May 18th, 2012 5:57 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
As world leaders meet in the United States for the annual G8 summit, Lotukoi Peter, a young man from Karamoja, Northern Uganda tells the youth-led development agency Restless Development about his message to the G8.
Photo: Restless Development/PCI
I was born in Lorukumo village and my parents took me to Lobuneit Primary school where I went until I was 11 and then dropped from school due to lack of school fees. I started idling around the community, taking alcohol from morning or involved in cattle raid planning and activities.
I abandoned cattle raiding as now I know the importance of peace in the development of my community. I used to participate in
cattle raids but now I have learnt that raids are bad. Many young people used to die during the raids and I am now involved in commercial vegetable growing with my fellow group members and this project has been very helpful to me.
When Restless Development volunteers started working in Kidepo parish, they mobilised young people into a group which I joined. I started learning about issues of sexual health, how to make a living and peace. I enjoyed the sessions and committed myself to the group in which I gained more knowledge in supporting my family and the community.
Through the sessions delivered I learnt about vegetable gardening, I went ahead and established a commercial vegetable garden. The garden has helped me in getting household income, for example when one of my family members gets sick, I use part of the money saved from the sale of vegetables to provide treatment. Besides part of the savings from the sale of vegetables is use to buy more seeds for replanting and expansion of the garden.
I learnt that the use of locally available resources like manure can help to improve vegetable growing because each time I grow the vegetable they do well when I have spread it to my garden therefore, it has become useful for me and has expanded the vegetable growing that has also enhanced me to go into commercial gardening.
The biggest challenge [to start the business] was getting start up capital to run my business. Pests have been disturbing a lot by destroying my crops like cabbages, tomatoes, sukumawiki (spinach), cowpeas among others. Also the thieves uprooting my vegetables at night.
What are your hopes for your business?
Better incomes for these rural poor means that they will buy more from local producers and service providers, with important multiplier effects on the local rural economies and also for the benefit of the manufacturing and services sectors in the country people will be able to buy my produce if it expands.
I hope to expand my business and also become an entrepreneur in the community. I now want to diversify my income by setting up another new project. I plan to expand my business to set up Turkey poultry because very many people from town do buy them expensively.
My business will aim at making sure that my children do go to school, receive medical care and I also buy a car of my choice that I will be using for transporting my goods to the markets.
What issue would you like world leaders to focus on that would have a direct impact on your life?
Encouraging access to finance and business development services that will be instrumental in developing young farmers like me. The leaders should also focus on skills development related to the jobs that we doing in the community.
This week eight of the most powerful leaders in the world are meeting for the G8 summit. What would your message to them be about what their priorities should be?
The need to focus on young people’s engagement in Development processes in order to have improved livelihood. They should understand poverty dynamics and develop interventions that are conflict sensitive and can improve the lives of young people in Karamoja.
One of the topics the leaders will be discussing is agriculture & farming and how to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. What do you think should leaders focus on in order to improve agriculture and tackle hunger in your country/community? Skill Development and provision of start capital to boost the agriculture.
What would you like ONE members to know about your country/community?
My Community is currently guarding peace existence among ethnic groups jealously to avoid setbacks through reporting and timely response to criminal acts by young people. With the current peace level in the region, we have begun producing peacefully, our run away children have began returning home and we also appreciate that they have come with new ways of living. Though the situation has improved, there are still cases of isolated cattle theft going on yet people today are hoping for sustainable livelihood. The statement is true because the Karimojong have a duty to choose to be alive, respect others and their property and to have peace as a state of perpetual love. I Seek peace if not I may join death. Living completely in the past is escaping realities.
Restless Development is an agency that places young people at the forefront of change and development. It works in Africa and Asia to empower young people to take their lives into their own hand and trains, educates and inspires young people to be part of the solution. Find out more at www.restlessdevelopment.org
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