About the Pader Girls’ Academy
The Pader Girls’ Academy is a haven for 250 young northern Ugandan girls and their 70 babies. The PGA boarding school facilities and surrounding grounds provide an atmosphere of peace and hope for the girls, most of whom were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as “brides”, only to find themselves ostracized on their return to village life. PGA is the only school in Uganda where babies can live with their mothers at school, receiving the care and love that will help them thrive.
PGA is situated on the edge of Pader town in Northern Uganda, about 30 kilometres from the Sudan border. For 20 years, up to 2008, Pader was at the centre of a civil war which impacted all Acholi people by taking away their means of livelihood, destroying their strong family bonds and forcing one million Acholi into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
There are two streams at the school, one academic and the other vocational (this includes a bakery, restaurant and sewing activities). Most of the girls are old for their year, as they’ve missed up to five years’ education while living in the bush during the war. Not all the PGA girls were abducted – some have come from villages without schools and are considered to be vulnerable.
CCF Pader combines responsible stewardship with a shared vision of “seeing a society where children affected by armed conflict, orphans and vulnerable children, and women enjoy their rights to a decent living”.
Why a guesthouse and training centre?
Girls abducted in their teen years know little about life beyond the war. Most return to villages from the bush with a huge gap in their education and without skills to help them build a livelihood. Hope for the future soon dissolves with a lack of opportunity.
One of the aims of the Pader Girls’ Academy is to open channels that will allow the girls to build for the future. The functioning, viable guest house will not only be the finest accommodation in the district, but it will provide a venue for the girls to learn about providing hospitality and to learn skills in cooking, housekeeping, hotel management and hygiene what will make them sought-after employees in the growing Ugandan hospitality industry.
The C3 community of women has walked alongside Alice and the girls for the past six years of the guesthouse project. The C3 women rallied when Alice expressed one of her own dreams for the girls – to build a guest house where they could receive training in areas of hospitality like housekeeping, catering and administration, while earning an income for the running of the school.
Now project is complete and a new door to the future is open for Alice Achan and the girl mothers of Pader. The girl mothers can be equipped for a livelihood and trained for jobs in the community.
The guesthouse will accommodate conferences, foreign and local visitors to the Pader district and potentially a tourist trade in the north. Further, income from the guesthouse will provide an income for the school, so more young women and their babies can benefit in the future.