About the Founder: Mercy Akongo
This Life Foundation was founded by Mercy Akongo following her personal journey as a child and experiences working with displaced people in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps in Northern Uganda.
Ms Akongo lost her mother twice, first at the age of seven (7), reunited at the age of seventeen (17) and losing her mother again just five (5) years later after reconnection. While at school, she received the news; her mother was dead and this time for good, she had to go for the burial. When Ms Akongo received the news of her mother`s passing, heart-broken she looked up and screamed; “I Hate This Life God!”.
Seven (7) years later, Mercy moved to Northern Uganda to work with victims of Gender-Based violence where she encountered critically vulnerable children in Internally Displaced Persons` Camps (IDPs). During her work, she encountered a number of orphaned children living under very difficult circumstances and they repeatedly turn to her in tears saying; “I hate this life”. This Statement resonated with Mercy because it reminded her of the day she received the news about her mother`s passing. She then started supporting orphaned children within the IDPs using her monthly salary.
The Family of Six (6) Children
On one occasion on her visit to Uganda, Ms Akongo encountered a family of six (6) children who lost their mother just three (3) days after she met her. These children lost their mother and her body remained in the house for one and half days because there was no one to help them organise their burial. Ms Akongo offered to help and after burying the body of these kids` mother, she learnt that there was no one left to look after them. The oldest boy was 16 years old and the oldest girl was 14 years old; with the youngest just three (3) years old. As Mercy was talking to the oldest girl (14 years old) at their home, a day after the funeral, the girl turned to her with tears streaming down her face and said; “Aunt, I Hate This Life!”. This hit home for Mercy and she decided to help them and more kids like them.
This statement, “I HATE THIS LIFE” became a problem for Ms Akongo, she decided to change that and started `This Life Foundation` to support critically vulnerable child-headed families in Uganda and to create an environment whee children feel safe, loved and cared for; and to give them hope for z better future.
Work with Young People at Risk in Victoria
Miss Akongo recently moved to Victoria from NSW with the desire to work with young people who are in contact or at risk of contact with the justice system. Since arrival, she has worked with young people in prisons around Victoria through African Visitation and Mentoring Program (AVAMP). Through AVAMP, Miss Akongo was involved in recruiting and training of Volunteer Mentors for young people in Victorian prisons. She regularly visited young people on the program in the different prisons and introduced them to their Mentors who visits and support them regularly. She is passionate about supporting young people at risk and continues to volunteer her time to mentor them during her free time through This Life Foundation.
Miss Akongo also worked with the Department of Justice and Regulations as Children Court and Youth Diversion Coordinator where she got to advocate for young people under the age of 18 in courts.
More About Mercy Akongo
Mercy Akongo, the founder of This Life Foundation is a phenomenal young woman whose life and journey leaves you challenged and inspired. Ms Akongo is a motivational public speaker, whose journey of life is richly filled with unbelievable experiences yet she lives her life with simplicity, grace and humility. Right from the tender age of 8, Ms Akongo started on a journey of sacrifice, whose service to the poor, fighting for the oppressed women and a voice for vulnerable children made a difference to the lives of hundreds of women and children in Uganda, Africa and globally. In recognition of her work, Ms Akongo received The Nelson Mandela Innovation Award at The Civicus World Assembly in Scotland (2006). She is also a recipient of Celebrate African Australians NSW. As a Ugandan representative to both African Youth Parliament (AYP) and Oxfam International Youth Parliament/Partnership, she had the opportunity to lobby and advocate for the rights of young people facing discrimination, neglect, abuse and stereotype. Ms Akongo also worked with the Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in the United Kingdom (UK) and Africa where she advocated against unfair policies that affect minority communities. Ms Akongo founded Tedwii Indigenous Women Development Organization (TIDO) in 2002 to empower women and young people as development partners in North Eastern Uganda. Ms Akongo has been able to advocate on behalf of the world’s poor at different forums including at the United Nation General Assemblies. She is also a co-founder of the Uganda Pastoral Taskforce: “The Untapped Potentials”, a body set up to lobby and advocate for the rights of pastoralist’s communities in Uganda. Ms Akongo`s fondest yet traumatic moments was her experience working with war victims in the war-torn Northern Uganda. She worked on a Sexual Gender Based Violence project in the war affected Northern Uganda; an experience that changed her life and motivated her to continue supporting vulnerable children and women in poor communities. By working directly with victims and survivors of war within the internally Displaced Person’s Camp and the rural communities of Northern Uganda, she came face to face with terror and witnessed traumatic events that left a mark in her heart to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children and women in communities. Ms Akongo has founded This Life Foundation to continue to serve and be able to do what is her heart’s most desire, to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged groups in Africa and globally and to bring about real change.
Mercy holds a Masters in Human Rights Law, Bachelor in Arts (Communication Skills and Organizational Studies), Diploma in Social Work and Social Administration, Certificate in Mental Health and Accredited Mental Health Practitioner. She holds numerous other Certificates courses in Public Advocacy, Conflict Resolution and Peace-Making, UN Mechanism and Procedures etc.