Since 2007 Grassroots Reconciliation Group has worked with 1200 people directly. In addition, by supporting groups, our projects have had a reach of over 5000 people in the communities of northern Uganda. GRG has distributed hundreds of animals, helped parents send over 1000 children to school and seen new business leaders emerge to start and expand more than 500 businesses. We have logged over 2000 hours in the field doing trainings with the groups GRG assists and since 2007, individuals in GRG microfinance groups have saved over 50 million shillings, (16,650 USD).
GRG conducted a 2011 project survey when Phase 1 groups graduated to self-sustaining projects. This is what we learned…
Sending children to school: Our participants used to ask us, “give us money to send our kids to school.” Now, they take the money that the projects generate and send their own children to school!
GRG parents sent 612 children to school in 2011 using income from GRG projects, or 89% of all school-aged children of GRG beneficiaries.
Starting new small businesses: Our participants started 196 new individual businesses as a result of GRG’s skill training and revenues from our projects that they then took. These include organic farming, restaurants, and cell phone charging enterprises, animal raising businesses, small grocery stores, and more.
Turning child soldiers into leaders: 48% of ex-combatants were elected or given leadership roles by their respective groups. The positions – including chairpersons, secretaries, treasurers, mobilizers, and advisers – represent trust being placed in these individuals and their social growth.
Learning new skills: Participants developed new skills in advanced organic farming, conflict resolution, leadership, small business animal husbandry, entrepreneurship, microfinance, and savings through GRG training courses.
Improving relationships: Beneficiaries – both former child soldiers and other community members – strongly agreed (4.76/5) that working with GRG had improved relationships within the group over the past 5 years and also agreed (4.45/5) that their relationship with the community at large had also improved, showing a great sense of both reconciliation and reintegration within the target communities.
Increasing savings through microfinance: 87% of participants were able to save money using our microfinance program, on average saving $12.52 per month.
Resolving conflicts: Beneficiaries reported using a series of new skills to resolve conflicts, including gathering as a family, seeking the advice of elders, or requesting for a Local Counsellor to address the issue. This shows that group members have access to conflict resolving mechanisms and that traditional cultural value and protocol norms are being honoured and followed.
Increasing trust: 99% of respondents feel ‘very free’ to visit each other’s homes, with similar figures for returnees and other community members. These statistics show a high level of comfort and interaction between group members.