Living Hope

Women are the most marginalized and wounded people in Africa. Through Watoto’s Living Hope program in Uganda, vulnerable women receive crucial support that enables them to stay alive and care for their children. Check out Watoto’s initiatives and get inspired to partner with us to see positive impact in the hurting world.




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The Remains of the Decade

Amin, Idi, former president of Uganda (1971-1979), also known as Idi Amin Dada, is known for his brutality and disregard human life that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Not to mention plunging the country into chaos and poverty.

At least that’s what we see in retrospect.

But during Amin’s rule, he was a charismatic man who saw himself as more hero than villian, more king than knave.

Recently while documenting the recovery and transition in Northern Uganda, I stumbled upon the remains of his presidential palace.
A structure he built in Agoro, Lamwo District  bordering Sudan right at top of the Imatong mountain ranges.  His Government’s presidential Palace was constructed as his residence and also strategically positioned for military defense purposes.
The structure was deemed “nothing less than a palace”, made of strong stone walls, with “a handsome flight of steps leading to his throne seat”. Most locals noted the building was “large and convenient” but not handsome.

Being there was quite chilling, and just reminded me of the blood shed in the name of vanity.

A Flight of stairs leading to Idi Amin's throne seat.

In front of the palace was a scenic and incredible view.

The scenic view of Lamwo Mountain, Agoro.

The remains of the Presidential Palace.

Imatong Mountain ranges

I guess with all his brutality and disregard for Human life,  He could not cover up Uganda’s natural beauty.

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Cingi Aye Lonyoni (Your hands are your richness)

There must be something irresistible about traditional food.

Auma Sylvia is frying the seeds from the shea butter tree also know ans the ''Yaa'' tree. Lacekocot, Atanga.

If you consider yourself “open minded”  here is one thing that might be high on your list. MOYA, It is a delicacy that comes from a shea butter tree and according to the Acholi tribe it is irresistible.

The Yaa tree

It is a roasted food-oil and a cold-pressed cosmetic-grade shea butter which can be used to add flavor to all kinds of foods.

Atoo pilisana preparing MOYA in Atanga, Pader District. Moya is an acholi delicacy that flavours the food.

The security situation has had drastic repercussions on the Moya production, and much of the harvest was wasted on the ground due to displacement of the Acholi people. Sheanuts had disappeared from the town markets, and prices for sheanut on rural markets had shot up to five times the normal rate.

Women returnees of Atanga IDP showing how much hard work they put in Moya production.

Atoo grinding shea butter roasted seeds. After grinding the seeds are then boiled until it's ready. Atanga, Pader District.

Moya ready to be packed and taken to the market.

Ladies selling Moya at a local market in Atanga, Pader district.

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Top Shelf

Hey there….

First of all…I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who shares this blog or tweets about it, or does something humanitarian-ish as a result of it.

Soooooooooo……I thought I’d share my favorite pics with you in a little slideshow….

Most of these pics are part of a traveling exhibit that showcases the work being done in Northern Uganda.

Enjoy, discuss, share!

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Taking back our WEALTH

Acholi people are almost exclusively cattle herders. Being rich for a man meant primarily having many cattle as well as MANY WIVES.

Northern Uganda suffered a systematic loss of cattle in the late 80’s. Almost the entire stock of Acholi wealth (250,000 cattle) were taken by LRA rebels.

Restoring lost animal husbandry skills and restocking  livestock are central to rebuilding local livelihoods.

This picture was taken by one of my students, Catherine Lunyolo.

The man in the picture is Oulle. He doesn’t actually own any of his own cattle, but grazes other people’s cattle for money.


Rehabilitation of Livestock markets are on the increase in Kitgum and Pader districts, The opening of markets in neighboring Sudan has greatly boosted cattle trade, and Kitgum District in particular has experienced a boom in its cattle population.


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Mushroom ShaBOOM!

Forget spending the last few months of her pregnancy nesting, and planning a nursery…..Lilly Rose will most likely  cultivate mushrooms to sell until the labor pains set in.

But, this is nothing unusual in these parts of Ugnada. Woman do the majority of the farming as most are widows and need to provide for their children.

Lily knows this, which is why she continues to work so hard throughout her pregnancy.

She is a member of  “Lacan Yenyo Kuc“, which means  means “a poor person looking for Peace“. These women are war returnees and have found not only a means to survive through their business, but also a fellowship of support.

Many mushrooms are sold fresh to retail outlets in Alango Trading center. Marketing of fresh mushrooms presents particular problems as they should be consumed within three or four days of harvesting to avoid spoilage. Often they are harvested in the day and sold during the early hours of the following morning, or delivered directly to buyers.

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Sick To My Stomach…..

Visiting hospitals in Northern Uganda is one of those experiences that renders you speechless…literally.

Not just because of the appaling conditions and near corpes filling the “wards”….but becuase of the ghosts of its past.

The hospital I visit in Kitgum was built in 1938. And from then until the early 80’s things were good…they had FIVE doctors. But things fell apart during the two decades of civil war that crippled the Northern region.

The LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) targeted hospitals and health units in Kitgum to obtain drugs and abduct  medical personnel.

The hospital treated over 15,000 children and 10,000 adults per month during the brutal conflict and “Night Commuters” would flood the wards every afternoon as they fled attacks by the LRA.

Today, Kitgum Government Hospital is the referral hospital for the Pader and Kitgum districts and is the only secondary health-care facility providing free services for a population of over 700,000 (many just returning to their villages after years of displacement).

Think about this next time you seek medical help…..During the conflict, the hospital’s operation theatre could no longer be used because the ceiling had fallen through; there were no operating tools like blades, supplies like anesthesia and power to perform emergency surgeries….CRAZY…..

But thank fully the ICRC has supported major construction and renovation work on the hospital’s theatre, electrical, water and sewage systems and in the pharmacy, the laboratory and the maternity ward.

But….there is still a ways to go…..

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