This is Uganda (ThisIs256) is a platform of talented writers from Uganda who are determined to write positive stories about their country, banishing stories about poverty porn, hunger, Ebola, and tribalism, among others. They seek to represent an authentic, reflective, honest, and objectively balanced study about Uganda that you will never find anywhere else in mainstream western media.
Their latest story is about Victor Ochen, a former internally displaced person who was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organisation, for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In the past, AFSC nominated Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King Jr., and US President Jimmy Carter, who all became winners. The organisation unsuccessfully nominated Mahatma Gandhi, who never won the Nobel Peace Prize, although he was nominated five times between 1937 and 1948.
Ochen, 33, founded the African Youth Initiative Network, based in Lira, Uganda, in 2005, which works in medical rehabilitation of victims of burnings, mutilations of all kinds, rape, and psychological torture as well as promotes youth leadership. It has grown to become an international network of medical professionals who help victims rebuild their homes and livelihoods. According to This is Uganda:
What Victor did out of sheer compassion added him to this prestigious list. As a teenager in Abia camp that was home of over 40,000 people, he formed a peace club with his peers in the camp. This initiative angered the elders “Why are you talking about peace that you have never seen?” He was enterprising; he risked his life to burn charcoal to raise his school fees. Then later he joined secondary school and could barely afford time to do his charcoal business so he became a cobbler, he used to repair shoes of kids at school. One day he landed a big job of mending the shoes of the school football team, unfortunately that money was stolen. His hard work and favor from the teachers saw him through high school.
Victor’s heart was home even when he worked with straight talk foundation in Kampala, interacting with the people in the field made him realize that the people of northern Uganda wanted more than hand outs but wanted and deserved more. That is when he left his job and started the African youth initiative Network. This initiative mobilizes communities especially the youth to pursue peace and human rights, reconciliation. They offer psychosocial support to the former victims of conflict, most of who suffer severe emotional pain and struggle with forgiveness, they have also supported over 5000 people with reconstructive surgeries especially the women whose lips were cut off, the initiative also supports income generating activities, have formed 100 peace clubs in schools and universities in northern Uganda and over 6000 young people have gone through the peace building and transitional justice programme.