In a post-conflict area, what happens when the aid runs out?

Nov 18, 2016

“I grew up very poor. My father was a lorry driver and he had to support 15 family members. All I knew was that when I grew up, I wanted to help other poor people get out of similar circumstances. That’s what we’re able to do.”

So said Benedict Male, the Director of Voluntary Action for Development (VAD), one of our partners based in Uganda. On Thursday 17th November we were fortunate enough to welcome Benedict to our London offices, and hear him give a talk on his work, and the way in which our project supports displaced people returning home. We were joined by various supporters, partners and friends.

Benedict presenting our vocational training project in Uganda
Benedict sharing stories from our vocational training project


In the void that is left in communities that have been dependent on handouts during times of conflict, people often lack the skills and infrastructure to support themselves and often government isn’t equipped to do so either.

We are currently working with VAD on a large project in Amuria, in a rural part of north-east Uganda. With VAD, we are supporting over a thousand displaced people gain vocational training skills which mean they can find work, support their families, and regain confidence and stability. You can read more about the project here.

Benedict, who has worked at VAD for 18 years, offered us illuminating insights into the challenges displaced people can face. Poverty is rampant, with factors including severe malnutrition, sexual health problems, lack of shelter, and no income.

Thankfully, Benedict was able to deliver many good-news stories about the impact VAD’s hard work is having on the area. We heard about how new baking skills are allowing Joyce to travel to nearby towns to sell her cakes at market; we learnt how Simon was involved in petty crime until VAD’s training gave him the construction skills he needed to gain an income. It’s not just women and young people who are benefiting, either. Benedict told us about the impact the community literacy classes are having, with Madalena, an elderly lady, now able to read her own drug prescriptions – “The training has enable me to carefully administer drug prescriptions for myself and children. For instance, now I know that 2 tablets 3 times is different from 3 tablets 2 times”, she told him.

Hannah Walters, our Senior Programme Officer, said: “The drinks reception was a fantastic opportunity for Feed the Minds supporters to hear first-hand from our partner Benedict about the impact the FTM VAD project is having on the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable women and youth in Uganda.”

We look forward to seeing how this project continues to thrive in the future.

Josephine Carlsson (Director, Feed the Minds) and Benedict Male (Director, Voluntary Action for Development)
Josephine Carlsson (Director, Feed the Minds) and Benedict Male (Director, Voluntary Action for Development)