ARUA. A total of 220 refugees and 50 local communities in Rhino Camp settlement have graduated in skills development training in a project implemented by Associazione Centro Aiuti Volontari (ACAV).

The graduation was held on Wednesday at Ofua III camp under the three years project code-named “a better future for refugees in Africa”.

ACAV sponsored a total of 310 out of the targeted 300 girls from 2017 to 2019 and was funded by the Italian autonomous province of Trento and Fondazione San Zeno.

The head of program at ACAV, Mr Patrick Bongo said there are 11 different courses that include Building, Carpentry, and joinery, tailoring, weaving and Knitting and Welding, among others.

“I am glad to report that as we are concluding the third year of this project, in which we have exceeded the target number to be trained in different skills within the three years,” Bongo said.

He said ACAV also considered the fate of boys in the project after lobbying for additional support from a partner that supports Amuru primary school in Ofua IV in Uriama sub-county, a reason a total of 144 boys were part of the 270.

ACAV regional director, Mr Pierluigi Floretta appreciated the government of Uganda through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for the working collaboration in implementing the project in Rhino Camp refugee settlement.

“I have no doubt about the trainees in going to perform according to their expectation because we have the data of follow-ups for the youths we have trained that shows fruition”, he said.

His statement is qualified by some of the trainees in the previous lots who have displayed unique skills in business ventures.

25-year-old Jane Tumalu from Ofua II who trained in weaving and knitting in 2018 said she has seen a difference in her lifestyle compared to the previous when she had no skills training.

Tumalu said she makes sweaters for a variety of customers ranging from nursery children, primary pupils, men and women with varying prices, out of which she saves Shs 100,000 every month.

She said she is also able to help her parents in aiding the education of her siblings.

Tumalu’s father, Mr Satmond Mawa said he is looking for ways of getting a better space for her daughter so that people are able to locate her easily.

Viola Sunday from Ofua IV is another trainee in 2018 who chose Catering and has since ventured into the production of local cakes and bread on a small scale.

“When I was given my tool kits, I came back to the camp to start small by making Mandazi and chapati out of which I can get Shs 25,000 every day”, she said.

“Before my training, I faced a lot of challenges where I lacked most necessities like clothes and cosmetics which nowadays, I can afford and also contribute to supporting my family. I just want to thank ACAV for that”, Viola said.

Mr Jinny Piere who works for OPM Rhino Camp settlement said such training are opportunities that will empower refugees to improve their livelihood by having raised income levels.

He said the initiative will help the refugees especially when World Food Program cuts food rations because they will be self-reliant already.

He said unless the beneficiaries make use of the knowledge and equipment they have got, it will not be of any change in their lives.

The skills development project was implemented in four technical schools in West Nile.

Victoria Chandiru 14 11 19Arua district secretary for community services, Ms Victoria Chandiru hands over a welding machine to one of the graduates. PHOTO BY JOSEPH ODAMA