In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, VC volunteers were forced to return home leaving VC partner projects in transition. VC adapted to this change by placing qualified national volunteers called VC Representatives to continue with the work.
In this series of VC Representative profiles, we interview Brenda Akullo, a VC representative from our partner, Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) Hoima Diocese, Western Uganda. Brenda, a lawyer by profession tells us her experiences, successes and what she has gained and learnt since becoming a VC representative.
Brenda comes from Oyam District, Northern Uganda. she took up the VC representative role with JPC Hoima in 2020, at the time when international volunteers were evacuated as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Brenda replaced the VC volunteers that were evacuated, carrying out the tasks that two volunteers (who were qualified in law and organisational development) had been performing.
The scope of the role is large and it can be challenging but Brenda was trained and prepared for it. It includes developing mediation services, settling disputes amongst the most vulnerable members of the community, implementing the JPC Community Sensitisation Programmes and developing the weekly radio programme on Radio Maria and others.
“VC provided online training courses on aid and development which I greatly benefited from”, says Brenda.
She completed the VC Venture online training course in 2020 which included Project Cycle Management and Monitoring and Evaluation among others – she feels that these helped mentor and build the capacity of VC representatives.
Brenda affirms that with the skills that she gained from Venture, she has been able to build capacity of Justice and Peace commission (JPC) staff and JPC Commissioners at the Justice and Peace Department. In doing so it has in turn raised awareness to communities on human rights, land rights, children’s rights and environmental justice. She has provided trainings to teachers on positive discipline and worked with many schools to strengthen the JPC school clubs. Brenda has held community dialogue events with refugees in settlement camps of western Uganda to promote peace and harmonious living between the refugees and host communities.
She has provided trainings to all the JPC parish coordinators in Hoima Diocese (Western Uganda) in modern peace building and mediations and has also conducted mediations and amicably settled disputes in communities including cases of land rights violations, child maintenance cases, family conflicts and cases of domestic violence.
“All this was possible due to the information I received from the VC online courses” says Brenda
Her view on the future of volunteering
Brenda believes that international volunteering can work alongside local volunteering, while having a local VC representative in charge of the project. She goes on to mention that with the current global developments in technology and the mode of work in the “new normal” globally, international volunteering can work best through online volunteering. This would also be an opportunity for disability inclusion in international volunteering.