Catholic Relief Services’ Sr. Pauline Acayo has been honored by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) with an Outstanding Leadership Award. She accepted the award at ACR’s annual meeting this October in San Diego.
Ugandan peacebuilder Sr. Pauline Acayo from Catholic Relief Services was presented with the Outstanding Leadership Award by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ARC) in October, 2011. Here she is pictured with Luis Oré, immediate past chair of ACR’s International Section.
A Catholic Ugandan Sister from the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Gulu, Uganda, Sr. Pauline is a peace builder who has helped to reintegrate to the community over 5,000 child soldiers and 2,500 formerly abducted people. Having herself escaped abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2003, she has an intimate understanding of the crisis and its consequences in northern Uganda.
The LRA, a rebel movement, is notorious for its brutality. Those who survive being seized are forced to become soldiers, and many of the abducted are forced to attack their own family and friends.
CRS works with the Ugandan Catholic Church and traditional and government leaders in northern Uganda to respond to the violence and displacement caused by the LRA, and where possible re-integrate former child soldiers into their communities. CRS also works with reception centers for returning children, where community leaders, trained in rehabilitation, begin the process of reconciliation within the affected communities.
“We are working hand in hand with religious leaders, trained government workers, traditional leaders and youth representatives in mediation and reconciliation to handle land conflicts amicably without fighting,” Sr. Pauline says. “Dialogue has helped a lot to bring a bit of peace to northern Uganda.”
As Head of Office in CRS’ Gulu office, Sr. Pauline oversees the day-to-day management of northern Uganda projects and leads the design and implementation of nationwide projects in the peacebuilding field. In her experience as CRS’ Peacebuilding Program Officer during the northern Uganda crisis, Sr. Pauline provided health and psychosocial support to children orphaned during the war. She facilitated community dialogue, conflict mediation, designed inter-ethnic reconciliation interventions, and helped create the model for an important land conflict mitigation pilot project in 2009. She continues to coordinate a radio program for a Community Resilience and Dialogue peace building project.
In 2005, Sr. Pauline was named a Woman Peacemaker of the Year by San Diego University’s International Justice and Peace Department for her work in grassroots peacebuilding. In 2006, she was one of ten employees to be named a Beacon of Peace by Catholic Relief Services.
Sr. Pauline has an interesting personal story and can speak to the work of the Catholic Church and CRS in Northern Uganda. She will be in Baltimore, Maryland at CRS’ world headquarters on Friday, October 28th.
To arrange an interview, please contact Kim Pozniak.