ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Rotary Club recently hosted a very special guest at its Sept. 4 meeting, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was the harshness of Jolly Okot’s early war-ravaged life in Northern Uganda that inspired her to bring support and advocacy to displaced persons and formerly abducted women and girls by founding Wend Africa, a non-profit organization.
Following her own abduction and captivity, Okot went back to school with the realization that an education was her best chance for bringing about change in her country. Okot has since dedicated herself to working with communities affected by the war in Uganda, which has left residents, especially women and children, extremely vulnerable. At the height of war in Uganda, Okot consulted on the documentary “Invisible Children,” leading her to the role of director and ambassador of Invisible Children Uganda and East and Central African Republic. In this position, she developed many successful programs, including the Legacy Scholarship, which placed 5,000 girls in school, oversaw the construction of 11 government schools, and aided in rural economic development.
Today she oversees operations for Wend Africa, the nonprofit organization she founded which helps women who have been affected by the war. Wend Africa provides these women with full-time jobs making handbags and other crafts. Beyond this, the women are given legal services, personal development, health support, and advanced training in tailoring and finance. Through product sales, the seamstresses have become economically stable. They are able to care for their children and grow as leaders within their families and communities.