With a silver nose stud and a matching pendant on her goldish necklace, ‘pumps’ ( a type of ladies’ footwear) in a blue mosaic, a black and white polka dotted dress underneath her black graduation gown, Akello Vicky passes for the typical campus girl next door.
Well, at twenty, that’s more like the signature look of every lass, only for Vicky she can afford a winner’s swag. She has a tailoring certificate to her name, not just a certificate, but she topped her tailoring class at the Gulu War Affected Training Centre. The sewing machine, her prize courtesy of Eskom Uganda Limited the benefactors of the training centre. “I am very happy,” she said as her eyes got teary from joy. As she received this prize from Eskom’s Corporate Affairs manager Simon Kasyate, an elder lady franked her ululating with a clenched fist to the skies. This presumably is the sign of victory, sweet victory; the lady, her mother.
Vicky was one of the 72 ladies and one gentleman that graduated on Saturday. 29th.November.2014 from the Gulu War affected Training Centre in three disciplines, tailoring, catering and hair dressing. They join over 500 before them that have graduated from this very centre since its inception close to a decade ago.
The Gulu War Affected Training Centre (GWATC) was set up to equip women affected by the 20-year insurgency that ravaged Northern Uganda with vocational hands-on skills like tailoring to help them eke a decent living.
The Centre whose target is to educate girls, widows, orphans, former abductees in the community has so far churned out over 600 graduates who are now plying their trade in tailoring, catering and hair dressing. GWATC started in 2005 with 5 students as a sole act of altruism from Ms Betty Lalam then a tailor operating on a shop verandah in Gulu town. Her desire to help teach more disadvantaged girls and women.
“The world to where you have been thrust remains littered with all sorts of challenges and bottlenecks that include diseases like HIV and character traits such as corruption,” warned Simon Kasyate, before adding, “you will live longer when you take good care of yourself,…you will earn more when you do your work with integrity!” He reiterated Eskom’s commitment to continued association with the centre.
The Chairman Board of governors for the centre Mr Ogal Jalb challenged local and central government authorities to build on Eskom’s gesture and offer further support to the centre, referring to a yet to be published five year development plan for the centre.
The Director, Betty Lalam remains ever committed to taking the centre places through enhancing the courses available, in spite of various challenges.