When Molly’s husband, Opira, died, she was left alone, devoted to providing and caring for her seven children on the outskirts of her family land to provide food. As is common in the Acholi sub-region, the late Opira was the family bread winner and upon his death the family was left in despair.
One morning, Molly woke up to the rude shock when her in-laws came to her home and said she had no right to her deceased husband’s land. They became verbally abusive and threatened her life. Afraid for her family’s safety, Molly left her home and went to her local police station in Gulu Town. The police, who have been trained by FIDA-U on land conflict management and use of the referral network to assist communities’ access justice, referred her to FIDA-U offices.
Molly came to FIDA-U’s Gulu office and was received by the legal officer who opened up a case file for her and scheduled a mediation meeting with her in laws. FIDA staff members traveled to Molly’s village to conduct the mediation at the land in dispute in the presence of Molly’s friends and neighbors, as well as traditional community leaders and local government officials.
Once FIDA had confirmed all the facts of the case, they took the opportunity to sensitize the community members who were present during the mediation including the rights of women, children and vulnerable groups in Uganda. It became clear to the community members that Mollys in laws had the obligation to protect the rights of the widow and her children. The in laws then accepted Molly to occupy her land peacefully without interference.
With the support of the community and local leaders, Molly and her in laws signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing that Molly would be the guardian of the land and of her children’s rights until they came of age and were ready to own and control the land themselves.
Within days of FIDA’s mediation Molly and her children were back in their home and Molly said her neighbors have welcomed her back. She is happy that her family is safe in their home and that her children will be able to grow old and live together in their own village.