My name is Akol John but my friends call me ‘Long John’. I am 23-years old and a refugee from South Sudan. I fled the conflict in South Sudan in 2016 and settled with my uncle and aunt in Siripi Zone, Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement. I went to school and completed Primary Seven in 2017 with hopes of finding more money to continue with secondary school.

I could only hope for possibilities while I spent most of my time with my friends idle at the trading center.”

‘Long John’ had seen a lot of potential and opportunity in capturing the local market, mainly those of South Sudanese decent who love bread and pastries. He claims that his vision has always driven him into an aspiring bakery owner and expert baker.

When ANCHOR advertised for the trade during community sensitization and pre-selection career guidance campaigns held in Siripi Zone in December 2019, ‘Long John’ was among the first people from from his settlement community to apply, but soon after had to travel back to South Sudan to visit his family. By a stroke of good luck, he got a second chance to enroll into the Second Cohort training after the first COVID 19 lockdown was lifted. 

“While on the project, I could not wait for those times when we had to bake cakes, bread and the mandazi. These are on high demand in any community since families celebrate birthdays and must have breakfast regularly.”

With a lot of vigor and thirst for knowledge, John became exceptional at school, and he was later selected as the oven operator, where he played a vital role in supporting the first cohort bakery trainees during their DIT assessment.

After completing school-based training, John was placed at Kitumwa Bakery in Koboko town for his Industrial training where, his work ethic was noticed right away, and he would later be retained for employment by the bakery (Figure 45). From having zero income before the training, John now earns approximately 300,000 Uganda Shillings monthly. With this, he is able to support his uncle and aunt back in Siripi and send some little money to his parents in South Sudan.

John’s success story is only one among 360 other refugees and host community youth and women who completed training in various marketable vocational trades under the RAISE Project implemented by ANCHOR with funding from the European Trust Fund through GIZ and Enabel. On the last day of project closure, at least 54 other beneficiaries had obtained employment. This number is anticipated to rise over the next six months further confirming the effectiveness of the skilling interventions delivered in addressing gaps in equity and skills levels of vulnerable and disadvantaged refugee and host community women and youth.

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