Jamyel Jenifer

Jamyel Jenifer (Uganda): Jamyel graduated In 2006 from Spelman College in Atlanta, where she majored in French with a concentration in Pre-Medicine. As an undergraduate student, Jamyel also participated in a semester domestic exchange program at Wellesley College and a summer French Immersion program in Martinique. She then worked as a Pre-Service Assistant in the Office of Medical Services of Peace Corps and went on to serve for two years as the Health Education Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa where she worked on women’s reproductive rights. At the time of her AP fellowship, Jamyel was studying for a Masters degree in International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester. After her fellowship Jaymel wrote: "[I] learned about how grassroots organizations function and about the effectiveness of using radio."

Meet the Volunteers of the Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice

31 Jul

Santos and Leah Labeja, Founders

Santos and Leah Labeja decided to start the Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice after their son, Gideon, was murdered in an act of child sacrifice in 2006. Since 2007, the Gideon Foundation has created awareness about the act of human sacrifice and has advocated against the act, both on national and international levels. Santos and Leah Labeja decided to start the Gideon Foundation not only to put an end to the practice of human sacrifice but to help affected families by offering them psycho-social support and ensuring that their human rights are protected. They are both very much active forces within the organization with Santos Labeja serving as the executive director and Leah Labeja serving more as an advisor.

They are very aware, active and motivated people who had their world shaken when the life of their only son was taken in such a way and right at their very doorstep. Then to further add to their anguish the killer of their son was eventually released. They faced unimaginable hardships after their loss not only in the lack of justice but also in the negative and accusatory reactions by some when the Labejas would speak out against human sacrifice. The Labejas also faced confrontation and negativity in trying to start an organization that is dedicated to stopping human sacrifice. They made a conscious decision to stand up and to not hide their unimaginable loss. The Labejas decided to not suffer alone and they are dedicated to ensuring that other affected families do not have to either.

They are people who are very much respected in Uganda and who are also very protective of the information they release in regards to their lives and of the late Gideon. Thus establishing an organization under the name of their late son and that is everyday fighting against human sacrifice was and continues to be a very big undertaking for them. The Labejas have enlisted the support from the following persons to help them in implementing the goals of the Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice:

Dorothy Akol, Chief Volunteer Social Worker

Dorothy is from Serere, Uganda, which is a community within the district of Soroti. She is self-motivated, a fearless multi-tasker and is a natural leader. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in development studies and has a certificate in administrative law. Dorothy has volunteered with many organizations including the Soroti local government and was a teacher at Kumi University in Uganda. Currently she works in the livelihoods department at Community Care Services, a non-profit organization co-founded by Santos Labeja. She was personally asked by Santos and Leah Labeja to be the office manager of the Gideon Foundation in 2010 and so she divides her time between Community Care Services and the Gideon Foundation. When asked why she decided to volunteer with the Gideon Foundation, Dorothy explains that its because:

“it is the responsibility of all Ugandans and all people that love the human race. Human sacrifice is a barbaric and inhumane act that needs to be stopped. In fact it is a national danger because it threatens the entire nation due to its ferocity and frequency. But unfortunately, and to little surprise from myself, there is little going on to try and fight this barbaric act. In Uganda, the only one local NGO that is fighting against human sacrifice is the Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice. The Gideon Foundation is trying to fight human sacrifice and to support affected families even with the many limitations it faces due to a lack of funding. It is alarming that human sacrifice exists in Uganda. I call upon my fellow Ugandans as well as the entire global community to come together with the Gideon Foundation so that we can collectively end this inhumane act”.

Stella Ibwalingate, Volunteer Social Worker

Stella is orignally from the district of Katakwi in Uganda and holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration along with a certificate in community mobilization. She is a very empathetic and down to earth person who is not afraid to try a new idea. Stella loves working with communities. Throughout her life experiences, Stella has seen the trauma that families experience due to human sacrifice and this is what makes her committeed to the Gideon Foundation’s long-term vision of ending human sacrifice in Uganda. She has worked for Community Care Services for over 5 years now in the livelihoods department along with Dorothy and so she also juggles her time between her work for Community Care Services and the Gideon Foundation. Stella was also asked by Santos and Leah Labeja to help them to implement the goals of the Gideon Foundation. She joined the Gideon Foundation not only because she has seen the detrimental effects of human sacrifice but also because she loves working with communities. Stella believes that:

“human sacrifice is a silly act practiced here in Uganda. The loss of a loved one to human sacrifice is such a nasty act, and having to bury a loved one without all of his/her body parts, has left families with severe psychological trauma. I’ve heard of human sacrifice ever since I was a little girl and it still continues today. I thank God for the opportunity to volunteer and become a part of the mission of the Gideon Foundation-the opportunity to save the lives of innocent people. There is no other organization whose mission concerns fighting this inhumane act”.

Esther Ocom, Volunteer Social Worker

Esther is originally from Gulu, Uganda and holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration. She is the newest volunteer to the Gideon Foundation and joined the team after hearing Dorothy and myself speak on the radio. Esther has a wide array of experience in community empowerment, networking and advocacy, human rights protections, among many others. She has worked with rural communities for the last 7 years empowering and supporting different groups of vulnerable children, youth, women and families. Esther posesses a great deal of fortitude, has the gift of a crtical eye and always has the long-term vision at mind. Esther believes that:

“child sacrifice is one of the most painful acts of abuse and it has been ignored by many charity service providers. Most of these organizations concentrate on supporting the visible groups of vulnerable communities with less consideration on the cause of their vulnerability. For a number of reasons, child sacrifice has been increasing among communities, yet there has been no clear attempt to solve the problem, except for the Gideon Foundation Against Child Sacrifice. As an activist against child abuse, I saw the need to join this organization and to become a part of this team to advocate for the close of this ignored gap”.

Posted By Jamyel Jenifer

Posted Jul 31st, 2011

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