Uncategorised • 2017-01-12 12:22:38
At the age of 22, Concy Apacho, a resident of Apec Division in Gulu district has found a new lease to life. Born to a mother who constantly suffered epileptic attacks, Concy was forced to drop out of school in senior one (S.1), to take care of her sick mother and younger siblings.
“I had seen how hard my mother worked to raise us, educate, feed and clothe us single handedly. So when she became very weak due to her condition, I chose to leave school and work for my family,” Concy narrates.
She tells of how her former school mates laughed at her because she was working as a waitress in small restaurants around town to be able to make ends meet. Many times she broke down and cried because of the continuous insults and ridicule from most community members. And to add salt to the wound, her employers often paid her late, less or did not pay her at all for her services. It was at a time when Concy’s mother deteriorated in health and she sometimes had to watch her mother go without medication or her siblings without a meal due to unpaid wages that she met a one Richard Opige.
Richard Opige is the group leader of Northern Youth Alive Multipurpose Uganda (NYAMU), a community based organization and Rock Point 256 Listening and Action Platform in Gulu district.
“I saw how much she was struggling even before NYAMU became a Rock Point 256 LAP. When we started listening to the radio drama, the young characters in Rock Point made me think about Concy,” says Opige.
In 2013, Opige approached Concy and persuaded her to join NYAMU. Here, she found a new family as they always listened to Rock Point 256 together, related the situations of the youth in the drama to their own, discussed and counseled one another as a group. It was at this time that Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization approached NYAMU as one of the organized youth groups to benefit from their vocational skills development programme.
“Despite the challenges I had faced in life, I still had a lot of interest in education so I took up the opportunity,” says Concy, who graduated with a diploma in tailoring in 2015.
Initially, Concy hired a sewing machine and made clothes for people until she saved enough money to buy her own sewing machine. With time, Concy became a role model for young disadvantaged girls in the community.
“Before we knew it, Concy had signed a contract with Unity for Peace Secondary School in Gulu to make for them sweaters, uniforms and badges,” says Opige.
Her products spoke for themselves and she won contracts from two more schools: Queen International and Annabel Nursery School in addition to making party dresses, chair pillows and other items for individuals on order to supplement her income. Concy’s zeal to work and skills of engagement learnt from Rock Point 256 radio serial drama continue to take her places. She recently got employed by Community Action Fund for Women in Africa, as a Community Assistant Pamba (cotton) garden officer.
In December 2016, Concy was privileged to be among the participants of a refresher training for the Rock Point 256 LAPs trainers in Kampala. She gained knowledge about her responsibilities as a young citizen in getting youth’s ideas heard and implemented in addition to practical skills in making income generating products such as counter books, liquid soap, hair shampoo, doughnuts, half cakes and daddies.
“The group chose Concy to attend this workshop because she has become one of our best trainers in the group and we believe she will pass the skills on to the rest of the group members,” says Opige.
Concy notes that in addition to sharing the skills and knowledge, she will make the products and supply them in Gulu in order to further supplement her income and support her family. “CDFU has been a blessing to me and NYAMU as an organization,” she concludes.