From 1987 to 2005 the people of Northern Uganda suffered greatly from the ongoing guerrilla activities of the 'Lord’s Resistance Army' (LRA).
The situation became so bad that in 1996 the Ugandan Government created camps for about 2 million local village people to leave their homes and live in protected settlements called Internally Displaced Peoples' Camps (IDPs).
Here they lived in tents, got all supplies from international agencies and were unable to farm for food. In the camps many people went in as children, and many more were born there. Consequently, the local people lost their skills for farming and fending for themselves. Many children and adults lost their lives at these camps due to malnutrition, HIV-Aids, cholera and many other diseases.
However, this situation was not to be permanent.
From about 2005 peace talks between the Ugandan Govt and the LRA were materialising, with a truce and ceasefires agreed and broken. However, some conflict continued until about 2007 when a new campaign was launched by Amnesty International to negotiate through forgiveness. That’s when many rebels returned to their homes to be reintegrated in the community.
By 2007 the Government had closed all the IDP camps and ordered all the international agencies not to support camp dwellers with any projects. Consequently, people gradually started returning to their villages that they left over 20 years ago to start a new life. The only challenge was they had no farming skills, while infrastructure, health centers and local government were not in place.
In May 2010 President Obama signed into US law the 'Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act', sending in American troops who had returned from Iraq. These soldiers helped provide intelligence to the African Union forces (Amissom) to hunt for the remaining rebels, including the leader Joseph Kony, but to no avail.
A whole generation of villagers has lost much of the knowledge and skills for growing food, let alone having the incentive to generate an extra income from more productive farming.
Tamarind exists to instil a mindset of independence amongst Northern Ugandan communities, rather than rely on government and NGO handouts.
We do this through teaching effective farming practices that increase yield, thus allowing villagers to move from subsistence farming with a focus on the present, to farming practices that enable villagers to set aside produce and funds for future needs.
We endeavour to change the hand to mouth survival mentality that was prevalent during the war, while respecting and restoring traditional cultural practices.
We choose to help people help themselves.
Chris has a degree in teaching, and has completed a farming scholarship with Rotary Australia. Chris is passionate about seeing his community break the cycle of poverty.
Chris Ochaya and Sarah Ochaya are married with 3 children. Together, they started Tamarind in 2012 with the mission to restore, rebuild and resource the people of Northern Ugandan.
Sarah has a degree in theology and counselling. She has been living in Uganda for 13 years and currently is the director of The Tribe (Ugandan artisan production). She is passionate about seeing those around her healed - body, mind and soul.