Buliisa: residents affected by the Tilenga project receive training and business creation tools from TotalEnergies

Aloysius Okumu could not hide his excitement as he spoke on Monday about the prospects of earning a stable income for his family as a trained and certified mechanic.

The 46-year-old father of 9 said he was grateful to oil company TotalEnergies for giving him what he called a ‘fresh start’ and ‘hope’ for his young children, through training professional for three years.

“Before that, I was just a peasant,” Okumu told our reporter shortly after receiving his certificate.

“I only farmed for my house and did my other work in politics.”

Okumu receiving his part mechanic tool kit from TotalEnergies

Okumu, who is also the LC1 chairman of Kisomere village in Ngwendo sub-county in Buliisa district, is one of 104 locals who graduated on Monday this week after a three-year vocational training sponsored by TotalEnergies. .

The interns are among the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) from the Tilenga project community whose lives have been disrupted by the ongoing oil works in the district.

As part of TotalEnergies’ Livelihood Restoration Program, the company hired a consultancy firm Future Options to provide critical job training to PAPS to enable them to start their own businesses or find decent work.

According to Mr. Nandanan Kannan Pulakkal, CEO of Future Options, the 3-year course not only covered business skills but also had elements of financial literacy and business management.

“Many of them chose to be trained in tailoring, plumbing, mechanics, hairdressing and catering,” he said.

More trainees receive starter kits

At Monday’s event at Kisomere Primary School, the trainees each received different starter kits, which included sewing machines, salon equipment, mechanics kits, stoves and ovens, among others. .

Mrs. Mariam Nampeera Mbowa, Deputy Managing Director of TotalEnergies Uganda, during her remarks at the handover event, said the training was part of the company’s commitment, and one of many to follow. .

Mariam Nampeera Mbowa addressing the trainees

“The idea here is self-sufficiency. It’s part of our commitment that wherever we work, we want to create what we call ‘shared prosperity’,” she says.

“As per the social impact management agreement we have with the government, we are starting with three districts, Kikuube Nwoya and Buliisa, but we expect those we have worked on if they learn these jobs and do them well, they will be a good example for others. We will monitor and evaluate and hopefully build more from this.

Regarding concerns about the availability of ready jobs for new interns, Ms. Nampeera encouraged them to be patient and use their acquired skills to improve themselves while waiting for jobs in the sector.

“You have received the education and the skills and you will now apply those skills; it requires patience. You will learn from the realities of your chosen vocation, and as TotalEnergies, we are here to support you.

The Deputy General Manager also disclosed that the training is in addition to other agricultural programs implemented by the company where they have provided locals with high-yielding cassava cuttings, harvesting equipment, bee hives and also enabled the formation of local village savings associations.

Buliisa District Chairman Fred Lukumu (left) called for more support from TotalEnergies

Meanwhile, Buliisa District Chairman Fred Lukumu has called on TotalEnergies to help the district complete and operationalize the Buliisa Vocational Training Institute.

“The local community came up with the idea of ​​establishing a vocational training center here, but this facility was not operationalized due to financial and logistical constraints. We call on our partners to lend a hand to ensure that this very important institution is in place,” he said.

Lukumu also noted that if the facility was operational, new trainees would not have had to travel outside the district to other institutions.

One of the hairdressing trainees receiving salon equipment

The 104 received their training at Millennium Development School, St Simons VTI, Buhimba VTI and Prestige Driving School.

On her part, MP for Buliisa District, Hon. Norah Nyandwoha, thanked TotalEnergies for the various initiatives it has brought to the district and urged them to make these programs more inclusive.

Buliisa District MP Hon. Norah Nyandwoha speaking at the event

“We are very grateful that you have provided solutions to the problems of water and sanitation, food security of our PAPs, and even in the health sector, and empowerment of our young people through education. Today ‘today we are living the fruits of this economic empowerment of our communities,” she said.

“But this should not stop at Ngwendo sub-county alone, but cover the wider Buliisa district. We need inclusive development.

About Octavia A. Dorr

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