Uganda, Africa

UGA03a - Hope Restoration Centre

Partnership Ref.:



Anna Ocen



Funding Status:

Partially Funded

Partnership Type:

Orphans & Vulnerable Children, Training / Education

Funding Size:

$15,000 - $99,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 19,050

Connected To:

UGA05 , UGA06


Population: 45 million

Life Expectancy: 63.7 years

GDP: US$979 per capita

Unemployed: 12%

20% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact

5 families are being assisted

1 children are being supported into schooling

4 people are in vocational or agricultural training

Partnership Overview

IDP campIn the heart of Lira, a large town in Northern Uganda, there is a remarkable story of resilience and recovery. At Hope Restoration Centre two sisters, Penninah Okello and Anna Ocen, provide refuge and support to a group of 29 children who have emerged from the shadows of a tumultuous past. These children were victims of the internal conflict involving the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). They were kidnapped from their village where they were being cared for by Anna and Penninah’s father Zadok Okello who was a senior Anglican minister. Some had been subjected to unimaginable hardships, ranging from being child soldiers to surviving harrowing experiences of violence, and worse. Several have HIV-AIDS which will be with them for the rest of their lives.

Since 2006, thanks to the courage and resilience of Penninah and Anna and the ongoing support of Bright Hope World, they have had a foundation of a safe and nurturing environment, received a wonderful education and care that empowers them to build a better future. 

History Of Partnership

refugee campHope Restoration Centre was born from a tragic and violent history. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the LRA insurgency ravaged the villages of Northern Uganda and neighbouring countries, leaving behind a trail of pain and sorrow. Families were torn apart, thousands of children were captured and forced into becoming child soldiers, or other forms of slavery, and their innocence was lost. The LRA's brutality knew no bounds and to this day 36,000 children have never been accounted for. Bright Hope World cannot come alongside all of these, but we are fortunate to have been able to stand with some. 

Two sisters, driven by a fierce love and compassion, took it upon themselves to find the children who had been in the care of their father Zadok in a village. Over time they were able to locate all 28 of them and one was added later taking the number to 29.

Zadok Okello himself was taken captive and killed during the conflict, along with many others from the family’s village. Penninah, a trained nurse and widow herself, lived with the children for three years from 2003 in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Lira, in a couple of large tent structures.

safe placeIn 2005, Bright Hope World learned of this tale of survival through Anna who was involved in another BHW partnership. Touched by the resilience of Penninah and Anna, and the plight of the children, BHW became involved. Our journey began in 2006 by funding the children's transition from the IDP camp to a house in Lira which was able to accommodate them all and in 2007 we commenced regular financial support which enabled them to access education, regular meals, and a nurturing environment. We provided essentials, from bunk beds that replaced sleeping on the floor, to crucial funds that opened doors to education and nourishment. The two sisters have forged these children into a family unit which looks out for each other, and they know that they are deeply, even if not perfectly, loved. 

BHW is committed to continuing the journey with these young people until the last one finishes his or her vocational or tertiary education. We are also looking at ways to make the household sustainable into the future and reduce their reliance on BHW.   

tough lifeBeneficiaries

The beneficiaries are the 29 children that Zadok was caring for and that Penninah was able to rescue and find. 

What We Like About The Partnership

We love it that the children have been rescued from death, slavery and bondage. We like the fact that those caring for the children are doing so out of strong loyalty and commitment.

This project has given hope, security, education, food and shelter to 29 children and young people orphaned as a result of LRA rebel activities in the north of Uganda. The children are healthy and happy. They are a ‘family’, regard each other as brothers and sisters and work well together.


Key People

Leadership Profile

great coupleWe have been very saddened to hear that Anna died following surgical complications on 13 January 2024. We have been supporting Simon and the family and our prayers are with them. We will update this page shortly with changes to the leadership in the partnership. 

Anna Ocen (on right) is the key person for us in this partnership and is the organisational 'glue' for HRC. As the daughter of Zadok and sister of Penninah, she deeply values her father's legacy. Living miles away in Mbale, and with significant health issues of her own, she still makes regular trips to Lira once or twice a month to provide support and ensure accountability. With her background in accounting, she maintains good records and is our primary interface with HRC. She is strongly supported by her husband Simon.

Other People Involved

Penninah Okello's (on left) fierce dedication has transformed the lives of these children, under quite extraordinary circumstances. Having rescued the children, she and Anna were faced with traumatised children and young people with behavioural and identity problems. A trained nurse and survivor herself, she has provided love, care, and security to the children, turning difficulty into growth. She is a very determined and courageous individual. 


Vision And Annual Strategy

income generationThe vision here is to provide a safe and secure environment for the children traumatised by their circumstances.

The strategy is twofold. First, it involves providing holistic care and resources within a Christian context for the young people that addresses their physical, emotional, and educational needs. We are committed to meeting their educational costs, a promise that was made at the onset of this partnership.

Secondly, the goal is to empower HRC to become self-sustainable and get to the point where they no longer require ongoing financial support from Bright Hope World. To this end we have provided funds to enable them to refurbish a grinding mill so it can operate as a business and generate income for the centre.


Annual Budget

The annual budget reflects our commitment to these people and encompasses every aspect of their well-being, including:
- safe and comfortable housing
- comprehensive education, including uniforms and school fees
- nutritious meals
- support and mentoring


Personal Testimony

Real "Life Change" Stories

Apio Sharon
SharonSharon was born on 28th April 1994. Her story started with unspeakable loss. The LRA shattered her family, killing her parents in or around 2003, and she had been living with Rev Zadok Okello when they were once again attacked, and captured. Her escape from the Lord's Resistance Army was dramatic and involved her hiding in the bush alongside fellow children, surviving against all odds. If discovered by the LRA as escapees, they would have been killed immediately. Penninah's intervention eventually led her to safety, and today Sharon proudly works as a plumber in Lira and is active in her local church. 

At Hope Restoration Centre, the stories of Apio Sharon and her “siblings” stand as a testament to the power of compassion, healing, and hope.