The YOUTH CSO HUB IN ARUA CITY- A CAPACITY STRENGTHENING SPACE FOR YOUTH CSOs TO FLOURISH BEYOND THEIR IMAGINATION
Mercy Monica was born and raised in Arua like any other child. It was until when she turned 24 years that she got medical complication with her eyes and by the time she turned 28 years she had lost her sight completely… “I have experience of not being supported to walk and I also have the life experience of being supported to walk this keeps motivating me to build capacities of others to learn how to live with visually impaired people because it can easily happen to anyone at any time” said
Monica Ocotoko Mercy is the founder and Executive Director of WOMEN EFFORT FOR INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT (WEID) a women led organization founded in June 2020 and registered in Arua City.
WEID was selected among the Youth CBOs to benefit from the Open Civic Space project under the category of People with Disability Led CBOs. Just like any other 29 organisations, they have participated and benefited from Open Civic Space for Youth project whose overall objective is “Strengthened organizational resilience and eased operating environment of youth-led CSOs in Arua.” Among the key components of the project include
(i) the Youth CSO Hub and
(ii) the Civil Society Strengthening Academy
(iii) Civil Society Strengthening Fund.
These components have supported over 30 organizations with Increased knowledge and strengthened the capacity of youth-led CSOs, their networks, shared resources, and joint actions for youth-led CSOs to operate as effective civil society actors.
The CSO hub is designed to be an open thinking and co-creation space for youth and youth CSOs. this inspired WEID to share their expertise to other 29 CBOs on basic skills to live and work and with visually impaired women. Mercy organized tailored orientation to CBOs to understand how the mind and heart of visually impaired people works each time they wake up. She organized practical sessions on how to help a visually impaired person access social facilities like the toilet, kitchen and even where to seat. “You don’t need to be a specialist to guide a visually impaired person you just need to have the basics because as CBO leaders your initiatives need to be inclusive therefore having knowledge of the basics is very important”. The Youth CSO hub has also further exposed CBOs to other stable organisations with financial capacity to subgrant at small scale. WEID was also recognized as one of the PWD and women led emerging organisations from the grass root by “Strategic Initiative for women in the Hort Africa Network’s” - SIHANET and also through the “Gender and Governance” project they were sub granted with 5000 USD to map and document specific issues affecting Women with Disability that needed to be brought to the attention of policy makers and policy enforcement. “Much as we knew SIHANET before, our participation in the open Civic Space for Youth project further built our capacity to tap into locally available resources but also CSS Fund supported us to meet key requirements for CSOs to work and trust us with resources” said Mercy Monica.
WEID was able to reach out to 120 women with disability living in Arua City. Among the issues generated include but not limited to
(i) limited access for women with disability to access public services therefore health facilities, public markets and justice centers including police.
(ii) Un noticed increase of sexual harassment among women living with disability
(iii) Limited economic opportunities provided by government to reduce vulnerability of women with disability.
All economic empowerment programs of government are competitive even the women enterprise program. “Organizational growth is not how powerful your systems are but how impactful you are to the community. We can’t believe it, that in one year we have been able to reach out to 120 women living with disability in Arua city alone and yet this is just the beginning.” Aseru Mercy the programs coordinator for WEID