Sister Pauline Acayo of Uganda
|"Born in the Borderlands, Living for Unity"
By Peace Writer Emiko Noma
|"Reversing the Ripples of War"
Produced by Sun & Moon Vision Productions
As peacebuilding project officer for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Gulu, Sister Pauline Acayo has been instrumental in helping over 2,000 formerly abducted children reintegrate into their communities through the use of mediation, psychosocial trauma counseling and traditional indigenous ceremonies. Through Acayo’s support of women peace committees in internally displaced peoples’ (IDP) camps and encouragement to participate in peace and reconciliation activities, women are gaining influential roles in northern Ugandan society. She trains women task forces and creates community forums for women to voice their views. These task forces also work in coordination with Acayo and CRS to promote reconciliation and forgiveness in communities torn apart by 20 years of war.
Throughout the 2006 presidential and parliamentary election process, Acayo was instrumental in ensuring free and fair election processes. Prior to election day, she conducted civic education sessions and pushed for greater women’s representation in government. Acayo is also making strides in coordinating civil society efforts for peacebuilding in Uganda. With the initiation of peace talks in Juba, Sudan between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2006, a large number of IDPs and refugees have been returning home. Acayo is engaged with other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in educating the displaced communities on land rights and the land tenure system, hoping to alleviate and prevent land disputes as the people return to their homes.
Together with the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, Acayo and CRS have formed sub-county and district religious leaders’ peace committees to institutionalize the resolution of conflict through dialogue and mediation. Acayo also coordinated with CRS and the Inter-Religious Council of Churches to develop a peace and reconciliation strategy workshop for senior religious leaders in Uganda and the Great Lakes region, effectively sending the voices of religious leaders to the Juba peace talks. Acayo has been honored with a Voices of Courage Certificate of Recognition from the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children.
Acayo was a Woman PeaceMaker in 2005.