Innovative projects for refugees, former child soldiers, and host communities in northern Uganda
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Oct 2011 23

Following up Jacob from Don Cheadle’s book: From Torment to Triumph

Posted in Featured, News

From fighting in major battles with the LRA to giving loans to vulnerable people in his community, Jacob has come a long way.  He was profiled in Don Cheadle and John Prendergast’s book, and we have been working with him for five years.  Seeing his transformation has been incredible — a story not only of reintegration, but of veritable growth.

When Jacob was 11 years old rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army  came across his village, Olwal.  They abducted him and  forced him to fight “in five major battles and kill many people.”  One day, while the rebels were camping, Jacob managed to escape.  He made his way back home, only to be re-abducted a few months later.  When he finally escaped for the second time, Jacob was confronted with varying challenges.  His village, Olwal, became a camp for more than 25,000 refugees and “all shared only three boreholes as toilets.”  As a former child soldier, Jacob also faced defamation by other village members.

“…People called you a mad person, and you felt bad.”

Riding the bicycle he bought with his portion of the proceeds

Nevertheless, the community’s perception of Jacob has come a long way. He is no longer marked with stigmata for what he once was and did.

“Before we, [former child soldiers/returnees], were not very close to the community, but GRG has brought us together. Now we feel like brothers and sisters.”

But he knows that social improvement is not the only objective.  As an active participant from the beginning, Jacob has worked on several different projects in his community to fortify it’s economic stability.  He even gives out interest-free loans to vulnerable community members.

“I saw that growing up alone is a big problem. I wanted to help others. People should not look at me as a lone entrepreneur, but rather [as someone who loans to others], so they can work and make their own money. Two people have now started their own produce businesses from my small loans.

Jacob showing his GRG pride!

Through his own words and actions, it is plain to see that Jacob understands the power and spirit of collaboration.  And he undoubtedly appreciates the benefits GRG’s support has created for himself, his family, and the community.

“With the funds from GRG, I have built a hut, and all of my five children are in school. I want to build a big house for my parents, so people will know that someone like me [a former child soldier] can build this. “

Learn more about Jacob in “The Enough Moment” by John Prendergast with Don Cheadle.

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