Extraordinary People

Man turns destroyed village into thriving town in remarkable revamp

Proof that you can do anything you put your mind to

There are two kneejerk responses when disaster strikes: fight or flight.

And for one man named Ojok Okello, it was most certainly fight.

In what was a David and Goliath mission to rebuild a destroyed village following more than a decade of war in northern Uganda, Ojok has transformed it into a thriving town.

[Credit: Ojok Okello / Twitter]

Okere City, formerly known as Okere Mom-Kok, now has a school, health clinic, bank, community hall, and church that 4,000 residents are proud to call home.

Oh, and did we mention there is also a nightclub and kickboxing club?

In addition to these, electricity generated from solar energy is easily accessible as is clean water from a borehole – both rare for the area.

When we say Ojok is a hero, we do not use that term loosely.

The London School of Economics graduate and development expert is funding the project himself and splashed out 200million Ugandan shillings (£40,000) last year alone.

Ojok decided to take matters into his own hands after returning to the village he had left as a baby, when his father was killed in the bush wars of the 1980s, and discovering the devastation.

[Credit: Okere City / Facebook]

However, thanks to Ojok’s efforts, if you visit now the sweet smell of shea butter will greet you.

This is because Ojok has tapped into the magic of the shea tree, having planted this beautiful natural resource to help locals produce oil-rich seed from which butter is extracted then sold.

Not only does this accrue income for the village, it also allows residents to work collectively as a community and create a sustainable green environment to live in.

They also have a unique style of banking whereby weekly investment meetings are held to invite small businesses to make financial contributions which are then redistributed as loans to members who need them. When borrowers repay the loan, the cycle continues.

[Credit: Okere City / Facebook]

Speaking about this method, original to Africans, expert city planner Amina Yasin said it provides a system where people are put first ahead of big bank balances.

Amina said: “The way in which indigenous continental Africans have thought about money has always been outside of the central banking system. It’s been about community and caring for each other, and patience, and long-term investments.

“We’ve always known a lot earlier than the western world and other, quote, unquote, developed nations, that money was out of fashion and it was not a sustainable way to live.”

She added: “Okere City is being intentionally developed with the community in mind.”

We kinda want to live there ourselves.

[Credit: Okere City / Facebook]

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