- Julius Muhairwe
- Okello Moses Rubangangeyo
- Akello Rose
- Ouma Christopher Opwonya
- Achora Brenda Lucky
- Aber Irene
- Pasqualino Okello
- Aloyo Janet
- Ocora Stephen
- Consy Adokorach
- Akello Dorine
- Anywar Fred
Director, Founding Member
Julius is the director of IYEP and has been one of the driving forces behind the organization since its inception. He was born in Kiruhura, a district in southern Uganda which has remained untouched by the LRA. Nevertheless, he has long been troubled by the conflict in the north of his country and has devoted himself to helping to rehabilitate this devastated region.
As a child, Julius hoped to one day work with orphans. His father had been orphaned at an early age and subsequently raised by an older brother. The story of the two boys' perseverance had always inspired Julius and filled him with a concern for the neglected and abandoned.
With time, his focus shifted from the plight of neglected children, to that of neglected sectors of society, in general. He became involved in efforts to bridge the gap between the prosperous south, and the war-torn northern region of the country. In 2004, he moved north to Gulu and enrolled in the post-graduate program in Peace and Conflict Management at Gulu University. While there, he became one of the facilitators of Mega FM's "Dwog Paco" (Acholi for "Come Back Home") — a radio program which enabled returned LRA commanders to discuss their experiences coming home, thereby dispelling rumors within the LRA that returnees would be killed or imprisoned, and convincing countless LRA captives to make an escape from the rebel army and return to civilian life.
Julius' work on "Dwog Paco" convinced him that it was victims themselves who were perhaps in the best position to help other victims and facilitate their reintegration into society. Through the project, he met a number of LRA returnees who shared his views, and in July 2004 together they began work on establishing IYEP.
Project Coordinator, Founding Member
Moses is a founding member of IYEP and currently coordinates all the organization's projects. His involvement in IYEP is a direct result of his personal experiences as a child soldier and, later, commander in the LRA.
In August of 1996, Moses was abducted from his dormitory in the Samuel Baker School, outside of Gulu Town. He was 16 years old at the time. For the next 8 years, he lived as a captive of the LRA, subject to their brutal and dehumanizing tactics of brainwashing and indoctrination. Eventually succumbing to these techniques, he became a loyal soldier, and ultimately even a commander.
By 2004, however, his faith in the LRA was waning and he was becoming increasingly disturbed by the group's atrocities. Despite the risks involved, he decided to flee the army camp and set out to find his way home.
Moses' escape was successful, but upon his return to Gulu, he found himself faced with tremendous stigma. He soon learned that the community feared and resented former LRA abductees, and often believed them unfit to rejoin society. Wishing to dispel such negative perceptions, Moses resolved to transform himself, as he puts it, "from a child soldier to a peace builder."
As the second person to speak on the "Dwog Paco" radio program (see above), he soon came into contact with a number of other like-minded returnees, as well as his colleague-to-be, Julius Muhairwe. This group soon began exploring ways in which former abductees could help in the rehabilitation of war-affected communities. In July 2004 they embarked on the project of creating the organization now known as IYEP.
Today, Moses designs and coordinates many of IYEP's projects while also working as a conflict resolution facilitator in many local conflicts and disputes. In addition, he has participated in a number of peace-building conferences both at home and in Kenya and Sierra Leone. At the moment, he is trying raise the money to realize his ambition of pursuing a university degree in Peace and Conflict Management.
Accountant, Founding Member
Rose started off her work with IYEP as a social worker, visiting camp communities to tell them the story of her life in LRA captivity in order to help sensitize non-abducted persons to the experiences of LRA returnees. Today, she also works as the organization's accountant.
Rose was taken by the LRA at the age of 16 and trained as a soldier in the bush. She was later assigned to a commander as a "wife" (sex slave) and gave birth to a child, Fiona, in captivity. She remained with the army for several years before working up the courage to flee. Eventually, together with 3 other girls and her infant daughter, she escaped from her LRA camp in Southern Sudan and made her way back to Uganda.
Upon her return to Gulu, Rose made the decision to go back to school. She sat for, and passed her O Levels and subsequently joined A Levels in a local secondary school. Despite the setbacks and disadvantages of her past, she completed this stage of her education successfully.
She met the other founders of IYEP during a series of brainstorming sessions designed to help LRA returnees readjust to life in the community. When the organization came into existence, she became one of its first camp social workers.
Today, Rose is married and has had a second child — a little girl who's been given the name Peace. Rose continues to work with IYEP on a daily basis, and is currently trying to put together funds to fulfil her dream of attaining a university degree in development studies.
Christopher was born and raised in Gulu Town. He holds a bachelor's degree in development studies and a post-graduate diploma in conflict management and peace studies — both from Gulu University. In the past, he has worked with groups such as Jamii ya Kupatanisha, ACWACWO, and the Acholi Private Sector. With all his previous employers, Christopher focused his efforts in the areas of child protection, peacebuilding, or women empowerment. He joined IYEP because he feels that work with the group allows him to pursue allows him to pursue all three of these passions effectively.
Brenda was raised in Gulu Town and felt drawn to social work at an early age. Even as a child, she was social and empathetic, with a strong urge to help others through their problems. She did a diploma in social work and currently works on sensitizing community leaders and elders to the rights of women and youth.
