishing positive relationships, and opportunities for education and income generation. We believe that those involved with the LRA can re-enter their communities and live a productive civilian life if these factors are addressed.
Each of the seamstresses in our MEND program is a former LRA abductee. Recognizing the complexities of this situation, Invisible Children has recently added a new member to the team: Evelyn Lapat, who will work as a new Social Worker for the program.
Evelyn is enthusiastic and full of life. Before joining Invisible Children, she worked for Straight Talk Foundation – Gulu, counseling peers and advising them on matters of their teenage life. She also worked at GUSCO-Gulu Support the Children Organization. During her time at GUSCO, Evelyn was involved in counseling returnee child soldiers, tracing their families and following up after their re-integration into their families.
We recently sat down with her and asked about her plans for the women at MEND.
“From my experience, child mothers affected by war lack self esteem. We need to continue to help them with life skills so that they are confident, this way they get hopeful. I think self-esteem is central to everything you do. It affects your behavior and thoughts. It changes how you feel about and value yourself,” she said.
I’m also looking forward to training them in functional adult literacy.” Evelyn added. “This will empower them – reading and writing will help them manage their money. For instance, basic numeracy is particularly useful for women in managing their agricultural and off-farm enterprises. Women who already know how to read and write can motivate others.”
Evelyn will carry out home visits that will allow her to engage in one-on-one discussions with the seamstresses and get a sense of their lives outside of work. Her goal for the women at MEND is the same as Invisible Children’s: for them to be self-reliant and independent.
-Bernadette (ICU Communications Assistant)
We’re so excited to welcome an honorary member to the MEND family! Monica just gave birth to a baby boy, and named him after Mike, MEND’s current Production Manager. Monica now has five children: Gerad, Sundra, Doren, Ronnie and Mike. She said that baby Mike is going to be her last child, so that she can support the whole family and pay all of their school fees with the money she earns through MEND.
Originally from Kansas City, Mike Drackert has been at MEND for a little less than a year, but has fit perfectly into the MEND family. It’s an honor for Mike to have a namesake as it signifies that friendship can break down cultural differences and divides.
Having a namesake is not to be taken lightly – there are many responsibilities that come along with the honor. For example, it’s customary in Ugandan culture for the person whom a child is named after to periodically visit the baby, extend friendship to the family, be concerned when the baby is sick, attend birthday and religious gatherings, and be a role model and mentor to the baby as it grows.
Good luck to Mike and Baby Mike!
-Nikki (IC Intern in Uganda)