Welcome to Rethink Relief 2014 from David Okello

Caritas staff in Pader in charge of Rethink Relief 2014 local logistic

David Okello, Program manager of Caritas in Pader Uganda shares memories of his first experience at Rethink Relief in the Netherlands just a week before Rethink Relief 2014 takes place in the community he calls home.

Experiencing “Rethink Relief” for the First Time

It was October 2011 when I had the opportunity to attend the very first Rethink Relief conference in Delft, Netherlands. It all started with a “heads-on” panel discussion on the challenges of transition from relief to development and ended with “hands-on” design process during the last three days of the five-day conference.

Coming from a project management background, I was not sure if I would be relevant and make any contribution toward the technology design process when the session shifted from “heads-on” to “hands-on.” Our group was assigned to work on rainwater harvesting for the rural resettling community in northern Uganda. It was indeed an amazing process. I learned how systematic and iterative engineers are as they move through the design process and soon, I was as busy as any engineer at a lab.

What I took with me home from the conference is that technology design and innovation is a creation of the mind. And what one needs to develop technology is a creative mind that does not limit its thinking capacity. I also learned that many people normally limit their minds or underestimate their creative capacity and as a result nike air max discount, they convince themselves that “it is impossible,” yet they have the capacity to undo the impossibilities. I also learned that once the thinking process is grounded to paper, pen, hammer, saws, and drills, the immediate results are prototypes and sooner or later, a technology is born!

Now, moving from the “high comfort” in Delft in Netherlands to the “low comfort” in Pader Northern Uganda to host the Rethink Relief, I am very excited and humbled to be a host, to take leadership in planning and organizing, and to have this great team of creators in Africa, Uganda and Pader in particular.

Hosting Rethink Relief in Pader is especially important given the large number of refugees still living without basic needs in Northern Uganda. The summit will engage both local refugees and individuals from around the world to co-create technologies and approaches specifically tailored for improving life in refugee camps.

With this privilege therefore, on behalf of Caritas Gulu and the people of northern Uganda, I warmly welcome every participant and wish you a nice stay in Pader. My greatest desire is that whatever technology design process that will start here in Pader shall be completed in any corner of the world; be it in the high-tech lab in the US, Europe, Asia or Africa, it shall trace its origin and benefit the refugee communities in any parts of the world.

I am glad to introduce to you a team of committed Caritas staff who are behind the newly established technology center run by Caritas here in Pader:

•           Mr.   Ben Lakony                    – Center manager
•           Mr.   Denis Obwona                – Technical officer
•           Ms.  Susan Harriet Aber         – Field Officer
•           Ms.  Irene Lawino                  – Office Assistant.

Background to Caritas Gulu Archdiocese’s operation in Adjumani.

The situation in South Sudan suddenly deteriorated in early December 2013 when  fighting broke out amongst the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) on December 15th in Juba which spread to Jonglei and Unity States within a couple of days. Following this incidences, between December 16th and January 20th, 2014, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Office reported approximately 47,500 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.

The refugees arriving to Adjumani district cross the Ugandan border through Nimule in South Sudan and are received at the Elegu Collection Center mens new balance 680. Once received at the collection center, refugees are mobilized to the transit centers and then to the resettlement areas.

Caritas Gulu Archdiocese through her partners among others Catholic Relief Services (CRS); CORDAID, NORAD and Caritas Germany with different funding and memorandum of associations, intervened in support of the Refugees. Since February 2014 Caritas has been implementing WASH component in Ayilo Resettlement Camp with support from CRS. Caritas Germany supported the refugees through provision of non-food items, which went along way in resettling them.

With support from CORDAID it has made it possible to support the construction of learning centre within Ayilo Resettlement, support food security and environmental conservation both within the resettlement and the host community. Caritas provided improved seeds and tree and fruit seedlings. The project is to support WASH as the major component relating to the health of Refugees.