Written by Dickens Akena, Communications Support
In Lacor center, across from the hospital and stone’s throw away from our forest, 37 young people are going about their days with a new identity: Climber. In May, we graduated what we think is our best cohort of Climbing Club yet. For four months, these 37 young people, all of whom have had to drop out of school, some permanently, some temporarily as a result of the pandemic, spent their Thursdays learning to climb. At TRP we believe that one of the powerful things we can do for our own growth, is try something new. And for 15 weeks, 37 young people stepped out of their comfort zones, tried something new, and grew bit by bit into the climbers they are today.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing about different aspects of our Climbing Club program: insights from a couple of graduates (see below), reflections from parents and husbands invited for our Family Days, highlights from our Climbing Wilderness Weekend, and our favorite impact story from this cohort.
Today we’re sharing interviews with two Climbing Club graduates, Apiyo Innocent and Lakot Faizal. While climbing was a new experience for all 37 of our new climbers, it is an especially unique experience for the girls and women who join us. We’re excited to share Innocent and Faizal’s words with you:
Q. Tell me about your life at home? Who is in your family? How do you stay at home? What are things that challenge you at home?
A. I am living with a single parent, my mom, she has some small business of selling vegetables at the local market in Lacor. We are 4 children 3 girls and 1 boy. I should be in senior 2 at Gulu Army Secondary School, Gulu City but we are home still because of COVID. I am rearing pigs currently, having received training from The Recreation Project few years ago. The money I get from selling pigs is the money helping me in school and of course you know pigs are not constant if they are not many, but that’s what will help me with tuition once school reopens.
Q. How did you learn about the Climbing Club?
A. I was in the village when some friends of mine who are doing Climbing Club told me that the training is going on and that Denish (Climbing Club Coordinator) tried to reach me through my mum but her phone was off, so I came to the forest and found a staff member who gave me more details. I was a week late but the registration was still going on so without hesitation, I joined immediately, lucky me!
Q. Have you notice any changes in yourself since you joined climbing club?
A. I now know how to talk to people and also how to behave when with different kind of people. I know that we need to work together and that’s what I am doing with my classmates. I feel very good whenever I am at the forest and I keep waiting for Thursdays. Friends started telling me that I am young but I have mature thinking and decisions but all these started when I joined Climbing Club.
Q. What were you looking forward to most in Climbing Club?
A. I really wanted to continue with the climbing training because I want to be a climber and climb a big mountain some day!
Q. Tell me about your life at home? Who is in your family? How do you stay at home? What are things that challenged you at home?
A. In our home, we are 6 children, 4 of them are boys and we are two girls, I live with my mother, I sat my form six level in 2019 from a school in Gulu City called Trinity College. But currently I am at home because of tuition issues. Life is very hard for me with the fact that I have some issues with my mum, I just feel that my mother does not look at me as an important child at home and she doesn’t want to hear anything from me. My major challenge is tuition at the moment and bad relationship with my mother.
Q. How did you learn about the Climbing Club?
A. I got to know about the Climbing Club training from a friend called Mercy, she called me when I was chased away from home by my mother for some family issues so I was staying with my aunty at Pece.
Q. What did you think when you were first invited?
A. First of all I wasn’t doing anything, so once a week sounded okay for me so I thought that something good might come out of it, and my friend Mercy had told me that I can get some life lessons from it and that was my thought too.
Q. Have you noticed any changes in yourself since you joined climbing club?
A. These entire training is changing my life in different ways that I can’t list them all, right now I know how to make good decisions for myself while thinking of the future.
Q. How do you always feel when you are at Climbing Club?
A. When I am in the forest for Climbing Club training, I feel so happy and alive and I also forget about the family issues, every Thursdays are always a good day for me and I wouldn’t feel like going home whenever I come to The Recreation Project.
Q. What has been your favorite part so far?
A. Wall climbing has been my favorite parts of the training while Spiders Web was also great, it taught me a lot about working together to achieve on something.
Q.Tell me about what happened at the parent’s and family day?
A. During the parent’s day, we played Milk Tea River with some people blindfolded, and our parents understood the benefits of the different games we played here at TRP. Another game we played is Crossing The Line, where by you convince a friend from your opposite side to cross over to your side and we also got some training on conflict resolution, which is helping me at home a lot.
Q. What did your household talk about at home after Family day?
A. After my mother came for the family day and experience what happened at The Recreation Project, she encouraged my other siblings to also join in the next training.
Q. Any comment or feedback?
A. I want to thank The Recreation Project and everyone involved with the training first because this kind of training help people change their life and also help you set a great goals for yourself. And what I realized about this training is that it will help more people from any community reached.