Etam Richard, Opar Pi Kuc (Let’s be concerned with peace)
In Uganda, East Africa Team Member Suzan Wilmot was on a site visit to a grantee’s project when a community member told her about the work of Richard Etam and his colleagues. A peace-builder and activist herself, Suzan was intrigued by this small cooperative working to foster peace and equality in the rural community of Okwalogwen.
Not someone to hang around, Suzan immediately traveled on to the project site after finishing up her site visit. At a community meeting in the village, she learned quite how deeply this work was supporting the community. Working as a cooperative, the 12 members of Opar Pi Kuc provide mediation for land issues, domestic violence, and protect the rights of young women who become pregnant at an early age. These issues are all things that disproportionately affect women, and the group strongly advocates for women’s rights and the ownership of land by women.
Suzan says that she was impressed by the group because they are not just mediators, they are also imaginative educators – using storytelling, drama, and sports to educate the community about human rights issues, and to give them the tools to build a more equitable society. She these efforts such as this one as the future of a more united and equal Uganda. This flow fund grant will provide funding for a grinding machine that will allow the cooperative to generate income to support and expand their activities.
It is through grants such as this that we see the value of relationship based grantmaking at the grassroots. Because Suzan was out in these communities doing this work, she became aware of this small, under the radar, project working only around 100 miles from her home. Yet without that chance visit, how would we have ever been able to offer support to this vital work?