Gulu War Affected Training Centre, (GWATC), an Eskom Uganda aided facility, last week held its sixth graduation ceremony with 99 students receiving certificates in catering, tailoring and hair dressing.
The training centre was established in the aftermath of the Northern war by Ms. Betty Lalam who started with only 5 students in a shop verandah in 2005. The centre is funded by Eskom Uganda, the Nalubale and Kiira dams Concessionaire.
“The People of Gulu and indeed the whole of Acholi Sub region, especially those who have gone through this training centre look at Eskom as God’s messenger, send to wipe tears off our eyes, following the trauma that we went through during the LRA war which ravaged this area. We can never thank them enough.” Lalam said praising Eskom.
Lalam said the fresh graduates are joining 1,814 other beneficiaries who have graduated from the centre since inception and have gone off to start profitable ventures using the skills they acquired at the centre.
Eskom Uganda Managing Director Thozama Gangi said Eskom started with initial donation of Ushs200m to build classroom blocks for GWATC which were officially opened and handed over to the Director and Board members on January 14th, 2010.
According to Thozama, who was speaking at the graduation, the company has since continued to offer assistance to the school by offering a sewing machine to the best student on graduation day.
“For me, I look at what is happening here today as a demonstration of Eskom’s commitment to continue making a difference in the lives of ordinary people, to ensure their wellbeing is improved.
Initially, the Gulu War Affected Training Centre was set up to equip women affected by the 20-year insurgency that ravaged Northern Uganda with Vocational hands-on skills like tailoring, catering and hairdressing to help them get a decent living. With Eskom’s support that vision has come to bear fruits as you can see for yourselves today” Thozama said.
According to Thozama, the idea of constructing the facility was hinged onto the relevance of community rehabilitation following the devastating war that ravaged these region years back.
Thozama said Eskom has since attracted other partners including MTN Uganda which donated 15 computers to start up an ICT lab within the facility. MTN also donated one Inverter and solar batteries.
“Eskom Uganda is proud to be one of those companies that came out to stand with the communities here at a time of need. We wanted to be part of the process that would eradicate those ugly scars left by war, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in this region”, Thozama added.
The Guest of Honour at the event, South African High Commissioner His Excellency Prof. Rtd. Major Gen. Solly Mollo urged the graduants to make good use of the knowledge they have acquired at the centre to add value to their lives.
He hailed Eskom for standing with the people of Acholi in times of need, equating the move to a good friend who sticks around even in bad times. Major General Mollo pledged to explore channels through which the Acholi Cultural institution can engage in a cultural exchange with the South African people.
Other Eskom Uganda humanitarian initiatives
Eskom Uganda believes in adding value to the lives of local communities and hence it has over the last 13 years invested in environmental upgrade, sports sponsorship, health and education.
In Environment, Eskom has engineered the planting of over 40,000 trees around Jinja district. Eskom also partnered with Busoga Development Agency to plant trees along all major roads in Busoga Sub-region.
In Health, Eskom has partnered with local leadership to upgrade and rehabilitate Kimaka Maternity Clinic in Jinja. Eskom is looking at equipping the clinic with modern equipment to reduce maternity related risks.
In Education, Eskom plans to rehabilitate the Njeru Primary school in Buikwe district. Work begins in December 2016 to re-roof the school and install solarsupply system and stock a state of the art computer room as well as water supply system in partnership with other corporates.
Transferring skills to Ugandans
About 390 graduate trainees in Uganda have been absorbed by Eskom to gain hands on experience in hydro generation engineering since commencement of operations. EUL has continued to offer a continuous industrial training of 30 students per annum.
In line with government of Uganda’s focus on Skilling Uganda, Eskom is already making a contribution towards taking Uganda to a middle income economy by 2020. This year, Eskom has undertaken to train 25 Engineers, technicians and operators from UEGCL as part of Eskom’s contribution towards skills development of UEGCL.