Two Kalongo Town businesses and a youth project have been awarded grants of just over 1 million Ugandan Shillings by the Kalongo Times to help them grow and develop.
This was the inaugural Professor Dr JJ Otim development Award which has been established in his memory by the Kalongo Times to continue his work to uplift not only the people of Kalongo but the Luo Speaking Acholi people in general.
The organisations were selected because they offer important goods or services to Kalongo and are contributing to the growth and development of Kalongo Town Council. Additionally, they have the potential to make an even bigger impact on the town.
Each one received 354,846 Ugandan Shillings on18 October 2021 as a no strings attached grant to invest as they see fit in the further growth of their organisation.
Prior to the award, Mr Obonyo Alex sat down with each of the winners for an interview to discuss their organisation’s journey and their plans for the future. Links to the interviews are at the end of each story below.
Meet the winners
Foundation Football Academy Kalongo
The first winner of the grant was the Foundation Football Academy Kalongo which was founded by Mr. Kidega Michael Oryema from Kalongo Town Council. It supports talented young football players between the ages of 6 to 14. It also helps improve their wellbeing and instils moral guidance and a development focus.
In his interview with The Kalongo Times, Mr Oryema said he was inspired to set up the academy by his passion for football – both as a fan and a player. He also recognized that many of these children had limited opportunities so he came together with like-minded people to start the process of identifying and supporting young children.
He wanted to uplift this age group and help realise their untapped potential. He believed that, if properly nurtured from a young age, they had the potential to compete at the regional, national and international stages. He believed that the recognition of their talent could open doors to education because some disadvantaged children from very humble backgrounds had been able to further their education through sponsorship resulting from excelling at games and sports. Unfortunately, many parents did not have the means to give their children a good education so their talents remained unrecognised and untapped.
Mr Oryema told The Kalongo Times that football was only one element of the support the Academy offered. The youth were given the opportunity for spiritual and moral growth, as well as work experience in areas like agriculture and business.
Although the Academy had already achieved a lot, many challenges remained and they needed support to acquire a permanent location, equipment and uniforms.
Mr Oryema said that in the short term, he would need to have all the team fully equipped with football uniforms, boots and balls as well as have the football pitch well equipped with goalposts. The team should then be able to compete and win football matches in the region.
In the long term, he planned to have his own pitch and necessary infrastructure. He also planned to have the team registered in the next year with the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) for the under 14s and to be able to compete effectively and win matches from within and without.
Read Mr Oryema’s full interview here.
PURA-PURA, a provider of Agricultural inputs
The second winner was PURA-PURA which was founded by Mr. Okidi Alfred. The name refers to “working the land” to uplift oneself out of poverty as opposed to being idle and making a living in an underhand way.
PURA-PURA deals in agricultural inputs which range from seeds, pesticides, protective wear like gumboots and weed killers, among others.
Mr Okidi said he started the business in 2014 after finalising a certificate course in Agriculture in 2013. He then decided in 2015 to go for a two-year course in Agriculture and in 2017 was awarded a diploma certificate. He has since then engaged in business, sometimes offering sensitization and training of farmers in various areas of agricultural improvement.
In his interview with The Kalongo Times, Mr Okidi Alfred said:
“I have grown and my business has helped me go back to school and qualify with a diploma in agriculture. I have also been able to support my family with the proceeds of the business. I also go on radio talk shows to educate the populace on various farming techniques, available agricultural inputs, and how to use them. You realize that much as the indications on the label are clearly written, many farmers still find it hard to comprehend and, in most cases, end up basing on assumptions that often leads to undesirable outcomes.”
Mr Okidi said the business was growing and he intended to continue dealing in Agricultural inputs with the possibility of extending branches or outlets to reach farmers in the neighbouring sub-counties. He also intended to improve his capacity through short courses tailored to a specific area of interest for improving agriculture in the community, and possibly enrol for a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture.
Read Mr Okidi’s full interview here.
D & SONS Metal Fabrication Company
The final winner was Mr. Okello Jimmy who founded D & Sons. Mr Okello started his business in 2014 after finalizing his diploma course from Uganda Technical Institute Mbale, after which he decided to start his own business of welding metal objects and since then he has gradually grown.
The business specialises in metal fabrication (making metallic steel doors, chairs, windows, roofs, hand washing facility, gates, water tank stands, goal posts and many others. It also engages in training and skilling of youth – both formal and non-formal.
In his interview with the Kalongo Times, Mr. Okello Jimmy said:
“I invested a startup capital of ugx25,000- but have since grown overtime inspite of the politico-economic challenges in the environment that hindered growth at the initial stage.
I started at a very modest level welding broken metallic parts e.g bicycles, motorcycles and small fabrication works and this has gradually grown to major fabrication works on contract basis for institutions like schools, Churches, NGOs and even local government agencies.
This business has helped me fend for my family. I am able to house, feed, educate clothe and meet my obligation as the breadwinner of the family. I have been able to support my relatives where necessary.
One of the most important things is the exposure and contact I have gained because of this work and this has opened doors for other opportunities. I am very emboldened by the fact that many youths who have passed through my hands are independent and successful plying the same or similar trade.”
Looking ahead, Mr Okello said he intend to have his own yard for the workshop in the mid-term. They were currently renting a small place that did not allow for expansion and redesigning of the workshop. He hoped to acquire all the essential and important tools and equipment necessary to improve the quality of his services. His plan in the long term was to strengthen the carpentry section by acquiring planer machine for smoothing and shaping timber.
Read Mr Okello’s full interview here.
How you can continue to support our winners
These three organisations are all very deserving winners and we hope the grant we have given them helps them in whatever small way to continue to excel. They all have admirable growth ambitions which would greatly benefit them and Kalongo if they are realised.
We therefore hope more people can consider offering them additional support.
If you are interested in offering support, please contact us at The Kalongo Times and we will facilitate your engagement with the organisations.
We are unable to post their contact information here due to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) but can seek permission from the organisation to share that information with you.
About the Professor Dr JJ Otim’s Development Award
Prof Dr JJ Otim sadly passed away on the 4th of September 2021 and this Development Award has been established by The Kalongo Times in his memory. As the son of Yusefu Lagwok one of the founders of Kalongo, Prof Dr JJ Otim was a very proud son of Kalongo. He had always been passionate about helping the town achieve its potential and remained a passionate advocate for its growth and development until his untimely death.
This grant carries on his legacy and is intended to support the growth and development of Kalongo Town, Northern Uganda and Luo speaking Acholi people more broadly.
Going forward, the grant, totalling 350,000 Shillings, will be awarded each month to ONE business that provides important goods and services to Kalongo or to a project that has the potential to improve the lives of the people of Kalongo.
Criteria for the selection of the businesses and projects will be made available in due course for any businesses that would like to apply for the grant.
The Kalongo Times is a news publication which celebrates progress and development in Kalongo town and the wider Deaconry (formally Kalongo Mission). The Deaconry encompasses present-day Agago, part of Pader, part of Kitgum and part of Abim.