When Jason, Bobby, and Laren met Jolly Okot-Andruville on their initial trip to Uganda, I think it’s safe to say that none of them knew the impact that she would have on the vision of Invisible Children. Jolly, our Regional Ambassador to East and central Africa, has been instrumental in the identity of the organization, especially in northern Uganda. Her leadership and guidance has been essential in the implementation of many of our programs on the ground, including Mend, a social enterprise that produces high-quality handbags while providing advanced training in tailoring, finance, and personal development to the women it supports.
New Vision, a prominent news source in Uganda, recently spotlighted Jolly and the work that she is doing with communities in northern Uganda who have been affected by the LRA conflict. Jolly, who columnist George Wabweyo refers to as “a phoenix that has risen from the ashes,” was abducted by rebels in 1986 when she was 20 years old.
After being released by the rebels, she went on to work with several international development organizations before founding HEAL in 2003 – an organization that provides dance therapy to children who have been affected by the LRA conflict. It was around that same time that Mrs. Okot-Adruville met our founders. Together they formed the Legacy Scholarship Program, which has awarded more than 4,500 secondary and university scholarships to students in northern Uganda. Her work earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2005.
The article goes on to discuss in detail Jolly’s work with the women of Mend and even garners the praise of several of the women in the program, who affectionately call her Mama:
“When I hear about Mama Jolly, I feel happy and thankful. What she has done for the children and women of Northern Uganda is amazing.”
“Before joining here, I used to sleep hungry but now I feed my children; Mama Jolly came up with a great product that has changed my life.”
You can read the article in it’s entirety on New Vison’s website. But be warned, your heart will probably melt and you might even start referring to her as Mama Jolly – neither of which are bad things.
(Photo credit: Westminster)