Tourism to help orphans in Uganda

  • Patricia Wiles with the people of Omiya Anyima
  • 15-acres of bushland was purchased by Patricia Wiles to benefit the community
  • There are thousands of child-headed orphan families in Uganda
  • The community of Omiya Anyima

Northern Uganda has come to world attention due to the activities of Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose quest for power resulted in thousands of child-headed orphan families; a tragic situation where the most senior or responsible child is left to raise their siblings unassisted.

British humanitarian Patricia Wiles is doing what she can to help, purchasing 15 acres of bushland to develop a tourism enterprise that could generate funds for these young families to become self-sufficient, and instigate educational projects.

From a chance conversation, and under the leadership of Senior Lecturer in Tourism Lisa Ruhanen, the Uganda tourism project was embedded in the UQ Business School Masters Tourism course. Lisa Ruhanen says, “Patricia did not have a tourism background, and this part of Uganda has no current tourism product. Our task was to do the necessary research and the critical analysis of product development options, in order to develop feasible strategies for creating some form of tourism business. The students had to think very carefully about the issues, particularly as the context of Northern Uganda was just so unique.”

The students definitely gained a lot from the experience, with Master’s student Diana Monserrath Quintero saying, “Working on the Uganda project not only helped me discover a new country and culture, but also gave me an insight into working together to create something in the tourism industry that will benefit an entire community.”

According to Lisa Ruhanen, the opportunity to help Patricia and the orphans was both a personal and professional honour. “I am so grateful to have been able to apply our knowledge of the tourism sector to assist the people of Northern Uganda.”

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