Lamwo District on Sunday welcomed the first-ever MTN Uganda-sponsored bicycle races in the Ker Kwaro Acholi in northern Uganda, with the chiefdom seeking to use the sporting activities to end the rampant teenage pregnancies.
The race attracted 32 participants with 18 participants turning up including four females, starting at around 9.38 am at Padibe Town Council in Lamwo District.
Walter Omach, who emerged the winner in the male category, took one hour and 13 minutes to complete the race followed by Charles Okema who emerged second. Suzan Adoch won the race in the female category followed closely by Joyce Acen in the second position.
Ms Nancy Acora Odonga, the Woman Member of Parliament for Lamwo District lauded MTN Uganda and the Ker Kwaro Acholi for the bicycle initiative and the campaign to end teenage pregnancy that had surged following the coronavirus pandemic.
She urged residents especially teenagers to be responsible to have better lives ahead.
“I urge our boys and girls in this sub-region to live responsibly. Access education so that you can become important and useful persons to your communities and the entire country,” she said.
Ms Acora pledged to support the campaign to end the teenage pregnancy scourge in the Acholi Sub-region in a bid to improve the socio-economic status of the residents who have witnessed a slow transformation over years owing to the effects of the Lord’s Resistance Army war.
Besides the cash prizes worth UGX 500,000 for each winner and UGX 200,000 for the second top performer for male and female races respectively courtesy of MTN Uganda, the legislator awarded all the top three winners in both categories UGX100,000 and two bars of soap to each participant.
Lamwo District LC V Chairperson, Sisto Ocen Oyet, appreciated MTN Uganda and the Ker Kwaro Acholi for organizing the bicycle race initiative whose theme is to ‘end teenage pregnancy in the Acholi sub-region.’
“There’s no better time than now to create awareness about teenage pregnancy and early marriage. Our young girls and boys need to know what awaits them when they become young mothers and young fathers,” he said.
“Let our young people know that it is only through ending teenage pregnancies and concentrating on education that that is the sure bet to better lives in future.”
The Lamwo District bicycle race competition follows similar races that have been concluded in Kitgum and Gulu Districts, with the best two cyclists both male and female selected to participate in the grand finale slated for 12th March 2023. Eight districts that fall in the Ker Kwaro Acholi including Pader, Agago, Nwoya, Omoro and Amuru are also slated to participate in the grand finale race.
MTN Uganda Northern Region Business Manager, Phillip Odoi said they are proud that the residents have embraced the bicycle race initiative and are turning up in large numbers to either participate or cheer their loved ones.
“The huge turn-up for these races either as spectators or participants is a testament that our activities are being embraced,” he said.
“As MTN Uganda, we aspire to transform the social, economic and cultural status of the people in which we operate and there’s no better avenue to do this than working with the chiefdoms such as Ker Kwaro Acholi.”
Odoi said MTN Uganda is committed to working with the Ker Kwaro Acholi to continuously improve the lives of the population.
MTN Uganda’s partnership with the Ker Kwaro Acholi in the bicycle race competition is hinged on an ongoing partnership signed in 2019 but delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
The agreement entails MTN Uganda working together with the Ker Kwaro leadership to support the chiefdom’s efforts to uplift the socio-cultural welfare of the people in the Acholi sub-region through jointly undertaking health, education and sports initiatives.
MTN Uganda has in the past year undertaken initiatives in health and education in the Acholi region such as the refurbishment and kitting of the Cwero Health Center III Maternity ward in 2019 as well as constructing a classroom block Kuc Ki Gen PEAS high school in Lamwo District.
MTN Uganda is also sponsoring a football tournament in the Ker Kwaro Acholi dubbed MTN Odilo Ker Football Tournament that kicked off a week ago, with all the teams from the eight districts playing in their first round.