The story behind Two Hands

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Two Hands was founded by Ms. Grace Auma Ertzgaard in 2007 and the aassociation was registered in the Brønnøysund Register Centre of Norway that same year.  Ms. Ertzgaard has lived in Norway since 1986, but is originally from Lira, a small town in northern Uganda.

While the rest of Uganda since the late 80’s enjoyed peace and economic growth, the population of the north was terrorized by the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The abuse included looting, rape, murder and kidnapping of children. International aid organizations have documented that thousands of children have been used as child soldiers and forced to take part in atrocities in Uganda, Sudan and Congo.

Although the Ugandan government fought the rebel group for more than 20 years, also engaging in peace talks, they were unable to destroy the LRA or catch it’s leader Joseph Kony. To protect the local population, the Government established camps for internally displaced persons that still exist today. Conditions in these camps are very poor. Olilim is one such camp.

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In 2006, Ms. Ertzgaard visited the refugee camp Olilim. She was struck by the poverty and lack of food, schooling and health care. She decided to do something. Together with her family members in Lira she identified five children who were orphaned, living from hand to mouth. In the beginning she helped the children in the camp with food, clothing and school materials. In 2008 she opened the private orphanage Two hHands in Lira town. The orphanage is approved and controlled by Ugandan authorities.

In 2011 the orphanage took in four new children, this time not from the refugee camp, but AIDS orphans from Lira. The orphanage now provides a safe haven for nine children, aged 5 to 16, three boys and six girls.

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Ms. Ertzgaard is currently working at AKSEPT,  a centre for people affected by HIV and AIDS in Oslo, Norway. This expertise comes in handy in her volunteer work in Uganda. Good colleagues and their networks in Norway  now contitute the board and many of the donors of Two Hands.

Both the founder and members of the board volunteer and receive no salary for the work.