Aber studied law at Ugandan Christian University. She chose the field because growing up in Gulu Town she saw many whose rights had been violated as a result of conditions emerging from the war. From early on, she wanted to work with disadvantaged sectors of society — especially women and children. She hopes her work with IYEP will help to sensitize local communiites to the rights of women.
Pasqualino spent his childhood in Gulu, and was later sent to Kampala for further schooling. After completing his secondary education, he studied public administration and management at Uganda Christian University. He hopes to eventually work in public policy, but feels that it is critical for policy planners to have a strong sense of the situation on the ground. He hopes that his work in IYEP will help him to more fully understand the needs and concerns of the communities he aims to someday serve in policy work.
Growing up in Gulu Town, Aloyo witnessed the effects of the war in northern Uganda first hand. She saw the way the conflict altered the fabric of Acholi society, and was always deeply distresssed by by the level of gender-based violence in local communities. Her concerns led her to a degree in development studies at Makarere University. She hopes her work at IYEP can help to improve the status of women in the area, and she longs to see the day when women, children, and youth can enjoy their full rights.
Ocora completed a bachelor's degree in public administration and management at Gulu University. Before coming to IYEP, he was the head of social work at St. Jude's Children's Home. He feels he is well suited to social work because he has the ability to treat everyone with equal attention, interest, and concern. In the future, he hopes his sensitization work in the field will lead to local leaders taking a stronger interest in their communities' welfare.
Finance and Administration Officer
Consy grew up between Gulu Town and Kampala. After completing secondary school, she pursued a degree in economics at Kyambogo University, which she later supplemented with a post-graduate diploma from Gulu University. She was drawn to IYEP because of its focus on youth. "I myself am a youth," she says, "I have grown up here and seen the difficulties youth experience in this setting. Through IYEP I can work to help other youth." She is married with two beautiful children.
Finance and Administration Assistant
Akello holds a diploma in sercretarial and information management from Gulu University. She hails from Nwoya District.
Anywar is from Gulu Town. He was recruited to work as a driver for IYEP in 2012, when the organization was first able to afford a vehicle.
Past IYEP Staff
Administrator, Founding Member
Collins is one of the founding members of IYEP and currently serves as an administrator for the organization. He has also done extensive work in local communities, sensitizing the population to the plight of LRA abductees and helping the abductees themselves to readjust to civilian life.
Though never himself abducted, Collins was, from an early age, bothered by the negative attitude of his community towards former child soldiers. He felt it was important for Acholi youths to empathize with one another and work together, regardless of their disparate experiences and suffering. As a result, he chose to make friends with LRA returnees. According to Moses, Collins was the very first non-abducted person to befriend him upon his return to Gulu. Together with other returnees and concerned locals they began to put together IYEP, an organization they hoped would help to heal the community through the spread of information and the empowerment of vulnerable youth.
Head of Social Workers
We are sad to report that in 2010, Francis passed away from meningitis. He is fondly remembered and deeply missed.
Francis became an IYEP staff member in 2007. His job consists primarily of training others to conduct peace building and counselling work in the area's war-affected communities.
Prior to joining IYEP, he worked for the Gulu Disabled Persons' Union. Francis feels these two jobs have a had a great deal in common. In both cases it has been his goal to support a stigmatized group and dispel misconceptions about a marginalized sector of society.
Social Worker, Office Assistant
Isaac has been with IYEP since its earliest stages and currently works as an office assistant in the organization's headquarters.
Isaac was captured by the LRA in 1996, when he was 14 years old. He was able to make an escape in 1998 and returned home to his native Gulu. Once back, he studied tailoring and attempted to resume a normal life in the community. He was disappointed, however, to find there were essentially no institutions in place to help returnees transition. He found that former abductees were forced to deal with their trauma and stigma completely on their own.
His experience of isolation upon returning to Gulu led Isaac to believe that returnees should be assisted and the community as a whole needed help coming to terms with its suffering, as well as with its attitudes towards former abductees. Because of this, he was quick to come on board when he met a group of more recent returnees laying the groundwork for the organization that would become IYEP.
Isaac says he joined IYEP to show people that, "We came out of the bush and we had terrible experiences; but now we are doing something useful with our lives." He would like his work to serve as an example to the community and to other returnees that even after setbacks and suffering, people can make life better. As part of this goal, he also hopes to someday return to secondary school and finish his education.
Office Assistant, Founding Member
Dorine works in IYEP as an office assistant.
Like many of her colleagues, Dorine was at one point a captive of the LRA. She was taken while still in primary school and was held for a number of years before managing to escape. Upon her return, she was overwhelmed and heartbroken by the level of stigma and distrust directed at formerly abducted persons. To her dismay, she found that people believed an LRA returnee — especially a woman — was useless and unable to do anything in society.
Dorine says she joined the founders of IYEP in part to prove such popular beliefs wrong. She has recently gone back to school, completing Primary 3 (the equivalent of third grade in the U.S.) and skipping a year to Primary 5. She plans to continue both her education and her work at IYEP so as to dispel negative perceptions in the community and help future returnees reintegrate without the obstacles she has faced.