AGAGO – MTN Uganda-sponsored Acholi Heritage Bicycle Races were over the weekend held in Pader and Agago Districts as the Acholi Chiefdom seeks to eliminate teenage pregnancies in the country’s northern region.
The Acholi chiefdom popularly known as Ker Kwaro Acholi is currently battling a high rate of teenage pregnancies leading to limited access to education, poverty and poor livelihood of its population.
On Sunday, the bicycle race in Pader District started at Pader Town Council with Emmanuel Eling emerging as the winner followed by Emmanuel Runagakene in the second position in the men’s category which attracted 31 participants.
Margret Akidi won in the female category followed by Immaculate Akello who took the second position in a race that attracted seven participants. All cyclists were in the MTN-branded jerseys.
Pader District’s Aruu County Member of Parliament, who also doubled as the Chief Guest, Christopher Komakech lauded MTN Uganda and Ker Kwaro Acholi for organizing the race whose aim is to help fight teenage pregnancies and early marriage in the chiefdom.
“Teenage pregnancy has become a big challenge in this chiefdom and I believe this is time that all of us take charge to change this trend for the betterment of our people,” he told the crowd.
Rwot of Pader chiefdom Orik Apwa appreciated MTN for the partnership with Ker Kwaro Acholi for organizing the race at an appropriate time.
He appealed to parents to send their children to school since it’s one way of fighting teenage pregnancy and early marriage.
“My fellow parents let us all take our children to school so that we can end these teenage pregnancies and early marriages in our chiefdom. This will help improve standards of living for our people in future as well as help develop our area,” he said.
Meanwhile, the race in Agago District started at Patongo Town
Council on Saturday with Richard Opio, a resident of Wol Sub County crowned the champion of Agago District Acholi Heritage Bicycle Race followed up by Michael Opio.
Jennifer Alimocan emerged winner in the female category with Nighty Akello coming in second. The race attracted 13 participants including three females.
Rwot Kasemiro Ongom, the Chief of Patongo Chiefdom appreciated MTN Uganda for partnering with Ker Kwaro Acholi for the duo sporting activities – the Acholi Heritage Bicycle Race and Odilo Ker Football Tournament –which are aimed at ending teenage pregnancies as well as fostering unity in the sub-region.
“I urge all the communities in Agago District to join the fight against teenage pregnancies and young girls to restraint from bad peers that lead them engage in activities that make them pregnant at an early age,” he said.
He urged MTN Uganda to extend its support to Ker Kwaro Acholi for a long period since it directly benefits the youths, sensitizes them and also exposes their hidden talents.
The top performers in both male and female categories in the two districts s received cash prizes courtesy of MT Uganda, and will also go head-on with their counterparts in the other 6 districts that fall within the Ker Kwaro Acholi for the grand final slated for 12th March 2023. These include; Kitgum, Lamwo, Gulu, Nwoya, Omoro and Amuru.
MTN Uganda Northern Region Business Manager, Phillip Odoi appreciated the local leaders including the area members of parliament and the residents for turning up in large numbers to witness and participate in the race.
“I am indeed impressed with the high turn-up of residents for this bicycle race meant to help fight teenage pregnancy in this sub-region,” he said.
“I would request that each of us go and spread this gospel to those who have not been able to be with us and this issue of teenage pregnancies will reduce going forward.
He said MTN Uganda is committed to working with the chiefdom to transform the social, economic and cultural status of the people in the Ker Kwaro Acholi.
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, with all the teams from the eight districts currently participating in it.
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