This week, our (belated) Q&A is with Richard Oneka (Oneka Richard), our Country Representative and Program Director in Uganda. He is our first line to the people of in the community of Atiak. A kind and humble man, he has put a great deal of his time and knowledge into helping getting Caleb’s Hope off the ground.
How did you first hear about Caleb’s Hope, and how did you get involved?
In 2008, Holly, the founder of Caleb’s Hope, got in touch with me through e-mail; I’d never met or exchanged e-mails or ideas with Holly before then. Because the suffering people of Northern Uganda had touched her heart, she wanted to do something to improve their lives through Caleb’s Hope. I saw the charity as a credible way to lend my support and assistance to the people of Northern Uganda.
What is it about CH that drew you to the organization?
The fact that it’s a truly charitable organization, coupled with the good leadership provided by the founder, and the amazing team working for the organization, has inspired me to work tirelessly for Caleb’s Hope. It’s always been my dream to do something special for the vulnerable children and women in my village of Atiak and the community of Northern Uganda. Working with Caleb’s Hope will go a long way towards fulfilling my dream.
What is your fondest memory of volunteering for CH so far?
The trust, confidence, beliefs, transparency and accountability among the team working for Caleb’s Hope leaves me with a lot to admire in volunteering with them. Also, the rapport I have with the Nyara Women, the students of Atiak technical school, the local leaders and the community of Atiak as a result of my involvement with Caleb’s Hope is remarkable.
It there a particular project which has captured your interest over your time with Caleb’s Hope? Why?
Well, I personally played a big role in designing/coming up with the Nyara Project and Project Build to benefit the women and children, so these two projects are equally important to me. The United Project is a new initiative in this community, and I am yet to experience the power of the project in transforming the lives of war affected youth in Northern Uganda. I have supported and worked with youth in psychosocial support programs that involved recreational activities to relieve them from the traumatic experiences they went through during the war. The new Shea Project is such a fantastic adventure of the organization creatively. I can’t wait to see the success of all the projects.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect about your work so far?
Meeting new friends and working with people of different professions. Also, the creativity of our Vice President/Creative Director (Nicolay Bastos) in designing the Caleb’s Hope website; it is unbelievable!
Do you own any NYARA Jewelry? What does it mean to you?
Yes, I have a bracelet made by the women, and my wife and little daughter wear Nyara jewelry. This shows the love and support my family has for the Nyara women.
(For those who have been with Caleb’s Hope for an extended period of time) What is it that has encouraged you to continued support?
The commitment of the team working in order to ensure the success and development of the organization, and the humanitarian heart I have for the disadvantaged children and women in my community continue to inspire me to work with Caleb’s Hope to make a difference in their lives.
What are your top ten favorite films
I’m not a film fan but my two favorite films are; War Dance and The School of St Judge Documentary.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
Rearing chickens was my hobby as a child; I used to cry if the family wanted to slaughter or sell my chickens.
What is your favourite holiday destination, and what special memories do you have from there?
Murchison Fall National Park; viewing the animals and waterfalls.
If you were stranded on an island and only had five personal items with you, what would they be and why?
A mobile phone for informing people on my whereabouts and the situation I am in, water (for drinking), food stuff (like snacks), a book, and a pen for writing.
Have you supported any other charities over the years?
Yes, mostly the Charity for Rural Development (CHAFORD) that I co-founded in 2005. I have spent my time with them mobilizing resources.
If you have to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I can’t survive on one thing; there are plenty of foods and fruits that I like to eat. BUT, I could choose to eat “BOO”; it’s a local vegetable source in my community. It’s such a nice dish that I could eat it daily.
When you have time to yourself, what things do you like to do to relax/unwind?
Watching football; Arsenal Football Club is my favourite. Also, reading inspirational books.